Too many pundits and pols on the right, marinated in a toxic mix of self-pity and obtuseness, are bemused or even enchanted by Donald Trump. Considering what Trump stands for and how he presents himself to voters, this is both alarming and confounding.

Peter Wehner aptly describes Trump:

In the past he’s advocated a single-payer health care system (which even ObamaCare didn’t give us), called for massive tax increases, favored abortion rights, and revealed himself to be hyper-protectionist. Today he attacks those who want to reform Social Security and Medicare, the main threats to our fiscal future. He was a registered Democrat from 2001 to 2008. As of 2011, he had given a majority of his $1.3 million political contributions to Democrats, including Harry Reid. If that wasn’t enough, Trump has a fondness for conspiracy theories, from linking autism to vaccinations to being America’s most prominent birther. . . . For some, it seems, the attraction is found in the Trump style, which is precisely the concern. Mr. Trump’s announcement speech was rambling, vague, shallow, simplistic, insulting, ad hominem, and self-obsessed. He has no governing agenda and no governing philosophy; all he has is an attitude. And that attitude is crude and off-putting.

It says a lot about a strain of disagreeable conservatism that there are voices who should know better who nevertheless fawn over Trump. Surely there are Trump fans who try to demonstrate their conservative credentials by slumming, as it were, with the most extreme and unhinged elements in the party. The more ignorant, anti-intellectual and outlandish the character, the more attraction they hold for those who want to be seen battling the “establishment” alongside grass-roots activists. And there are some who are simply courting controversy for controversy sake, desirous of the attention, the clicks and the viewers. Then there are GOP contenders who may be loath to criticize Trump, fearing a tongue-lashing and hoping to siphon off his saner followers.

At play here is, I think, a fundamental misunderstanding about the kind of leader voters are looking for. Sure, in the hard-core GOP circles the problem is that they don’t have someone loud enough, harsh enough, bombastic enough, anti-immigrant enough and disrespectful enough. They paint someone who seeks reasonable compromise as a fool or sellout and imagine that stridency is a selling point. For them, Trump is their man. But those aspiring to put a Republican in the White House need to get out of the right-wing bubble and talk to voters who are not in intellectually and physically in deep-red America. They might understand why Trump and Trump worship are so counterproductive to the GOP.

A great number of voters think Republicans are uncompassionate, excessively deferential toward the rich and clueless about the sensibilities of minorities (even when it comes to overt symbolism like the Confederate flag). Rather than Trump, conservatives should look to governors in states with high percentages of minorities and Democrats, such as Michigan, Tennessee, Nevada and New Mexico, who have learned that “conservative” does not mean endlessly confrontational. These Republicans can speak in ways that unite their states and advance conservative goals. Sure, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are not as flashy as Trump. But they and a slew of other Republican leaders are the real “winners” — how Trump loves “winners” — both because they are electable and because they further conservative goals.

A GOP that genuflects toward Trump, grouses about being obliged to take down the Confederate flag, celebrates “self-deportation” and thinks compromise and civility are for losers is not one with a prayer of getting to the White House.