There is one more explanation for all the bigwigs and pundits rationalising Trump-support, while considering themselves good people who deplore racism. Mr Trump’s critics, they contend, show snobbish contempt for the tycoon’s voters—notably older, often less-educated whites who feel left behind by wrenching social and economic changes. One congressman backing Mr Trump, Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, uses a term much in vogue just now, calling Trump voters “the unprotected”. It comforts Trump-endorsers to think they are standing up for underdogs, but they are letting themselves off too easily. Other Republicans seeking the presidency endlessly promise to protect anxious Americans, with everything from air strikes on Islamic State to curbs on work visas. Mr Trump stands out for the savagery with which he vows to frighten, punish and hurt those who he says are doing America down. That’s not protection, but vengeance.

Conservative grandees preparing to back Mr Trump are arguably the worst snobs of all. For they know that he is making promises to his supporters that are both nasty and impossible to keep. Like every tribune of the dirty right, Mr Trump thinks his voters are dupes: that is why he panders and lies to them without a qualm. If Republican bigwigs have shame or sense enough, there is still time—just—to disown him.

This story from The Economist has lessons for America:

RAMZAN KADYROV has few inhibitions. Last week, just before the first anniversary of the murder of Boris Nemtsov, a liberal Russian opposition leader, by a member of Mr Kadyrov’s security services, the Chechen strongman posted a video on his Instagram page. It depicted Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister, in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. “Kasyanov is in Strasbourg to get money for the opposition,” Mr Kadyrov commented under the video, in a clear warning to opposition politicians. “Whoever still doesn’t get it, will.”  .   .   .

Rank-and-file security officers resent Mr Kadyrov, seeing him as one of the rebels they fought during the first Chechen war. But Mr Kadyrov enjoys protection from Mr Putin, who responded to his protégé’s latest provocations by calling him an effective worker. The Kremlin awarded Mr Kadyrov a medal the day after Nemtsov’s murder, and he continues to receive ample funding from Moscow. Last year, while overall budget transfers to Russia’s regions declined by 3%, funding for Chechnya rose by 8%. Mr Putin has ordered his cabinet to transfer ownership of a large oil and gas company in Chechnya from federal control to that of Mr Kadyrov’s government.

Ever since the Soviet collapse, Chechnya has divided Russian society. Ironically, in the early 1990s when Mr Kadyrov was fighting against Moscow, Russian liberals—including Nemtsov—campaigned against Russia’s Chechen war. Nemtsov collected a million signatures in support of stopping it. Conversely, the rabid nationalists who once cheered Russia’s brutal campaign against the Chechens now see Mr Kadyrov as their hero in a battle against liberals and Westernisers.

Mr Kadyrov has turned Chechnya into a caricature of Russian authoritarianism, with his own personality cult and system of extortion, torture and killings to keep the population in line. As Alexander Baunov of the Moscow Carnegie Centre argues, Mr Kadyrov appeals to Russians who consider the current regime too soft. They see in Chechnya a model for Russia’s future. Mr Kadyrov’s impunity brings that one step closer.

I predict that if Trump takes over the GOP, the party will switch from being anti-Russian to pro-Russian, for exactly the same reason that the Russian right went from being anti-Chechen to pro-Chechen.  The dirty right is on the rise in Russia and Eastern Europe, and to a lesser extent in Japan, China, Turkey and India.  It will be interesting to see if America jumps on board.  It’s a moment of truth for the GOP.

PS.  From Matt Yglesias:

I was a liberal Donald Trump apologist. Not a liberal enjoying the chaos Trump was sowing in the Republican Party, but someone who welcomed his ideological heterodoxy as a step away from the cliff of endless polarization that offered a more moderate substantive agenda than Marco Rubio’s. I held on to that conviction through Friday’s protest violence and Saturday’s torrent of “enough is enough” takes.

I was wrong. Sunday morning, in the context of what he knew to be a growing controversy about violent behavior on the part of his supporters, Trump tweeted what can really only be interpreted as a threat to send goons to beat up Bernie Sanders supporters.

Update (from Jim Geraghty):

ADDENDA: Jonathan Chait cheered Trump’s rise a month ago, believing it would expose the dark side of the Republican party. Now he’s realizing just what he’s been cheering for:

My previous view of Trump was as a kind of vaccine. The Republican Party relies on the covert mobilization of racial resentment and nationalism. Trump, as I saw it, was bringing into the open that which had been intentionally submerged. It seemed like a containable dose of disease, too small to take over its host, but large enough to set off a counter-reaction of healthy blood cells. But the outbreak of violence this weekend suggests the disease may be spreading far wider than I believed, and infecting healthy elements of the body politic.

I remain convinced that Trump cannot win the presidency. But what I failed to account for was the possibility that his authoritarian style could degrade American politics even in defeat. There is a whiff in the air of the notion that the election will be settled in the streets — a poisonous idea that is unsafe in even the smallest doses.