It’s all in the affect


That’s why people like Christie, too. They like their loudmouth bullies, they don’t actually care what they stand for. It’s what makes candidates like this dangerous:

But Trump has outdone him not just in celebrity appeal, but in calculated offensiveness. Trump’s crude denunciation of Mexican immigrants as criminals made him the symbol of Republican nativism in the Latino community, yet this only enhanced his appeal. The most staggering indicator of his success to date is not that he has maintained his polling lead. It is that opposition among Republican voters has actually decreased. A month ago 59 percent of likely Republican voters said they would never vote for Trump. That has fallen to one third. The attacks on Trump have actually backfired.

The amorphous fervor of the right-wing base has stumped liberals as well as conservatives. Outsiders have struggled to comprehend how Republican voters can attach themselves to an economic agenda so plainly at odds with their own interest, or whip themselves into a frenzy over a manufactured outrage (whether it is Elián González, ACORN, death panels, or the legitimacy of Obama’s birth). Trump embodies that mysterious X factor that has eluded analysts of all sides. His affect supplies his appeal — he is strong, mad, and, above all, unapologetic in a world that demands he apologize. Trump is not the spokesman for an idea at all, but the representation of undifferentiated resentment.