Trump is singularly ill-suited and unprepared for the job he is seeking, and he is making a mockery of what conservatives have argued, accomplished, and sought to achieve in recent decades. He invites the right to succumb to a shallow caricature of itself and to turn its prospects, and the nation’s, over to someone who shows not the slightest inkling of concern for the Constitution, the limits of government power, the freedom of the individual, or the traditions and principles of the American republic—let alone any prudence, discipline, or vision. To those who are angry, he offers only his own anger; to those led to hopelessness by a loss of faith in our institutions, he offers only affirmation that there can be no hope except himself, the maker of great “deals”; to those who feel insecure, he offers only himself as a model of how to pass off insecurity as confidence—and we should hardly be surprised that the example leads some of those around him to violence. Every nerve and sinew of the conservative political tradition in America cries out against the dangers of such demagoguery. And anyone who thinks that voters should be warned against it ought to offer that warning.
That no one is sure what effect one kind of criticism or another will have on Trump’s standing is not a reason to stay silent; it is a reason to offer up your honest assessment forthrightly and do what you can to avert the disaster of a Trump-Clinton election. Maybe that would backfire. Maybe it would not. But surely it is well past time for bank shots.