Let me start by saying I know some very intelligent people, people I like and respect who are supporting Donald Trump for president. This article is not about them. This is about that segment of the general public who whether they care to admit it or not are supporting “the Donald” just because they know more about him and find him more entertaining than anyone else in the presidential field.
When asked recently by a friend what I personally think about Donald Trump I said, “I like watching him on TV and find what he says occasionally entertaining, but I don’t want him as my next president.” I admit there’s always a chance I can change my mind, but as I sit here today I am fairly certain I won’t. It’s my feeling that when there’s a vacuum left by the lack of any one candidate doing anything to excite the masses, the loudest and most eccentric candidate ultimately will get the most attention. Couple that with Trump’s no-nonsense and tough-talk approach and you have yourself the most talked about and at least today, the number one recipient of positive poll numbers in the entire presidential field.
Let’s be honest here. Presidential elections are not won the summer before the primaries have even started. By the time the Iowa caucuses take place in February the Trump phenomenon may be an amusing memory. Then again it’s not impossible that by the time the primaries start there will be little mystery left and Trump runs away from the field. Time will tell, but I tend to believe the final story is far from written.
We live in a society where the choice for president is not made on pure qualifications. Like him or love him, the most qualified individual to become president, at least based on positions held prior to running for the office was George Bush Sr. Having been Ambassador to China, Head of the CIA and Vice President for 8 years, it was hard to have a better resume when running for president. That by no means he was the best president, it doesn’t even mean he was a good one, it just means it’s the only time, at least in my lifetime, that someone with the strongest qualifications, at least on paper, won the general election.
So what wins presidential elections? Mainly popularity and familiarity. Already an appreciated television personality, Donald Trump is fun to watch. Even if you hate what he says, just as you hate to drive past a terrible car accident on the highway, you just can’t help but look. And look again and again. It may be awful, but it is also fascinating. If you can ignore the perceived demeaning of Mexicans and women, Trump is fascinating without the awful. Whether you like him or not.
So what does it say about American society that Donald Trump is all the rage? Well first let me say that I love America and its people as much as anyone. That being said, it doesn’t say anything good. Even the intelligent people I spoke of earlier who support Trump are doing so out of serious concern or anger over the current state of affairs in the country and the rest of the world. By no means am I saying they are wrong to have that concern and even anger, I’m merely stating the fact that their support for Trump is based in the negative as opposed to the positive. The remaining, and I believe the largest percentage of Trump support is based on familiarity and entertainment. They know the hair, the image of “the Donald”, and they enjoy hearing his straight-shooting tough talk. For many, whether they admit it or not, they don’t need to like or even understand what he is saying as long as they like how he is saying it.
What it also says is that for those looking for answers in the Republican pack, there are not many separating themselves from everyone else. It makes me think of the Bruce Springsteen song, “57 Channels and nothing on”. 17 candidates in the field and with the exception of Trump and Ben Carson no one is doing anything to distinguish themselves in the Republican field. In the Democratic field Hillary Clinton has been stuck having to talk a little too much about emails while being challenged by the very left-wing Bernie Sanders. While Sanders is having his moment in the sun and becoming a little more well-known than he was before the campaign started, Clinton is laying a little low and waiting it out. A smart move as Republicans beat each other up and distract the masses from the issues her opponents are trying to bring to front and center, Bernie Sanders has his 15 minutes of presidential candidate fame and Joe Biden keeps us hanging.
So with all this said do I believe Donald Trump is going to be the next president? Maybe. Do I think it’s the worst thing that could happen. To be very honest, despite the fact that I don’t want him to be, the answer is no, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. That is a status I give to the idea of a Rand Paul presidency, a possibility basically destroyed by Donald Trump’s candidacy. I actually believe that when you look throughout history at how struggling nations picked their leaders in tough times, if America chooses Trump it’s not THAT bad compared to what other nations throughout history have done with angry or concerned votes. After all we’re not looking at a fascist looking to wipe out an entire segment of society, just someone feeding into societies fears and discontent. Not a good thing, but it could be worse.
For the record, I still believe that the general election will be Jeb Bush against Hillary Clinton even knowing that Trump against Biden is not yet out of the question. Bottom line is it’s too soon to know. Which goes back to what I said earlier. Presidential elections are not won the summer before the primaries even start. Right now all we know for sure is that we are watching the Donald Trump show. Something that may entertain people now but doesn’t elect a president.
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