Republican Party leaders have dismissed Donald Trump as “just” a celebrity since last summer. Yet, as much as the Republican establishment might want to deny it, Trump’s improbable candidacy in the 2016 presidential election is actually a product of the GOP’s decision 60 years ago to elevate actors to the rank of politicians. And Trump’s loss in last night’s Iowa caucuses does nothing to change the pattern.

By Kathryn Cramer Brownell