As this is rapidly becoming the realistic choice in November (and no, your Green/Libertarian/Birthday or other parties are not realistic), there has been a lot of discussion about how Donald Trump became the Republican candidate. It seems, from what I see, to boil down, on the Republican side, to two arguments. One is that he is the candidate furthest outside the establishment, obviously true as he has never entered politics before now; and that he is a skilled con artist and has duped the electorate into supporting him. The latter seems to be the establishment view, which reinforces those who take to the first explanation.
On the left, the general argument seems to be that his supporters are stupid, ignorant, racist, assholes. Needless to say, this is neither correct nor helpful. But that is the left’s modus operandi of late.
Let me offer a different view. On that may give some insight into how intelligent, reasonable people can support a candidate that approaches the election like a bad reality tv show, and wasn’t wrong to do so.
First, look at the reason we support any candidate. Broadly, I see two reasons that are valid, and one that is terrifyingly common but invalid. The valid reasons are that the person has or appears to have the same values and beliefs I do, or that they are promising (and seem likely to actually do or attempt) to do something I want done. These are your positive, valid, reason to support any candidate. The invalid one is to support them because they are X party. And only support them for that reason. I am ignoring, intentionally, the idea of voting against someone as opposed to for someone.
So, in the reasons we support candidates, Trump hits both marks. He is, or appears to, have a set of values that people like, and is saying he will do things they want done. But, then, so were the other 17 Republican also-ran types a year ago. So why Trump?
I think the reasons are many, but to a large chunk of the population (and remember, he has been winning by insane margins) Trump is saying words they can hear as ‘things will be like they were when I remember them being good’. That ignores the actual time you are remembering, by the way. Trump is speaking to the majority of the nation that doesn’t instantly embrace whatever screaming micro-minority issue the hard left has decreed we all must make the kowtow before. Not that these voters would not, in time, support these things. The huge swath of the nation that the left denigrates as ‘Jesus Land’ or ‘flyover country’ is, in the end, very much in favor of personal freedom, and rights of self-expression. They do not, however, change their views quickly, as there is something to be said for letting things come gradually and be better understood. And there is a belief that any view rammed down someone’s throat is inherently questionable (else why the ramming?), and that if you need to do that for acceptance, maybe there is a flaw in the view. And Trump speaks to that.
Trump speaks to the people that feel left behind by the growing political overclass – the all too frequently expressed that the people should shut up and let their betters in the government tell them how to think, speak, do their jobs, etc.
Trump speaks to the idea that we can return to the Pax Americana years of the 1950s. We can’t, not in the same way, but it looks good on paper. Without the segregation, of course. And it is of course, there are and always will be racists that oppose it, but the vast majority of people support equality.
Trump also knows that the political system has devolved, at the national level, into a reality TV show.
Trump doesn’t back down. This is one of those things I like in theory, but think the practice might not work so well for anyone who isn’t Trump. In short, there is, I believe, a vast frustration with the politicians and others who, if presented with a negative response, immediately apologize and claim they were taken out of context. Seriously, stand for yourself, if you honestly had a moment of unthinking anger, and said something that you can demonstrate is wildly against who you are, then yes, apologize. But if you simply say something unpopular, stop apologizing. It makes you look pathetic. The phrase ‘courage of your convictions’ is there for a reason. For example, Trump’s famous ‘all Mexicans are rapists and thieves’ comment is actually
“What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc. This was evident just this week when, as an example, a young woman in San Francisco was viciously killed by a 5 time deported Mexican with a long criminal record, who was forced back into the United States because they didn’t want him in Mexico. This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States. In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government. The largest suppliers of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are Mexican cartels that arrange to have Mexican immigrants trying to cross the borders and smuggle in the drugs. The Border Patrol knows this. Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world. On the other hand, many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it. But these people are here legally, and are severely hurt by those coming in illegally. I am proud to say that I know many hard working Mexicans—many of them are working for and with me…and, just like our country, my organization is better for it.” -http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trumps-epic-statement-on-mexico-2015-7
Notice that he never says or even implies all immigrants are criminals. So no apology. This, as much as anything, has garnered him support – he says what he believes, and then refuses to back down.
Lastly, this seems to be an electoral cycle where the greatest qualification a candidate could claim was to be outside the establishment. Your establishment candidates on the Republican side were the first out. The people rejected them resoundingly. There is a lesson there, and the kingmakers in both parties should pay attention – you work for the people, you are not our masters. Why is a deranged muppet like Bernie Sanders still going? It isn’t just because in a just world Hillary Clinton would be under multiple federal indictments over mishandling classified information, it is because she is a purely establishment candidate, and if the Democrats had not instituted superdelegates in the wake of (and to prevent another) Jimmy Carter, there is a very real chance she would have dropped out by now.
Do I support Trump, no. Not at all. I disagree with his blustery personality. For those who know me, this is a no-brainer. I don’t like loud, blustery, people. But do I think that any supporters are ignorant, racist, hateful people? No, because unlike those inflicted with the far left’s mental instability, I know there is room for dissent and disagreement in a political system. And I embrace that – alloys are always stronger than the pure element. I just wish we had picked someone better.
But then again, maybe we picked who we deserve.