Trump at the turning
© Getty Images

Real estate tycoon Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE may have recently jumped the shark, some pundits have suggested. He will likely be outplayed in the Republican convention in July when the establishment fights back and pitches its own man.


But Trump's role in American life will not be over. He may not have the nomination or the presidency, but he will literally have his own army: A loyal army of followers left behind when America's world of work went elsewhere. They will not go away. And they have found their man.

I suggested here last July that Trump is the mythical Trickster "who churns the ages, and the others' fate depends on where they stand in relation to the Trickster. He is the one necessary component in the campaign so far."

Now Corey Pein writes in The Baffler, "I propose that Donald Trump is the personification of a Norse god named Loki." And Esther Goldberg, in The American Spectator, says Trump is best explained and illuminated by Friedrich Nietzsche in an allegory from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," of a tightrope walker walking intrepidly between the ages.

Midway across to the new age, the tightrope walker classically reaches a crisis, and so have we today.

Trump is the guide from one age to the next, Nietzsche's "brightly colored fellow" who suddenly appears behind us, throwing insults at us and threatening to jump over us when we are stuck in the middle of the tightrope.

His rapid rise may have been anticipated by the sudden appearance of someone with vastly different thinking and a very different approach a decade before: Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). In 2009, I called him the "most dangerous man in America," as "Jefferson's vision has awakened again in the world with the rise of Ron Paul."

Paul appears to have little use or interest in Trump, is at the polar opposite on many issues like free trade, and does not support him for president. But Trump might take a look at Paul's 2008 book, "The Revolution: A Manifesto." Trump, the unformed, fledgling politico, might find something for himself in this seasoned outsider veteran and mature self-proclaimed revolutionary.

Paul was the first in our century to challenge conservative orthodoxy head on. He fiercely opposed the invasion of Iraq by the Republican administration; today, Trump condemns the invasion. Paul might have quickly disappeared into the night had he not caught the imagination of young voters. In 2011, he won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll for the second year in a row with 30 percent of the vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the eventual 2012 nominee, came in second with 23 percent.

Conservatism then approached a sea change, and we are now in the midst of it, but only halfway across on a tightrope as Goldberg suggests, tentatively perched high above the abyss.

Today, conservatives have started to listen to Paul and he is a favorite commentator on both Fox Business and CNN. The think tanks and apparatchiks will continue to advance scorn on Trump's positions, as they did with Paul's, like on Trump's opposition to NATO — "an entangling alliance that we would be better off without," Paul says — but young people who have not yet been endlessly formed, prompted and persuaded by teachers, politicians and mainstream media will eventually ask, "Why again, are we supposed to pay for the defense of France, Germany, Italy and Poland?"

And in time, more will hear as these archaic and obsolete castles of establishment orthodoxy based on World War II political dynamics fall away and begin to crumble. The long revealing interview with Trump in The Washington Post this weekend by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa suggests an acknowledgement that this man with the fiery big hair of Loki and alpha-dog stride could well be the next president of the United States.

The only question today for Donald Trump is this: Does this spirit — this native spirit of the times which has risen around him since July — remain formless? Or does it find form?

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at