Ian Buruma in Project Syndicate:
The Democratic Party’s repudiation of these voters’ views as “deplorable” or “racist” stoked resentment of urban elites, driving many in search of a new political home. When Donald Trump appeared before workers and farmers in his red baseball cap, he articulated their antipathies coarsely but effectively. A louche product of a milieu in which shady real-estate deals skirted the world of organized crime, Trump shared some of the class resentment of people who could only dream of his wealth. Trump became their savior, and tied the Republican Party firmly to hard-right populism. Even without Trump as president, the GOP will remain his party for a long time.
The question is whether the Republicans would have gone that way anyway. Has Trump been a driver of political and social changes, or was he simply an unscrupulous opportunist who manipulated forces that were ready to be exploited? Is Trump simply the snarling face of a rotten political order stripped of its façade of “decency” and “civility”? Or did he cause a great deal of the rot?