Trump is an explosive combination of uninformed, dangerous and skillful. He's the culmination of what the Republican Party has been working towards in the last couple of decades, without realizing how devastating this combination would be not only for the party itself, but for the entire country.
There have been other dangerous people before him. Palin was one. She was uninformed as well. She wasn't skillful though. She certainly resonated with the masses, but she couldn't quite handle the limelight. She was gone before she had a chance to be just one heart stroke away from being a commander in chief.
"Us versus them" is an old trick. It's a cheap and very effective strategy to keep people's thoughts away from the deeper problems around them and to distract their attention towards some imaginary entity that "threatens to destroy our very way of life". Just ask Putin how that game is played. The great thing about Putin though is that he is a very informed man. He plays a long game.
Trump plays the game where the only player is himself. He seizes the opportunities presented to him by a party that just happened to be at the present moment better suited to his way of "running" a campaign.
He is not afraid to say horrible things. Things that, highly likely, a lot of people espouse privately. Things that those people that hold them know to be terrible terrible things to believe in. Things that would destroy a political career of almost every other person if they just had the audacity to say them out loud.
Trump is not a career politician though. He's not even a politician. I don't think he understands what it is to be the commander in chief. I don't think he understands what it is to be a president. I do absolutely think he wants to "win" the thing. To get the nomination from "his" party. And to continue playing his game to "win" the presidency itself.
The Republican Party has been playing the game of "us versus them" for a long time now. It's certainly much easier to rally people along clear lines that divide us into groups. The group that is exactly like us. And all the other groups that are not like us. People that might not be fortunate enough to have a job but still would like to be able to get healthcare insurance. People that happen to prefer partners of their own gender and still would like to be treated by law and by society as equals. If you go a bit back in time, people that happened to be born women but still wanted to vote. And if you go a bit further back in time, people that happened to be born into slavery but still were people. Just like you and me.
The overwhelming rhetoric from the Republican Party's presidential field these days is one of divisiveness, prejudice and intolerance. Saner and quieter voices are pushed away, to the edges, to feel like they are the fringe lunatics with crazy ideas of bridging the gaps, seeking consensus and building alliances.
Paul Ryan and Lindsey Graham might be out there saying that Trump's bigotry and hatred do not represent their party. The sad reality is that the Republican Party made a space for xenophobic bigotry in its midst, and Trump happened to be there at the right time. Because the place was already created for him. And that place is not going to go away on its own any time soon.