The dust having settled on the first GOP debate, the bad news is Donald Trump has apparently been given a free pass to continue his rants before a growing TV audience mesmerized by the thought of what comes next.

The good news is the “Donald” has about as much chance of capturing the presidency as Kim Kardashian. The biggest difference is he thinks he can.

Trump sees this race as just another annoying, long drawn-out, but necessary business negotiation where he expects his offer will prevail over all others put on the table.

For him politics is nothing more than an exchange of goods and services between a qualified seller with a keen understanding of the marketplace and the consumers—the voters who will know a real bargain when they see one.

The fact that Trump is peddling snake oil with little or no intrinsic value is of no consequence to a significant portion of the electorate dazzled by his self-aggrandizing platitudes and more than willing to overlook his conceits.

These are voters angry with the present state of politics and looking for a hero who can take it to the establishment and will stand up for their rights. Never mind that Trump’s principal credential entitling him to run is the net worth of his real estate holdings—real or imagined.

Trump evinces not merely anti-government populism—Sen. Rand Paul’s credo—but a fierce anti-intellectualism which mocks the very idea that meaningful dialogue is necessary at all when the answers are so self-evident.

It is as if the certitude of one’s position if expressed repeatedly, irrespective of any facts. is reason enough to support it. Putting it more bluntly, addressing the issues can only cloud them further.

As just one example, just the other day when asked what he would do to spur job growth Trump replied, “You’ll see details. But basically I’m telling you I’ll just bring them back. It’s called negotiation.”

Need more be said? The supreme confidence with which such utterances are made apparently dispels any concerns of his followers who are satisfied he will somehow show the way.

At some point this wholesale belittling of the voter’s intelligence is bound to derail the Trump juggernaut, but at what cost and by what means?

The path to the GOP nomination has certainly been muddied by his entry, and the media is making certain Trump gets all the attention he craves.

Since they cannot boycott a candidate so high in the standings (at least as measured by Fox News and a handful of other polling organizations somewhat less biased), the job must be left to fifteen other GOP candidates who with only three exceptions, (Sen. Paul, Gov. Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina) have shown little interest in tangling with Trump.

Keeping him in the Republican camp may be a safer alternative for now then having him launch a third party bid, something he has threatened to do if he fails to get the nomination. Of course this holds the other candidates hostage to a form of blackmail which is not likely to sit well for very long.

Furthermore, it could set in motion a scenario that worked well for Bill Clinton in 1992 when Independent, Ross Perot garnered 18% of the popular vote–enough in the minds of many to deny the election to George H.W. Bush.

On the other side, Dem. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Socialist candidate from Vermont, poses a similar danger to frontrunner Hillary Clinton who is looking nervously at the liberal wing of her own party that is raising questions about some of her past decisions and true loyalties.

Whether a third party bid by Trump were strong enough to shift the balance to the Democrats, notwithstanding Sander’s efforts to play spoiler or even run himself as an Independent remains to be seen.

Third parties have not fared particularly well throughout our history and there is little reason to believe that might change.

While both major party brands have taken a beating lately and the numbers of registered voters in both are continuing to fall, the GOP’s minority status in proportion to the nation’s overall electorate would suggest that it field a nominee with the talent and temperament to compete in the free world’s highest stakes election.

What’s clear is that we have entered unchartered waters where serious candidates with impressive backgrounds and compelling views have been upstaged by a misogynistic billionaire determined to turn the 2016 presidential campaign into a Circus Maximus.

The public deserves better and while the conventional political norms and rules may not easily apply in the current environment, the future of the American presidency is not a subject to be trifled with.

If the upcoming debates exceed the record audience ratings scored by Fox this time around, the grading should be on the merits of the issues dissected and discussed, not the entertainment value of one candidate who threw a party for himself he didn’t even have to pay for.