Whenever I write about Donald J Trump I shudder at two thoughts.
The first is that his mother, Mary-Anne MacLeod, comes from a small village on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland close to my great-grandfather’s home.
By one estimate he is my fifth-cousin, once removed. If this is the case then he is not far enough removed for my liking.
The second thought that makes me shudder is Trump may actually win.
Back in May I wrote in UK’s Independent newspaper that if ‘the left’ were not careful Trump may win, possibly in a landslide.
My logic was that if one does not give respect and listen to views the proponents of those views will only harden.
They will become passionate and in a non-compulsory voting system – they will get out and vote.
Getting out to vote is an issue unfamiliar with Australian political commentators as Australia’s compulsory voting system means political parties do not have to worry about mobilising supporters.
Hence Australians often forget that winning and losing US election is more about mobilising the base to get off their rear-ends and vote.
Pinching the other side’s voters is a secondary objective.
Say what you like about Trump, but one thing he has done has been to mobilise and inspire a whole lot of people who normally do not engage in the political process and do not vote.
In the Republican Primaries 40 per cent of voters were first time voters with 60 per cent of them going for Trump.
Although at the time of writing the Trump machine is misfiring on all cylinders, giving us hope that he may lose, lately a third thought has made me shudder.
If Trump were to lose, do the ‘Deplorables’ as Clinton called them in a title they now embrace, climb back under the rock from which they came or does their new-found political mobilisation become permanent?
If the Deplorables do disappear from the political landscape and the mainstream Republicans wrest control of their party then that would be a good thing.
But this did not happen after Gingrich’s Contract with America, nor with Sarah Palin, nor with the Tea Party.
In each of those cases the Republicans moved to the right, creating a ‘new normal’.
The party base went right too, with the party becoming more radical, resulting in fertile ground for Trump to plot and ultimately become the nominee.
But what if this is not the finish?
What if Trump loses and his supporters look for a new champion in whom banning Muslim immigration, building a wall with Mexico and celebrating tax avoidance becomes not the fringe but the mainstream?
This is a frightening thought.
Imagine if after a Trump loss, a more extreme version came? First Gingrich, then Palin, then Trump, then…?
If Trump were to win, and against all better judgment, became a good President, then that would be an acceptable outcome.
If Trump were to win and fail miserably, there may be consequences for the world, but maybe, just maybe, the Deplorables will see the errors of their way.
But if Trump loses, the Deporables are likely to become even more active. This is a horrible thought.
Andrew MacLeod is a visiting professor to Kings College London, a non-executive director to Australian and US companies, a former high level UN official and past CEO of the Committee for Melbourne. He can be followed on @AndrewMMacLeod.