Anyone facing Donald Trump in the 2016 race has to contend with the stark reality that he has pushed the envelope so far, so often, that outrage fatigue has set in.
It is becoming less and less compelling to fill in these blanks:
“Can you believe Trump did _______.”
“Can you believe Trump said _______.”
This is a dangerous dynamic in an election, since it removes one of the fundamental constraints on a candidate: the fear of alienating the general public.
Outrage fatigue gives Trump free rein to do or say virtually anything he pleases — and that in turn gives him greater capacity to mobilize his base. His rivals will have to navigate a new political reality, one where the typical playbooks are inoperative.
This doesn’t mean he can’t be defeated, but that it won’t happen with a traditional negative campaign strategy.
Nor does it mean we should stop expressing outrage at his offensive and bigoted words and actions, but we should understand that those expressions are being increasingly diluted in an ocean of outrage.
We will work tirelessly to prevent a Trump presidency, but we will not ignore the danger of outrage fatigue.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)