Going into the 2016 presidential campaign, many of us in political science thought we knew who would be the republican nominee. The conservative to moderate Gov. Jeb Bush would ultimately get the nomination over candidates like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. This process has worked in an orderly fashion since 1976.
Donald Trump is challenging this process.
So what has made Donald Trump so popular? I suspect “The Donald” is running his campaign on the anger and discontentment of the American people.
Over the past 40 years, hard working Americans have seen their incomes stagnate or decline. Many of the well-paying jobs in manufacturing have been replaced by low wage service jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonalds. So while the government trumpets lower unemployment, many Americans feel they are not better off than before the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
At the same time, the Republican Party is much more divided than it has been in recent memory.
The news is littered with squabbles between the establishment members of Congress and Tea party members. The constant bickering has led to a Republican party that cannot effectively govern, and the gridlocked government further angers voters. Angry voters plus a fractured party that appears inept makes fertile ground for a “politics of rage” candidate like Donald Trump.
The politics of rage is not a new precedent in American politics. That was firmly set in 1968 by the presidential campaign of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
Like Wallace, Trump taps into the anger and discontent of the American people to make himself a viable candidate for the republican nomination. Instead of talking about ideology, Trump just spits out his view.
Trump blares out his views on immigration and trade with little to no tact. Trump frequently calls leaders in Washington “stupid” such as during a speech about trade policy. His simple and blunt language is welcome relief from the circular political speak that most politicians practice. This makes Trump seem more like one of the people.
Trump is a loose cannon for the Republican Party and a liability. His bombast alienates many voting blocs the party needs to recapture the White House. Ideally for the republicans, the Trump bubble will burst and he will exit the race after poor showings in early primary states.
It would be a nightmare for the Republican Party for Trump to last with significant support into March. If the party appears to have forced out Trump, he could rally his base into a third-party run. The Republicans need to delicately handle Trump or he could leave the party mortally wounded in 2016.
Candidate Trump, whether he is the Republican nominee or a third-party candidate, will not have his name put up on Pennsylvania Avenue. His comment on Mexico sending over rapists to America alienated many in the Hispanic community, and his treatment of Megyn Kelly hurt him with women.
Although the bombast of the Donald may stir up rallies in conservative circles, it does not appeal to the wider electorate. A republican Trump would likely lead to a republican defeat on the Goldwater 1964 scale. A third-party Donald would take votes from the Republican Party and lead to a democratic victory like in 1992. Donald Trump is a potent and bullish candidate for the GOP, but will ultimately implode and likely bring the GOP with him either because of his tarnishing of the GOP brand or a third-party run.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Hunter Balczo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently I stumbled upon an interesting online quiz. The quiz taker would read a quote and then guess whether the esteemed speaker was Republican Presidential front runner Donald Trump, or bombastic anchorman Ron Burgundy. Ron Burgundy is a fictional character played by the effervescent Will Ferrell. Mr. Trump is the formidable real life “outsider,” played by his hair, who can get away with making grandiose statements which would be career-ending political suicide for mere mortals.
The very existence of this quiz sparked some interesting thoughts. If recent polls are accurate, and sentiment stays its course, some suggest The Donald has a good shot at being our next Commander in Chief. Is he really a viable candidate?
In my mind, a viable candidate for any public office can handle criticism. Thus far, Trump has had a mixed bag of responses to the average political repartee. He has threatened a third-party run if the establishment isn’t “nice” to him and suggested Fox News anchor and debate moderator Meghan Kelly apologize to him for asking for clarification about disparaging comments he has made about women in the past, once again citing that she wasn’t “nice.”
Don’t worry Don, I’m sure you and Uncle Putin can just hug it out.
Trump has gotten brownie points from many of his supporters for speaking off the cuff with his own brand of bravado rather than responding with the “politically correct.” More power to him, I dislike the politically correct, but rules and norms exist for time tested reasons.
There is a buzzer at debates so candidates have to succinctly synthesize their ideas and deliver a compelling message. Good prep and polished diplomacy aren’t signs of a robotic political elite; they are the hallmarks of serious statesmen and stateswomen.
Donald wants to “Make America Great Again,” and to do so, he needs to command respect from allies like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as international pariahs like President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe. That’s a pretty tall order for a public figure whose well documented comments reinforce racial stereotypes and gender bias and have offended so many.
While I’m on the topic of race, let me field a name Hunter may mention this week as well: George Wallace. Mr. Wallace was the Governor of Alabama before he ran third-party against his fellow Democrat Hubert Humphrey and a then scandal-free Richard Nixon.
Like The Donald, spoiler George received strong popular support and was horribly frightening to the establishment. Wallace, whose infamous soundbite is “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever,” earned 13 percent of the popular vote and handed the election to Nixon.
By theoretical comparison, Trump is currently polling around 25 in a three-way race, a race either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Democrat/Socialist Bernie Sanders easily wins. No wonder some conspiracy theorists are suggesting The Donald is actually a double agent in Hillary’s 2016 presidential bid.
On the upside, The Donald’s influence in this election cycle is fueling honest expansive dialogue on issues ranging from immigration to economic recovery. His Republican opponents are being forced to clearly define themselves in contrasting terms that are compelling and personal.
The party of Lincoln and Reagan should pause thoughtfully, however, before rallying around anyone who suggests giant walls and mass deportation as pragmatic immigration policy.
Listen to the reactions of the crowd at the first Republican debate after each time Trump speaks. Ever so slowly, the shine wears off. Prejudice and incessant diatribe may be moneymakers for Ron Burgundy, but if this feature is a comedy, no one is laughing. Stay classy, America.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Jacob Schlosser at email@example.com.