This is not to say that Mrs. Clinton's campaign is an unserious one, just that the nature of her opponent, and the judgement of too many journalists about her, treated her as at best an imposter, someone with no real business putting herself forward in the way she has, or, worse, a ball-busting criminal, ripe for prison.
That this latter case was made by a ridiculous melange of failures, dimwits, and outright sociopaths, all too clear in their markings even as they were taken seriously, made any considered criticism of her policies and judgement mostly meaningless. See? Not serious.
It has been the single point made over and over for over a decade here at H&J that the GOP was either about to implode, or, as events went forward, in the process of doing so. It is now only a handy conceit of news organizations that the Republican Party is an intact entity at all. This notion could change shortly.
See, a real political party has a coherent voice and trusted standard bearers. It is able to institute policy on the national and local levels in accord with norms that flow directly from our organizing documents. It has a consistent means of choosing leaders on many levels and trusting them with greater power and responsibility, to the party and the nation, as they rise to greater prominence. There is grooming and schmoozing, backslapping and horse trading, and hundreds, nay thousands, of political lunches, dinners, conferences, town halls and fund raising events in which the political animals (and here let me say I have tremendous respect for those politicians who put in the constituent work) are vetted and chosen.
Somewhere along the line, this was something the GOP either forgot, or decided was bullshit. Personally, I start the unwinding of the party on the night in 2000 when that squalid little man and Karl Rove screwed John McCain in the South Carolina primary.
But even here, that the charge that McCain fathered a child with an African-American woman could have carried such conclusively negative weight in the first place, spoke to an illness already raging, a persistent low grade fever that first enabled the worst presidency since the Civil War, also begun in the Palmetto State, and then, once the nation had the good sense to choose Barack Obama as president, became utterly septic to the host.
I've probably said this here before, but at first I thought that electing BHO president opened a door, and it surely did, but it also turned over a rock, and the bugs crawled everywhere. I've also said that the clear knowledge that Hilary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee drove what was left of the GOP, its most coherent (in the sense it held fast) and hateful plurality, into backing a manifest conman, a frankly racist and proudly misogynist jackass, to take up the standard once held by U.S. Grant, William Howard Taft, Ike Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.
Put another way, an opportunistic infection took over a gravely weakened patient.
A month ago, when many were worried about the nature of the campaign and the apparent appeal of D. Trump to so many, I was going to say that this is why we have elections, to bring the stupid up and air it out. That we've had such relatively polite contests over the last 120 or so years is more an accident than a matter of essential norms. This year's has been a throwback to the more rank campaigns of the early 19th century, and that's okay.
Because the last time a major political party collapsed we had a war that killed around 600,000 men and maimed many more, and while it is disheartening to see so many now loyal to another lost and unworthy cause, one that draws some identity from the previous one, it is heartening to see that the electoral system works pretty well, and, like a good sewer, is worthy of respect while it handles the most deplorable refuse tossed into it for a long time.
UPDATE: An alternative, though not especially contradictory, view of how political parties work, from Adam Davidson in The New Yorker. To sum up, the GOP is still toast.