The Republican elites sound like the man who was so beset by troubles and miseries that he hitchhiked to New York because there wasn't a building in his home town tall enough to jump from.
The elites have tried insult, argument, persuasion and begging, but nothing has persuaded Donald Trump to go away. The more the elites belittle, tease and taunt, the higher he flies in the public-opinion polls.
The Donald clearly enjoys playing the elites, like a cat toying with a mouse. He knows how to manipulate their fears of an independent candidacy if, like Rodney Dangerfield, he "don't get no respect." The odds strongly suggest that he can't win the nomination, but some of the professionals with a history of mismanaging campaigns are not any longer so sure.
Some of them are talking about drastic measure that other candidates could take if the Donald invokes "the nuclear option" and runs, like Ross Perot against George the Elder in 1992, against the eventual nominee. One suggests invoking so-called "sore loser" laws in some states that are meant to prevent a loser in the primaries from running as a third-party candidate in the general election. There's no certainty that such laws would actually work, and to invoke such laws begs the question of who's the sore loser.
The latest fright poll, this one by Purple Strategies purple because the pollsters try to take the temperature of the body politic in states where red and blue turn to purple show Mr. Trump flying higher than ever. He has a plan, wrong-headed though it may be, to deal with the abundant fears of a wave of Muslim migrants waiting to come to America from Syria, largely unvetted and likely to include radical Islamic sleepers on call to strike in towns and cities across the land.
"What this poll respondents are really saying," Bruce Haynes, president of Purple Strategies, tells Politico, the political daily, "it's Christmas, and I'd like to go to the mall and buy my kid a toy and I'm wondering if I'm going to get shot when I do, and here's a guy who's got a plan to do something. I don't know if I agree with him or not but he's got something and something beats nothing. Someone's got to step up and give them something better."
Donald Trump, no theologian he, nevertheless has stumbled onto the particulars of the dilemma which the elites either don't see or understand, or think they can hide from its consequences. Islam has certain features of a religion, but it is not religious faith as the West understands and defines religious faith. From the Western perspective it's an ideology wrapped in convenient religious garb.
"As understood by the mainstream of Muslim-majority countries that are the source of immigration to America and the West," says the religious scholar Andrew C. McCarthy in an incisive essay in National Review, "Islam is a comprehensive ideological system that governs all human affairs, from political, economic and military matters to interpersonal relations and even hygiene."
Though beyond dispute that Islam teaches religious tenets, these tenets make up only a fraction of what Muslims are required to believe. The injunction of Christ to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto G0D the things that are G0D's," on which the American doctrine of separation of church and state is based, is unknown and utterly alien to Islam. Separation of mosque and state is blasphemy in certain countries where Islam reigns.
Mr. Trump's idea to shut the door to immigrants from these countries is harsh and unacceptable to many Americans, perhaps most, but it is neither unconstitutional nor without precedent. For decades in the last century a quota system guided immigration, largely based on who got here first. The Swedes, the English and the French, more deserving or not, got in easier than Afghans, Albanians and Hottentots.
No one has a right to come to America. The United States could shut out everyone, if it foolishly chose to do that. Immigrants in the past were chosen with consideration of how they would assimilate into American society, how comfortable they would be in the melting pot. Many thoughtful Americans, including both Democrats and Republicans, look at some prospective Muslim immigrants and see men and women determined to bring in sharia law with their pots and pans, and conclude that they might not like the close quarters of the melting pot.
Donald Trump's rambunctious language upsets many people, but rough times invite rough justice. The elites cannot wrap their brains around the incontrovertible fact that these are rough times. Treating the Donald and his followers like pariahs invites a Republican funeral next November.
No flowers, please.