Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Trump Train

Donald Trump is an enigma in politics.  Rules governing the other candidates seem not to apply to Mr. Trump.  Every media pundit is watching with baited breath just waiting for him to implode.  So far the typical gaffs that would have sent any other candidate to the bottom of the heap, bounce off his chest like bullets off the chest of Superman.  Why? 
It might be informative to look back at the other Republican hopefuls in the past to see how and why they imploded.  Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum won their share of primaries and lead in the polls for a while. We didn't know much about these people until they took the national stage.  When we got to know them better their message or their personality eventually got in the way.  Rick Perry uttered his famous "oops" when he could not remember one of the three agencies he would immediately do away with if elected. It doomed his campaign.  With Bachmann and Santorum it was  not a single gaff but a preponderance of ignorance that eventually did them in.  
Trump is not such a mystery.  He hasn't changed his stripes just because he announced he is running for President.  His gaffs, his over blown vibrato and his ego are not shocking to anyone, because we think we know Donald Trump. He is a celebrity, and one of the most visible Billionaires in America. His television persona portrays him as a mover and shaker who does not hesitate to "fire" someone on the air. But his qualifications for leadership are no more valid that the Kardashians's talents. 
In reality, Donald Trump is the poster boy for the Republican idea that rich people create jobs. He is the American Dream of a kid from New Jersey becoming a self made billionaire. He is all about money and how you can make more. I don't understand why Republicans are trying to distance themselves from a candidate who personifies all they represent.  If this "trickle down" theory of money flowing down from the top is valid, then wouldn't we want an ultra rich man at the top of the political hill? 

The problem is that some members of the electorate confuse celebrity for leadership.  And Mr Trump confuses Twitter followers for constitutes. Donald Trump has become the Howard Beale character from the 1976 movie "Network" insanely screaming "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore." He has struck a chord with people who are tired of politics as usual.  When people are faced with choices of another Clinton or another Bush for President they ARE mad as hell.  And like the network executives from the movie, the modern media is using Trump like they did Howard Beale. They are willing to exploit his insanity for good ratings ready to broadcast live the moment he jumps over the edge. When they are done with him they will move on to some other story for "rubber neckers". 
The irony is that Trump could become a third party candidate next year.  It would be a repeat of the H.W. Bush vs. Bill Clinton election when another billionaire, H. Ross Perot, ran against them. Perot captured the public imagination of having a "business man" run the country.  He pulled out of the race at the height of his popularity, only to re-enter the race a few months later.  It was impossible for him to gain the momentum. If he had stayed his course he might have gone all the way. I don't see Donald Trump making the same mistake. 
To compare the two, Perot said things in a folksy metaphoric way that didn't make much sense. "Just because your cat has kittens in the oven, doesn't make them biscuits."  Perot also had the haggard look of a nerd who hadn't gotten enough sleep.
Trump on the other hand brings that celebrated energy of his to the game, making blunt and non-complicated statements.  He has no specifics except "wall building" and "winning against China" he is basically asking his followers to vote for him because they "know" he will do what is necessary.  Actually all we know about Donald Trump are images created by an expensive PR firm.  He has no record to stand on, no qualifications except being rich with more ego than ability.  
It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months but don't expect Donald Trump to go away quietly. Popularity and fame is a drug worse than heroin. Once you have had the taste of  a high dose you will do anything to get more.
As you were,


P. Grecian said...

Insightful, Jay...and some stuff I think we hadn't thought about. The Goppers, of course, are handling him with kid gloves because they're afraid he'd start a third party, which would siphon votes mostly from their side of the aisle.
He is, at least, fascinating to watch, eh? He doesn't make me angry so much as make me laugh. Adds spice to the Gopper posse of candidates.

Kathy Brodrick said...

Preach Brother Jay!!!!
Trump is such a disgusting blow-hard, mysoginist racist...
Among other things.
That the GOP like him so much shows just how much they hate us all.


Deborah Geffner Holcomb said...

I think the truest thing you said is, "The problem is that some members of the electorate confuse celebrity for leadership." We have a different standard for celebrities (so far) than we do for politicians. We love it when celebrities are outrageous. It's come to seem like outrageousness is the only way to be "authentic," that much desired and admired state of being. Yes, he's outrageous, but that's good, right? We've wanted our leaders to be less packaged and cautious for a while now. So we're confused. We're mistaking this childish, tantrumy, bloviating narcissist for the "tell it like it is" leader we all want.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is quietly making sense. Unfortunately, he never had a reality show.