A brief note on the social benefits of Donald Trump

On the TV, a man in the crowd says to the camera: “I like Donald Trump. He says the things I want to say, but I’m afraid to.”

I think we all understand that Mr. Trump does not really expect to be president. The central concern in Mr. Trump’s life is not Mexicans, golf courses, money or public affairs. It’s how to feed the tiger. The rampant narcissist always has this problem: it’s never enough. The attention. And like electricity, attention is very hard to store. It’s there and then it’s gone, and you have to make more everyday. Mr. Trump’s candidacy for president is a desperate exercise in prolonged attention creation, in which we are all bit players.

All is not wasted, however. The candidacy of Mr. Trump gets to the very basics of politics: everything must be heard. Economic theory assumes that all market participants see all prices, political theory assumes that all voters know all the possibilities. Neither exists in reality, but more is better than less.

“He says the things I want to say, but I’m afraid to.” — for that vox pop alone, Mr. Trump’s candidacy is valid. His presence puts the ugly on the table beside the lipsticked pigs, the idealists, the canny traders, the tough muddlers and the brazen liars.

Politics exists because we have to live together. Because we wanted a society where the strongest idiot didn’t run the village, where the bully didn’t run the playground, where tough guys couldn’t beat their wives with impunity. Mr. Trump reminds us of this.

The same thing that makes Donald Trump conspicuous makes him unelectable. Nobody understand this better than the man himself. But he’s doing all of us a service. He’s reminding us what it would be like if we accidentally elected him. Or someone like him, who isn’t so honest. The candidate to fear is the one who thinks like Mr. Trump but talks like a politician.

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