Yes, Donald Trump can come off like a bad joke who takes advantage of people mistaking his blustering political performance art for serious policy statements. On that count Bobbie Jindal’s histrionics over Trump being a “madman”1 weren’t that far from the truth. Trump’s behavior also reveals the scariest thing about the man: we, the people. He wouldn’t keep acting out if we weren’t buying the things he says.
Trump uses our anger and fear. Is that what we want?
The last two elections were about hope and change. This time it’s anger. Fear. Desperation. These are emotions that are easy to manipulate, though that’s not always a good thing. When the people are angry or scared there is nothing like an arrogant, loudmouthed, bombastic performer to grab their attention. People don’t want to hear about the deficit nearly as much as they want to watch mud splat against the pinstripes of someone they despise. That means there doesn’t have to be a lot of substance behind Trump’s bluster as long as the attacks keep coming.
Does it make a difference?
Scariest thing about Trump is why he is ahead.
Those already holding elected office and pointing fingers are doing a little performance art of their own. They have been staging a different circus with their opposition party, an insider’s game with safe, predictable outcomes that make it a comfortable way to spend years on Capitol Hill. It works for both sides, but it is an easy thing to attack when speaking to people tired of hearing excuses.
Trump isn’t stupid. He knows he can’t fix the problems he blames others for. In all likelihood none of the other GOP candidates can, either. If they could, we wouldn’t be debating the same issues year after year with no resolution in sight.
You don’t have to be a politician to win an election. Nearly eight years of suffering the consummate Democrat proves a career in politics won’t make you a leader if you don’t have it in you. Trump’s qualifications have come under fire, but not because he doesn’t know how to take charge or can’t read up on foreign policy. It’s because he’s not a politician. The loudest voices against him come from insiders shocked at being bested by someone who has never worked in government, behaves like a bull in a china shop, and hasn’t shown any interest in following the rules or playing the game.
That’s a serious miscalculation on Trump’s part. He is ahead because the people like what they are hearing, but we aren’t hearing very much.
Trump’s best friends? Democrats.
When it comes to self-promotion, immigration has been Trump’s ace in the hole. He had a receptive audience handed to him. A Pew Research Center poll showed Republicans are none too happy with their party’s handling of the issue2 (read the survey results on the Pew Research Center site). That comes before we even touch on Barack Obama’s determination to fan the flames and make the problem worse.
Ted Cruz gave his opponent due credit during Wednesday night’s debate for forcing the media to talk about immigration. What is so galvanizing about the problem is that it touches on every issue candidates have to address: taxes, health care, education, government spending, law enforcement, entitlements, and fraud. Not only does it cover a multitude of hot buttons, those endorsing illegal immigration are so obsessed with Trump’s remarks that if he never says another word about it his message will still get out.
Those complicit in unknowingly spreading the Trump doctrine include Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, who recently voiced his thoughts on hateful rhetoric.3 Predictably, the sanctuary city’s amnesty-loving congressman, Luis Gutierrez, also had his say:
Donald Trump announces his campaign saying Mexican immigrants are mostly murderers, drug-dealers, and rapists, and what is the response from the Republican Party.?
They don’t denounce him. They only denounce people when they go after war heroes who ran for President. I denounce Trump for that too.4
That’s not quite what Trump said. He held the door open for some illegals being good people, but all it takes is one sanctuary city shooting to throw that out the window.
There are plenty of voters who will listen to the anti-Trump voices and throw their support behind him because they are fed up with being backed into a corner for the benefit of everyone but themselves. The louder his detractors, the greater their support will grow.
Winning won’t deliver the goods.
The gray area is the same for every candidate. It has to do with honesty. Nowhere is this more apparent than after the election is over and backing away from promises begins in earnest. In Trump’s case the support of the people won’t be enough. Considering our federal lawmakers’ habit of ignoring what we want, how will he live up to his words when he has already alienated so many whose backing will be critical to getting things done?
That’s a decision the people will have to make for themselves. Is just being the scariest man on the stump enough?