The 2016 election season started last year with a cheap stunt. The roguish clown Donald Trump set fire to the circus tent, then made fun of the fleeing performers. Many of us laughed in a sick sort of way, enjoying the Republican distress.
Next the campaign became a cartoonish version of reality TV, with naughty name-calling and occasional sexual innuendo. Shock radio, with Trump playing Howard Stern.
Now the nation has reached the final act—the election itself—and it’s not funny. We are watching a dark opera with exaggerated characters. Hillary Clinton is cast as Lady Macbeth, with bloody hands and a sinister laugh. Donald Trump is the hateful con artist on the street corner, selling poisonous drugs to TV-addicted citizens. Customers know Trump’s hate-tinged elixir is probably bad for them, but it makes them feel good.