I know this will upset a LOT of Republicans, but I have to say it: Donald Trump is our Howard Dean. That is, he is the guy who generates a lot of enthusiasm among a fairly large group, whose appeal is an absolute mystery to those outside that group, and whose followers will be quietly disavowing for years to come as soon as the enthusiasm wears off. Or, to put it in another way, he is the guys whose bumper sticker followers are now so proud to display, and which they will hide in embarrassment for years to come.
I was thinking of comparing Trump to other populist candidates. Say, Huey Long, William Jennings Bryant, or Father Coughlin, but it really doesn't fit. Yes, he has a populist base, and often tries to sound like a man of the people, populist type, but he really just doesn't quite fit. Despite all the media mockery, and liberal shock at his beliefs they find outrageous, he really is not your typical populist. The one's I listed had real issues to which they were dedicated. For better or worse (and most of those I listed fall far into the "worse" category), they were candidates with real issues. Trump is more a weathervane of moderate populist, semi-conservative opinion. In that regard, he is more like Ross Perot, or even more like Bill Clinton, than any of those I listed above. Which is why, in the end, I decided he was, in the final analysis, a mirror image of Howard Dean, and, having given it some thought, unless he somehow hands on and wins the nomination -- creating the potential for a monumental embarrassment for the Republicans -- he will probably end up just like Dean. The only difference being Dean had only one embarrassing moment everyone recalls, while Trump will doubtless stick around to give us several.