Donald Trump clinching the Republican nomination wasn't a shock, or even a surprise, in the narrowest sense. He'd led the polls for months. Before Tuesday, he'd won primary contests in 27 states. So it's hard to remember just how unprecedented this is — a businessman with no political experience and a history of misogynistic and bigoted statements capturing the nomination of a party whose leadership seemed appalled by his campaign.
Don't get used to it, the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne wrote on Thursday: "Staying shocked for six months is hard. It is also absolutely necessary."
Dionne cautions Republicans against falling in line behind Trump just to prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency, and Democrats against interpreting his success as endorsement of populism:
Honorable and brave conservatives should not lose their nerve under pressure from conventional politicians or the very lobbyists and big donors Trump likes to denounce… No one on the left should applaud the rise of Trump as representing a friendly form of "populism" — let alone view him as the leader of a mass movement of the working class. He is no such thing.
In other words, Dionne is arguing against trying to squeeze the extraordinary contours of the 2016 election into the usual paradigm, where the two candidates are portrayed as rough equivalents with different ideas about policy and politics. (Vox's David Roberts argued Thursday that this could be inevitable and definitely will be depressing.)
It's incredibly rare to have a major-party nominee condemned by voices within his own party as unfit for office. In the 186 days still remaining until Election Day, Dionne argues, we can't forget how unusual and shocking Trump's candidacy really is.