‘Martin Luther King on Steroids’? Meet a Perfect MAGA Mirror.

Ah, the double edge of a Donald Trump endorsement. On the one hand, the MAGA chieftain has commanded his tribe to vote for you, and that can be enough to propel a candidate into the winner’s circle. On the other hand, you’re stuck with whatever loopy language and loopier logic he used.

In endorsing Mark Robinson for governor of my home state, North Carolina, Trump called him “Martin Luther King on steroids.” Trump didn’t leave it at that. “I think you’re better than Martin Luther King,” he told Robinson at a rally in Greensboro, N.C., last weekend. “I think you are Martin Luther King times two.”

I think that there are better mathematicians and more trustworthy historians of the civil rights movement than Trump, but I also think that his remarks are kind of perfect. They exemplify how far the MAGA brigade travels from reality into gaudy, even grotesque, hyperbole.

This is one riveting and profoundly consequential governor’s race. The Tuesday primaries in North Carolina made it official: Robinson, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina, is the Republican nominee and would be the state’s first Black governor, while the Democratic nominee is the state attorney general, Josh Stein, who would be the state’s first Jewish governor.

But the contest isn’t really about milestones, nor will it hinge on them. It will instead be a moment-defining referendum on the virtues of theatrically (and sometimes hypocritically) mouthing off against the system (Robinson) versus dutifully working within it (Stein), on seat-of-the-pants amateurishness versus extensive government experience, on sensationalism versus seriousness, on dark conspiratorial fantasies versus unentertaining realities.

Does that sound like any other race you know, and does Robinson sound like any other populist you’ve met? He’s Trump on steroids, Trump times two. If you’re an arsonist, Robinson is your guy. If you’re an institutionalist, you’re a Stein stan.

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