Will ridicule succeed where all else fails?

We have seen in the current Republican presidential race that there seems to be nothing that can bring a candidate down once they have captured the allegiance of a significant portion of the party’s large and nutty base. Donald Trump and Ben Carson exemplify this. They can flat out lie, make the most idiotic and unrealistic policy proposals, exhibit xenophobia and race-baiting, and their poll numbers stay up month after month despite predictions from the pundits that this time, they have gone too far and their numbers will come down.

People seem to be slowly cottoning on to the fact that Carson is nuts and he is becoming the target of ridicule from many quarters. After initially treating Carson gently, now Trump has decided to publicly mock him.

It used to be that one of the worst things for a political candidate is to be seen as ridiculous. We are now going to see if sustained ridicule can do what all the other failings have not and bring Carson down. But given the craziness of this race and the Republican electorate, I would not be surprised if this not only does not lower his popularity but actually increases it. After all, people have been ridiculing Trump from the time he entered the race and it has not seemed to have had much effect.

There is no question that this Republican primary is breaking all the old rules.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    It used to be that one of the worst things for a political candidate is to be seen as ridiculous.

    Ronald Reagan said that trees cause pollution, and regularly used scenes in movies as “evidence” to support his positions. Yet he got reelected in one of the biggest landslides in US history. As long as you can get the voters emotionally invested in you, you can be a total nutcase and it won’t matter because their cognitive processes have been short-circuited.

  2. says

    But Trump questioned how stupid are the people who believe that crap. He’s trying to get the votes of such people! Now, I do question whether or not they’ll even realize that he’s talking about them.

  3. says

    I’ll note, too, that you, Mano, noted in another post from yesterday that Evangelicals really love those ridiculous redemption stories. That’s what Trump is ridiculing here. So will the Evangelicals make the connection?

  4. StevoR says

    “How stupid are these people?” Asks Trump.

    Carson (as well as well anyone really) could well respond with “About as stupid as the one’s who really think you’ll really be able to build a wall across the whole Mexican-American border, get Mexico to pay for it and deport all the illegal immigrants in the US of A!”

    Both these candidates -- Carson & Trump -- and so many others on the Republican side already seem utterly ridiculous. Still, guess one can hope!

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