There are a billion personal reactions to the Donald Trump candidacy on the Internet. As there should be. He is bombastic, divisive, polarizing, and above all, entertaining. But something occurred to me this morning that should have been clear a long time ago.
I don’t know why I didn’t see this before. It’s so simple.
He knows perfectly well that he won’t be able to fulfill any of his campaign promises. He is smart enough to know that his ideas are unworkable, at various stages unethical, and would never pass Congress, regardless of which party holds the majority.
He just wants to be elected President. And he knows the perfect formula for doing it.
Before devising his strategy, like a good businessman he took the pulse of the American people and figured out that the majority of us have no faith in the government at any level. The approval rating for POTUS, Congress, SCOTUS, State legislatures, etc., is at its lowest levels in 90 years. Once, he understood that, all he had to do was craft a campaign that aimed directly at the groups that felt most disenfranchised.
First, there is the group that fears America’s place on the world stage is slipping away. They fear that America will no longer be the world power it once was. They fear that the policies of the past few presidents have caused us to look weak to the rest of the world. And they are right.
So Trump devised his jingoistic “Make America Great” campaign. It sounds wonderful, but it’s impossible to fulfill. History teaches us that all empires have a life-cycle. The more financially affluent a country becomes, the faster they decay. This is ALWAYS true. The only way to make America great again is to allow us to financially decline until we get as hungry as the rest of the world.
Second, there is the group that never really let go of prejudices and bigotry, no matter how much political correctness hides the reality. People in the United States have been bigots since our country was founded. There are more non-bigots than ever before, but don’t kid yourself into thinking Archie Bunker is dead. There are millions of people who are tired of everyone saying how wonderful the American melting pot is. So when Trump makes semi-bigoted statements (he is usually careful to temper them a little), this group feels they finally have someone who believes the way they do.
Third, there are those who fear that immigrants are hurting them. This, of course, has no basis in reality. America was built on the backs of immigrants and so was every successful country in history. What makes a country strong is the ability to incorporate the most hungry individuals into the whole nation. A nation that welcomes competition and new ideas will grow and reach new heights. At the same time, that means the weak, the lazy and the entitled will fall back. Trump, by expounding how he is going to protect America’s borders, plays to that crowd.
Finally, there is the group that fears other countries will hurt us through terrorism and mayhem. Trump has thrown out a lot of silly ideas like registering all Muslims, detaining certain ethnic groups, building walls around countries, and outlawing certain religions. Can he do this? Probably not–and he knows it. But it sells well to that group.
These four groups make up the majority of both dominant parties. You might not know it, but Democrats have just as many bigots and fearful people as Republicans.
I stand by my prediction that Trump will easily win the election. But I also hold that everyone will hate him after one term because he will accomplish nothing of what he wants to do. Like most presidents, he will fail because he spent more energy seeing how he might be elected than seeing how he might make real change.
I finally get it.