Explaining Donald Trump’s Dick

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Why did Donald Trump inexplicably defend the size of his penis in Thursday’s debate? Because he’s unnaturally sensitive about it? Because, as Jeet Heer suggests, it’s part of a venerable history of monarchs and presidents? Because Hillary Clinton would be the first penis-free president, so it’s a good way of contrasting himself?

Yes to all of the above, I suppose. Plus the fact that Trump is a self-centered boor. But this is all background noise. The real reason, which Trump understands instinctively, is simpler.

Trump’s supporters love him not so much for his policies but for his promise of toughness. Without that, he’s nothing. And to his supporters, toughness is deeply tied up with virility and manliness. This includes all the affairs, the succession of young wives, the supermodels, and the fact that he brags endlessly about it. Most of his supporters don’t precisely approve of all this stuff, but they nonetheless admire it when it comes from someone so successful. If that’s what it takes to save the country, then that’s what it takes.

So Trump made it clear that his manliness is quite intact, thank you very much. This is, if you’ll pardon the pun, all part of the package. It’s true that Marco Rubio fired the first shot a few days earlier, but that never came up in the debate. Trump brought it up out of the blue. He wanted to bring it up.

Everyone in the press mocks him for this nationally televised display of crudeness, but Trump brought it up because he wanted to assure his supporters he was a tough guy. And I’ll bet it worked.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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