It is really curious why so many Americans, and political pundits, put so much value into polls and voter surveys. It is understandable that sitting politicians like to get a feel of the will of the electorate, and more to the point their own constituents, but being confident about a candidate solely on the basis of what this poll or that survey reveals is, frankly, foolish, particularly during a presidential primary. Democrats and many on the left are feeling fairly good about the Democrats chances going into the general election proper based on the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump as the GOP standard bearer. However, as Robert Reich noted a couple of weeks ago, “it would be politically stupid to dismiss Donald Trump’s chances against Hillary [Clinton].”
Now, Professor Reich’s screed is not in any way discounting Hillary Clinton’s ability to win; quite the contrary. In fact, Mr. Reich said that as far as delivering “carefully crafted speeches and policy proposals calculated to appeal to particular constituencies, Mrs. Clinton’s proposals and speeches are almost flawless.”
Where Reich sees an opportunity for Democrats to be “politically stupid” is underestimating Donald Trump’s appeal to a fair segment of the population even though he may offend their sensibilities on myriad issues. Reich also noted that despite unfavorable reports about the way Trump regards women, immigrants, Muslims, and his propensity to lie, as one of his supporters said regarding Trump, “He may be a jerk, but he’s our jerk.”
When any American claims Trump is “theirs,” they mean they like his portrayal as an “authoritarian bully – a strongman who will kick ass.” This portrayal fits many Americans’ ideal of a real American “anti-politician” who is tough and confrontational enough to take on the powers that be in Washington and dominate the leaders of the rest of the world.
Of course anyone with a pulse comprehends that Donald Trump epitomizes the ‘powers that be’ who are responsible for an increasing number of Americans’ plight And, because they are not getting filthy rich like their hero they believe the only way to affect change is through Trump’s hostility borne of suspicion, of every and anything they are either afraid of or ignorant about.
Reich shared some comments from Trump supporters he heard as he traversed the nation, and it boils down to what the Professor said is “the new era of anti-politics.” It is worth noting that for the past four years conservative voters have complained bitterly that their representatives in Congress have abandoned them because they have been unable to transform America into some kind of idealized white Christian nation they believe is their birthright and America’s destiny; exactly what Donald Trump promises only he will deliver with an iron-fist.
Some of the stories Reich shared was, for example, an Hispanic woman from Texas said she and the majority of her friends support the racist Trump because he wants to keep ‘the Mexicans’ out of America. Apparently, the Hispanic lady believes more Mexicans in America make it harder for those already here. But she can’t comprehend that when Trump and his supporters says they want ‘the Mexicans’ out of America, they mean Mexicans like her, so she is supporting him all the way.
Another story was about a union member from Pittsburgh who supports Trump because he will “be tough on American companies shipping jobs abroad.” This is beyond belief and informs just how politically stupid many Americans really are. For dog’s sake, it is the super-rich like Trump and Republicans that are responsible for giving companies tax breaks to outsource Americans’ jobs. But Trump talks like a badass; apparently that’s enough to fool a union member that Trump claims is a major source of America’s problem in that his wages are just too high to compete with and defeat China.
Where Mr. Reich really gets it right is explaining that Donald Trump’s appeal to a certain segment of America is his ability to convince morons that only someone with a giant ego, money to burn, and the audacity of a “real American” can “make America great again.” It is precisely the image Trump portrays and his supporters love him because they say he is authentic, unscripted, and unfiltered; what is considered a real American in conservative circles.
That certain segment is also not interested in a candidate that carefully explains or even has any agenda or policy proposals; they want someone who is outrageous, politically incorrect, provocative, and offensive to everyone. As one mid-level Salt Lake City executive told Reich, Trump “is the real thing. He says what he believes, and you know where he stands.” Apparently the executive is unaware that Donald Trump’s propensity to lie rivals his ability to offend everyone.
One doesn’t want to believe for a minute that there are a majority of Americans who think that just because Trump says what he believes means they know where he stands. Despite what Trump or his adherents claim, he is as establishment a conservative as any Republican and is not “anti-politics.” Remember, Donald Trump is a scam artist and a television show celebrity and has successfully dialed in to what the base wants him to be; a loudmouthed bully who claims he, as a real American badass, can deliver what establishment Republicans have failed to give the base; a white Christian nation with a dictator at the helm.
It is unlikely that Democrats are unaware of Trump’s appeal to the GOP base, but it is unclear if they understand that what is offensive to decent Americans is precisely what Trump is employing to garner support among more than just the Republican base. For decent human beings at home and abroad the idea that any American supports a madman like Donald Trump’s candidacy is a damning indictment on the sad state of American society.
For Democrats, Trump’s candidacy is a prime opportunity to shift the balance of power away from the hate-mongering Republican party but only if they heed Professor Robert Reich’s sage advice. Resist being politically stupid by dismissing Donald Trump’s chance at being elected president because what may seem offensive and a death knell for Republicans is exactly what no small number of Americans want much more of and they want it from a loudmouth, racist bully like Donald Trump.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.