New York Times columnist David Brooks, who expresses horror at Trump's deeds, nevertheless says he's "experiencing feelings of deep sadness and pity" toward him. He imagines Trump in a lonely life, longing for human connection. But I suspect Trump dwells contentedly in a solipsistic black hole, blind to empathy and unable to truly comprehend the existence of others.
He's not the first Republican to fit that description.
Brooks also broods over right-wing anti-Trump commentator Erick Erickson. Erickson writes that he and his wife are ill, and that his family has been subjected to terrible expressions of hatred from Trump supporters. That's awful. I'm truly sorry to hear it.
But there is a through line between Trump's bigotry and misogyny and that of right-wing commentators like Erickson. Erickson called Texas State Senator Wendy Davis "Abortion Barbie," said the First Lady of the United States was a "Marxist harpy wife," and described women seeking medical care as "pregnant female animals." Erickson defended a club that refused entry to a woman and described the first night of the 2012 Democratic convention as "the vagina monologues."
Women weren't his only targets. Erickson described a retiring Supreme Court Justice as a "goat f**king child molester," threatened to pull "his wife's shotgun" on a minor government functionary, and celebrated the thought of violence against peaceful protestors. He called LGBT activists "terrorists." Even after a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility, Erickson inflamed emotions by calling Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards "America's own version of Josef Mengele," falsely claiming that the organization "chops up children and harvests their body parts for sale."
In other words, Erickson's a typical right-wing pundit. His vitriol was celebrated, not condemned, among conservatives.
Erickson's comments, like those of so many other right-wingers, were so hateful and vulgar they could have come from Trump himself. Erickson says he regrets not speaking out sooner against Trump. Perhaps he could atone instead for contributing to the climate that made Trump possible.
As for the GOP, how did it wind up in a civil war? The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro explains that gerrymandering is a major factor. Republican House members, safely ensconced in right-leaning white districts, have become increasingly extremist, indulging in ever-escalating Ericksonian rhetoric.
GOP Senate members face a more diverse electorate. It is these Republicans, along with national figures like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who find themselves struggling with the orange-faced specter who leads their party.
Trump-Republican misogyny reached new heights when FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver reported that Trump would win the election with 350 electoral votes -- if women weren't allowed to vote. Trump leads by 11 points among men, but is losing by 33 points among women. That spurred a number of Trump supporters to create a #Repealthe19th hasthtag on Twitter. (The 19th Amendment gave women the vote.)
More traditional Republicans are horrified by such overt misogyny and bigotry. They prefer theirs slightly more discrete, or wrapped in Erickson's flimsy veneer of faux irony. And they're willing to stand up against their own nominee -- if only symbolically -- to say so.
But then, we all live in a house divided. Silver's statistics show that we're divided by gender. We're also divided by age. More young Americans voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries than voted for Clinton and Trump combined -- considerably more, in fact.
"There is a war between the young and old," sang Leonard Cohen, "there is a war between the men and the women."
Racial and religious divisions also haunt us. African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, and other groups are far more heavily Democratic that white Christian males.
What should Democrats do? Should she win the presidency, there is the very real risk that Hillary Clinton and her party will view it as a mandate to govern from the political "center" -- that is to say, from the consensus viewpoint of elites from both parties.
That would be a mistake. Bipartisan revulsion for Mr. Trump, should it win the day, must not be mistaken for an embrace of the bipartisan elite's austerity agenda.