Trump for America
Donald Trump has been in the news a lot these days. Part of this, of course, is because he is topping the polls for Republican presidential candidates (both nationally and in New Hampshire). I believe an even bigger part is that he is a perfect reflection of many Americans’ desires.
When is a gaffe not a gaffe? The media loves a good sound bite and Donald does not disappoint. Recently he generalized about Mexicans being rapists and murderers. He has explained how Senator John McCain should not be considered a war hero because he was captured. This caused his poll numbers to increase and lead Rachel Maddow and Dan Rather to evaluate him as gaffe proof. [It is worth noting that his disapproval numbers also went up, which far exceed his approval ratings.]
He can’t win. There are all manner of stories about how Trump can’t win or how his campaign is about to implode. Many of these i find comically naive. The Business Insider seems to think his thin answers to questions will doom his bid. Did these folks sleep through the 2012 campaign? Do they not remember when Mitt Romney shot back at the CNN reporter who was trying to get any kind of answer from him on the abortion question (which Romney kept dodging), “You ask the questions you like, I will give you the answers I like”. The only thing i am surprised at is that Trump is bothering to answer questions at all, rather than simply repeating stump speech platitudes when he’s asked a question, like almost all the other candidates do.
A flip flopper with no solid positions. Turns out there is no “issues” tab on Trump’s website and his positions on everything from gun control to taxing the rich to health care to immigration have changed and or contradicted themselves over the past few years. He has no campaign director. And while the Republicans have historically used flip flopping to beat up opposition candidates, no one seems to care much with Trump.
The clever company he keeps. If you are running for public office, you need to have brilliant advisers, especially your lawyers. Michael Cohen is Trump’s lawyer who recently threatened the Daily Beast after an article citing Ivana Trump’s 1990 claim that she was raped by Donald, which she made during their 1990 divorce procedure. In this regard Cohen said:
“You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”
Actually, you can. Every state in the country has overturned this archaic statute. The marital rape exemption in New York was struck down in 1984, years before this incident.
Trump is a Troll. Nate Silver (who correctly predicted every state in the country in the 2012 Presidential election) cleverly frames Trump as the world’s largest troll in his blog fivethirtyeight.com.
Some of the compelling points Silver makes include:
- Trolls feed off the negative attention, claiming it makes them a victim and proves that everyone is out to get them
- Trump isn’t doing especially well with tea party voters or with any other identifiable group of Republicans
- It could be that public attention is triggered by media coverage rather than the other way around
- In the crowded GOP field, low information voters are identifying with Trump as the only name they know
Silver also talks about the so-called “discovery, scrutiny and decline” cycle which has been found in the past two primary campaigns for candidates like Trump, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain — bursts of attention that coincide with spikes in the polls but then fade or even burst after several weeks.
Trump represents many Americans. For me, it is the highly cynical analysis of David Badesh of the New Civil Rights Movement, in his article “Trump holding first place is a reflection of GOP Voters’ Ugly Beliefs“, that describes Trump’s success best:
There is a significant number of Republican voters who like immigrant-bashing. They like lies about entire groups of people. They don’t actually care about the treatment of vets, nor about our service members whom they keep wanting to send off to war, and refuse to pay for their needs upon returning home.
This part of the GOP electorate who supports a man with no actual policies or solutions likes having a scapegoat to explain their own failures, their own bad choices, on whom to pin their own hate, their own xenophobia, their own selfishness, bigotry, and hate.
Donald Trump doesn’t have any actual beliefs – other than money, fame, and ego. He has merely held up a mirror to the Republican electorate. It is not he who is the ugly American – for he is merely the reflection of a large part of the GOP electorate’s beliefs.
The media and the GOP establishment will tear Trump down. We need not fear his presidency. But we would be wise to fear the popularity of his hate, which represents a significant part of what America believes and will last far past election day.