Now that Donald Trump, the candidate, has become both widely popular and deeply loathsome, we’re seeing a cataract of editorials and commentary aimed at explaining how it happened and who’s to blame. The predictable suspects are trotted out: the Republican Party, which had been too opportunistic and fearful to stand up to its own candidate, Fox News, which inflamed the jingoes, and white working-class voters, unhinged by class envy and racial resentment.
The predictable bewilderment and outrage are professed. But absent from all these ashen-faced accounts is any examination of the people who put Trump in a position to run for president in the first place. The man didn’t emerge, all at once and fully formed, from some hidden and benighted hollow in the American psyche. He’s been kicking around for 30 years or more, and he was promoted and schooled, made famous and made wealthy, by the same culture and economy that now reviles him, and finds his success so vexing.