Okay People, the Donald Trump Joke Is Over

Likening the bigoted egomaniac to a monster like Lord Voldemort was funny. But it's hard to laugh these days.

Left: Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  (Courtesy of Warner Bros.) Right: Donald Trump in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP)

Left: Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Courtesy of Warner Bros.) Right: Donald Trump in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP)

I discovered a new favorite game a couple months ago while rereading the Harry Potter series. I call it, simply, “Who said it: Lord Voldemort or Donald Trump?”

Provided you don’t catch Voldemort during a tender moment, the bigoted egomaniacs have a lot in common. Want to play, for old time’s sake?

“There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.” (Voldemort, who apparently read The Art of the Deal)

“My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.” (this one is Trump, master of the Veritaserum serum)

“I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me.” (Voldemort, by a hair)

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” (Trump, by a less dignified hair)

“I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they’re going back.” (Trump, right before outlining his position on mudbloods and muggles)

I’m not the first to connect the dots between the Dark Lord and the Donald. A genius Google Chrome extension changes all mentions of Trump to Voldemort or one of his aliases, including “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” “You-Know-Who” or “Tom Riddle.”

It was an amusing little feature for a minute, but honestly, like my Harry Potter game, it’s just not that much fun anymore.

Because as much as I like a good Trump joke — and I do, I do so much — I’m starting to wonder. While it was easy to laugh Trump off when he first announced his candidacy, to assume it was all a giant publicity stunt to launch his next reality show, it’s becoming harder and harder to find the humor in his campaign.

Almost a month ago, when asked about creating a database to track Muslim-Americans, Trump (or, as my browser now calls him, You-Know-Who) replied, “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.”

More than three weeks later, he’s still dominating the polls.

At some point, and I think it’s at this point, we have to stop treating Donald Trump like an easy, lazy punchline and what he really is: A legitimate, popular presidential candidate who denies the existence of global warming, who denies the humanity of immigrants and refugees, who is anti-Muslim, anti-woman, anti-poor and anti-vaccine. Who — in spite of this or because of this, pick your poison — is leading in the polls.

Now, polls are polls, especially at this stage of the game, and there’s no telling what will unfold over the next year. Even if he runs a perfectly executed campaign from here on out, the cynic in me says there’s no way we’ll ever see a President Trump. The second he poses a real threat to the establishment, I assume that Hillary and Jeb will pitch in to send him on a little vacation. (What, you’ve never met a paranoid conspiracy theorist before?)

But President Trump isn’t the scariest part. What’s really scary is that millions upon millions of us are standing behind him and his proposal to require Muslim-Americans to carry identification, by his assertions that global warming is nothing more than a myth created by jealous Chinese manufacturers.

If you want to, you can chalk Trump’s xenophobia and ignorance up to a publicity stunt. But his supporters aren’t turning out to rallies and retweeting him like crazy because they’re hoping to cut a deal with Fox come spring. They legitimately believe in his proposals and share his concerns, and they’re not going away. These people feel threatened enough in 2015 America to monitor mosques, and whether that’s rooted in reality or not is almost beside the point. Fear, by definition, isn’t reasonable, and it requires no FDA screening before being administered to the public. It has no checks and balances, it can’t be voted out of office. It is because it is, and that kind of justification tends to be powerful.

Personally, I’m done laughing at Trump. I’m retiring my Harry Potter quote game and using Firefox until I figure out how to disable this Chrome extension (help, please). Because like a wise man once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” — and that turned out to be pretty fucking scary.

Follow @IProposeToast on Twitter.