By JUSTIN HANSON (@HunterHanson1)
Photo credit goes to the Boston Herald.
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency on June 16, 2015, I rolled my eyes and sighed. I mean, the man was most famous for rash remarks and being a certified jerk on his own TV show. He had never held office, had switched back and forth between parties and -- as far as I could tell -- didn’t have the respect of hardly anyone in Washington.
And somehow, that has played to his favor. Here we are in May of 2016, 10 and a half months later, with Trump having gone from a joke of a candidate in many peoples’ minds to the Republican frontrunner.
And now with the recent news of Ted Cruz and John Kasich’s decisions to drop out of the race, Donald Trump is essentially guaranteed the nomination. But how did we get here?
In order to understand how Donald Trump took the Republican Party hostage from its own leaders, we need to understand the political climate in the United States and who exactly Trump’s support block is.
The GOP has been crumbling since the defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. President Obama looked like a vulnerable candidate at the time, and Republican leaders were hopeful they could defeat him.
When Romney failed to do so, political commentators everywhere were calling the Republican Party dead in the water unless it reinvented itself. The common perception of the party was a bunch of rich, old, white men in stuffy rooms smoking cigars, and in a country that is more diverse now than ever, that was not going to cut it.
"The common perception of the party was a bunch of rich, old, white men in stuffy rooms smoking cigars."
A typical Republican leader. Photo credit goes to TKCS-Collins.
The party was going to have to find a way to bring in minorities, youths and women into the Republican base of support in order to stay competitive.
So how is Donald Trump, who has incredibly low favorability among minorities and women, dominating the party? Trump has managed to bring in a massive number of new voters into the nominating process by taking advantage of the weakness of the “Republican establishment” and controlling the attention (and votes) of Americans who feel discontent or angry at the government and even view the entire political system as biased against them.
Many of those voting for him are people who traditionally wouldn’t vote and are disengaged in the political process. Essentially, he has taken the anger of a nation and channeled it into a formidable political force. Quite frankly, people are pissed at the government and don’t perceive it as being “on their side,” so they are looking for anyone who isn’t part of that group, anyone who isn’t a “Washington insider.”
Amazingly, the very same reasons for why I laughed at the idea of his winning the nomination are now the reasons he is on the verge of winning it. The fact that he has never held office has made him electable in the eyes of the multitudes that, right or wrong, do not trust anyone who they view as being part of the political machine or a friend of Wall Street.
Trump has positioned himself as the candidate who will represent the everyday people of America, not the super-rich. Again, it defies basic logic, since he himself is not remotely an everyday American and is indeed the exact kind of elite person that the average American feels is being over-represented by the powers in Washington.
So how has a man of his wealth convinced the nation he is on their side? Well, basically by hurling insults at anyone he can think of who is associated with politics: Republicans, Democrats, governors, soft-spoken neurosurgeons and reporters.
Trump has run his campaign with an extremely negative rhetoric toward the government. He has frequently referred the nomination process as rigged, viciously attacked opposing candidates and encouraged distrust of Washington and violence against protestors at his rallies.
By engaging in an angry and aggressive rhetoric, he has been able to become the voice of the frustration and fears of the masses. The more outrageous his comments about Mexicans or Muslims, the more support he picks up. The more he argues that the Republicans are rigging the process against him, the more support he picks up.
Honestly he sort of reminds me of the leader of an angry mob. In fact, if Cruz and Kasich had been able to block Trump from getting to 1,237 delegates and made it a contested convention, and Trump had lost, there would have been an angry mob at the Republican National Convention. It could have looked a lot like this:
Photo credit goes to neatorama.com.
Essentially, Donald Trump has taken the Republican Party away from its weakened and much maligned establishment leaders by attracting a mass of voters who are frustrated with Washington and afraid of/angry with the same groups of people that Trump loudly denounces.
Whether this was a calculated and intentional play by a media master or a convenient situation that a loud, orange man fell into remains to be seen.