A part of me is glad that Trump has all of his flaws. The common conservative argument against him is that he’s not electable and will hand the presidency to Hillary. I don’t buy this (see below), but let’s play along for a while. Let’s assume that Trump’s lack of gravitas is indeed an election liability. I’ll argue that, almost paradoxically, even as a liability it’s a strength — in the game-theoretic sense of signalling, whereby the player intentionally inflicts a handicap upon himself so as to demonstrate superior fitness.
Trump has brought into focus certain vital issues, in a way that no “respectable” candidate could do. One such vital issue is immigration, and it had been completely banished from civil discourse prior to Trump’s arrival on the scene. Respectable people simply do not bring it up. (I love Derb’s description “He treated me as if I had been dusted with plutonium”.)
It logically follows that only a “non-respectable” candidate can force immigration into the public debate. (When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns, and when vital topics are banned from polite discourse, expect them to be broached by impolite people.) An honest national debate on the immigration issue would have gone a long way to prevent the Trumpeting.
It’s not clear that a mainstream candidate would necessarily have a better shot against Hillary. Romney was as mainstream as they come, and he decisively lost to Obama — perhaps because there was little daylight between the two. It may well be that Trump’s eccentricity confers a competitive advantage.
More importantly, a Trump victory over Hillary would be a moment of clarity. The anger, the disaffection, the pushback. If the millions who vote for Trump do so despite his all too obvious flaws, what does it say about their willingness to go gentle into that good night?
[Oh, and to all the concern-trolls clucking about Trump’s unstable finger on the nuclear button: really? You really think a President, in a fit of rage, can just order a nuclear strike — and be obeyed? I doubt that even if Obama were to issue such an order on whim — with all of the academic and media support behind him — that it would be carried out. But a President Trump will have his power circumscribed in every branch and at every level. They couldn’t impeach Obama and they won’t impeach Hillary, but they’ll impeach Trump in a heartbeat.]