In an earlier column, I suggested that the likely Republican presidential candidate has begun obliterating the boundaries of discourse and behavior that are indispensable for a functioning civil society, not to mention for the moral atmosphere to which we Torah Jews are passionately committed. Through his shameless serial lying, threats of violence and retaliation, vulgar insults and obscenities, egomaniacal boasting and utter lack of conscience and self-critique — all abetted by incessant media coverage of his every hiccup — his candidacy is sorely testing and dangerously tearing at the tenuous moral fabric of a country already well in the throes of spiritual and ethical decline.

But there’s a further havoc wrought when someone seeking to become a nation’s leader breaches time-honored standards, not just of formal propriety and etiquette, but the very bounds of basic decency, without facing severe censure, if not complete banishment from public life. That havoc is the threat it poses to certain particularly vulnerable societal groups — chief among them, the Jews.

Historically, persecution of Jews has begun with sustained verbal violence, culminating in the demonization and dehumanization that legitimizes actual violence. Jews need a society in which there are taboos, red lines not to be crossed with regard to every type of violence. The reality is that the chatter in darkened pubs and truck stops always has been and will be filled with toxic Jew-hatred. But those demons remain bottled up and largely harmless, unless they are released by someone with stature and an enraptured following whom he plays like a fiddle, someone who is, au contraire, lauded for “telling it like it is.”

Our people’s long, tumultuous history has given us good reason to fear certain societal phenomena, which in combination have, time and again, spelled grave danger for us. One is “mobocracies,” mass movements in which raw, primal emotions like anger, fear, hatred and revenge prevail over reason and humanity. This candidate’s blood-and-soil populist nationalism fits the bill precisely, attracting the adulation of masses, because it is not their brains but the suppressed rage filling their guts that he excites.

Another is the invention of societal scapegoats, particularly when Jews are prominent among them, as they are within the precincts of the liberal PC culture and the financial industry that are this candidate’s supposed bête noire. A third is the trafficking in conspiracy theories, the more nonsensical the better, like, say, that there’s a need “to find out who knocked down the Twin Towers,” or that Ted Cruz’ father was somehow complicit in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

But more than anything else, there is the man himself. His ego is fragile beyond words, resulting in the irony that the slayer of the PC dragon himself is hyper-allergic to even a word of critique, and is never, ever contrite. But his verbiage is brutal, slashing, egging on violence by his fans. Hundreds of bikers — those specimens of gentle, peace-loving citizens — volunteer to provide “security” at his rallies.

He, who only selects the “best people,” surrounds himself with figures who are themselves minor thugs, or have served true thugs, like top advisor Paul Manafort, a former lobbyist for deposed Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych. He’s a serially failed businessman who plays a real one on TV, and a tough-talking weakling and wannabe authoritarian who envies and fawns over real ones like Putin (who he doesn’t know to have killed anyone, unlike the US, which does “plenty of killing”) and the Communist Chinese dictators (who put down the Tiananmen “riot”). He promises to gut the First Amendment’s free speech protections, and to force American soldiers to commit war crimes. He virtually never speaks of individual liberty, of values like compassion and honesty, of fealty to the Constitution.

His disavowal of even the most vile hate speech is intermittent, a tool to use depending on whether it advances his purposes. He plays both sides, dog-whistling to his base of “white trash” xenophobes, while issuing formulaic disavowals for the benefit of the broader public. Earlier in the campaign, it was the refusal to renounce the support of David Duke and the KKK, followed soon thereafter by the demonstrable lie that he hadn’t heard the question posed.

More recently, he disavowed Duke’s comments about “Jewish supremacists,” and the same week told reporters he “had no message” for his supporters who deluged a Jewish writer with anti-Semitic vitriol for writing a piece critical of his wife (who said the writer “provoked” the response). Orthodox political pundit Ben Shapiro says he has “experienced more pure, unadulterated anti-Semitism since coming out against [this candidate] than at any other time in my political career.”

He humiliates, threatens, and bullies fellow candidates, journalists, elected officials, anyone who dares to criticize or even question anything about him. But most crucially, he verbally brutalizes the vulnerable among us, mocking the taboos against such talk that for good reason exist in humane society. So for the disabled, for women, for the prisoner of war, so for anyone he adjudges a “loser,” and they are many.

And when he does so, public reaction takes three forms. Some spin his cowardice as “courage,” and lionize him for “telling it like it is.” A large swath of decent citizens gasp, taken aback by the sheer brazen savagery of the man. By daring to stomp all over our fragile societal compact of decent, compassionate behavior, he is taunting, veritably daring the rest of us to silence him.

But no one ever does. And over time, given the realities of human nature, the outrage and the disgust subside, because “it’s just him being him again.” Day after day, this candidate — far too dignified a term for a man who is simply out-of-control, a truly damaged human being inflicting his psychoses on an entire nation — says and does things that not one of us would tolerate for even a moment from anyone in our personal lives.

And then there are the apologists of various stripes who discount anything this candidate may say or do as just so much brilliant election-year posturing. Once in office, they assure us, he will rejoin civilized society, or at least those surrounding him will civilize him.

How naivee, as to this man’s nature and to human nature generally, can one be? I’ve never believed Barack Obama to be an anti-Semite, and neither do I believe that this candidate is one. He is devoid of all ideology and all principle other than one — winning. He has failed miserably at selling everything from mortgages to airplane rides to steaks, but has succeeded wildly at endlessly reinventing and selling one thing — himself. But this all doesn’t matter, because even if he were to turn into a saint — Our Lady of the Repentant Vulgarian? — he has released demons into the national atmosphere that will not easily, if ever, be recaptured. The stage has now been set for a demagogue in some future time of crisis to build a national campaign on telling it like it is about the Jews.

But much more to the point, this 70-year-old is not changing. Everything he has done during this campaign is in his very DNA, part of a documented pattern of behavior going back four decades. We’ll revisit that history at a future point, but here we’ll suffice with saying that if you don’t know the name Roy Cohn, you can’t possibly truly understand what makes this candidate tick.

After serving as counsel to Communist-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy, Cohn became the ultimate New York “fixer” for legal clients ranging from every Mafia boss to New York’s Archbishop. According to the candidate’s biographer, journalist Wayne Barrett, Trump hired Cohn as his attorney, and Cohn became his “mentor, his constant advisor on every significant aspect of his business and personal life.” An anti-Semitic Jew, the deeply corrupt Cohn was eventually disbarred and died of AIDS, but one word encapsulates his personal and professional credo: “vicious.” His modus operandi was to forever intimidate, attack, lie, slander, and insult, and never back down or apologize. Sound familiar?

Indeed, here’s how the candidate describes what he most admired about his mentor: “If you need someone to get vicious toward an opponent, you get Roy…. He brutalized for you.” Is it any wonder, then, that this candidate’s stated outlook on life is this? “Man is the most vicious of animals and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.”