banning Muslims from the United States. Until this election cycle, anyone who proposed any of the things Trump has would have watched their campaign crash and burn. Party officials and political pundits alike would castigate them, but the reaction from the GOP leadership and conservative media has been cowardly this time around.
Remember 2008 Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo? No? That's because he barely registered in the polls, thanks in part to his extreme views on race and immigration. In 2016, Tom Tancredo has told Donald Trump to tone down his rhetoric, which illustrates just how far the GOP has slid to the fringe in the past 8 years. When the GOP's leading candidate is embraced by Neo-Nazis, there's no further doubt that our national political dialogue is in complete shambles.
Donald Trump continues to remain popular, because he is appealing to the most ignorant people in America. If I were to guess, I'd say that the average Trump voter barely understands how politics work, and really thinks if you type "Amen!" under a picture on Facebook, that little girl will be cured of cancer. These people are all around us, we all know at least one person who truly believes and shares stuff from conservative clickbait media sites that claim Michelle Obama is really a man - or that they have the exclusive scoop on President Obama's plan to confiscate guns.
Right-wing politics has always relied on the fear of foreigners, intellectuals, gays, etc. The Know Nothing Party flourished on the hatred towards Irish immigrants and Catholics. The KKK has been reincarnated a number of time to oppose blacks, Jews, communists and immigrants. The John Birch Society is still alive and well today, enjoying the support of Ron Paul devotees and Glenn Beck followers.
However, the internet and social media especially have made spreading hatred and misinformation easier - and more profitable than ever before. It used to be that the unhinged rants of conspiracy nuts were mostly confined to newsletters or low watt radio stations, but now all you have to do is tap your Facebook app and find that your gullible aunt is sharing stuff from David Icke, David Avocado Wolfe or websites claiming you can cure autism with bleach.
In other words, the crazy has gone mainstream. Bloggers have found that they can make a lot of money with headlines along the lines of "Barack Obama DESTROYS Every GOP Talking Point In EPIC Smackdown!" or "The SHOCKING Truth About Guns Liberals Don't Want YOU To Know!" Too many people don't read beyond the headline, and pass an article along as being true, without fact-checking both the story and the source.
As much as liberals want to claim that they are smarter than conservatives, there are many folks on the left who believe that George W. Bush will be tried for war crimes or that the FCC can pull Fox News' broadcasting license - simply because they saw it on a website that calls itself liberal.
The danger of Donald Trump being the Republican nominee or even being elected as our next president should not be laughed off. When you have people claiming to be Bernie Sanders supporters who have stated they will not vote for Hillary Clinton, or Clinton supporters saying they will not vote for Sanders, there is a very real possibility that Donald Trump or Ted Cruz could eek out a win in 2016.
Elections are not won based on viral videos or Moveon.org petitions, they are won by educating and motivating voters. Unfortunately, the American public has been dumbed down more than ever before over the last few years, thanks in part to social media. This is how Donald Trump has become as popular as he is, and this may be how the GOP hold on America becomes complete in 2016.