There’s no reason that competence and authenticity should be odds with one another. Yet many of the ways that we read authenticity—Bernie Sanders’ oversized suits, per say, or Trump’s disregard for political correctness—do defy the codes through which we usually measure a candidate’s fitness for office.
What separates Trump from his predecessors is his willingness, and the willingness of his supporters, to give up any pretense of subtly or slyness. Trump’s campaign, despite what the headlines say, is not unprecedented in this way. It has simply set at center stage the racial politics that Republicans have long trafficked in but preferred to dress in finer rhetorical disguises.