August 5th, 2015 // 3:52 pm @ Oliver DeMille
by Oliver DeMille
First of all, dig into the polls and it’s clear that a lot of the media reports about Trump are inaccurate. Specifically, he has significant support across the socio-economic spectrum, not just among white, low-income males. Second, the reports that a number of those polled say they’ll never vote for him aren’t as strong as first supposed, because this number is falling over time. And the people who initially called him a clown aren’t laughing anymore.
Still, most people in the media and the nation don’t believe he’ll be the next president. To be fair, this number is decreasing as well.
But whatever you think about Donald Trump, however much you like or dislike him as our potential president, it’s worth thinking about why he is striking a chord among a number of Republicans and Right-leaning independents.
The media says he is popular because many voters are angry at Washington, that they like his straight talk, that they are tired of politicians, that he attacks the political class that so many people now dislike. All of these observations are true, but they don’t quite get to the heart of the matter. They are all symptoms, not the root cause.
Yes, Trump is popular because he doesn’t sound like Washington politicians, because he criticizes Washington, because he talks about American greatness, because he warns of foreign enemies, and because he talks loudly about issues Washington hasn’t fixed. But there’s more to it.
Cause and Effect
There’s a prior reality that has Republicans and many independents upset, and the only way to understand the support for Trump is to clearly understand this prior concern. Perhaps it is summed up best by two former enemies of the United States:
“The United States brags about its political system,
but the President says one thing during the election, something
else when he takes office, something else at midterm
and something else when he leaves.”
“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war
or before an election.”
Many on the Right now support Trump precisely because they are angry at two groups of people:
- Recent Republican presidential candidates who promised to change things but failed to make it stick, particularly John McCain and Mitt Romney—and any who talk like or even seem to be following the same path, such as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, etc.
- Republican members of Congress who promised to change things but failed to do so.
Many such voters are fond of Trump because they are very upset with Republicans who they believed “lied” to get into office in 2010, 2012, and 2014 by promising to repeal Obamacare, reverse the trajectory of the national debt, and secure the Southern border, and then didn’t do any of these things. These members of Congress could have used their power of the purse to defund Obamacare, but the Republican leadership in the House and Senate blocked it.
Many on the Right believe that such defunding, even it required government shutdowns, would have worked if Republicans had just stuck to their guns.
They could have used their power of the purse to defund massive government spending on a number of projects (which is precisely what they promised to do in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections), but the Republican leadership in the House and Senate blocked this as well. When things got hard, the Republicans didn’t stand strong.
In the estimation of many voters, the Republicans lied. They promised to do specific things if elected, they were elected on the weight of these promises, they had the power to fulfill their promises by taking hard action, and then they didn’t do what they’d promised.
As a result, for a number of Republican and Right-leaning independent voters, the brand of “Republican Politicians” is drastically weakened. Moreover, it is the specific lack of committed and intense fight among Republicans in Congress and Republican presidential nominees that infuriates many voters.
Their take on it goes something like this: “McCain, Romney, Boehner, McConnell, and other leading Republicans tried to be popular with their peers in Washington, tried to sound moderate and reasonable to the national press, tried to look presidential instead of just focusing on results, and refused to take off their gloves and really fight for us—and as a result, they got trounced at every turn by Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. By extension, we all got it handed to us by Russia, China, Libya, ISIS and now Iran. That’s not what America is supposed to do.
“So, clearly, we need a different kind of leader, a non-politician, someone who is brash, intense, and a real fighter. The more he’s a true brawler who can push hard and win, and who won’t give up no matter what his opponents and the media say, the better. We don’t care about all the normal things we ask of our politicians. We’re in a battle, a big one, and we want to win. Let’s find someone who is a great fighter and give him the reins.
“We also need someone who will actually follow through once elected and do what he or she said during the campaign. Who will back it up with action. Someone who will actually repeal Obamacare, who will actually stand by Israel, who will actually secure the Southern border, who will end our glut of business-killing regulations and get our economy booming again, and who will truly, literally reverse the national debt and get the debt clock counting down. Nothing else will do.”
This is why Trump is popular. Say whatever else you want about him, but he clearly meets the first criterion: he is brash, intense, loud, outspoken, non-politically correct, and a bold fighter. Trump also seems poised to meet the second criterion as well: many voters think he’s a lot more likely to actually repeal Obamacare, secure the border, reverse the national debt, and reboot the economy than any of the career politicians in the race.
The Coming Decade
One thing is certain: Trump brings out people’s passion about politics. People seem to either love him or hate him; few are ambivalent. What this intense passion will bring about between now and election night in 2016 remains to be seen. It may expand, or it may dwindle.
But the widespread and growing frustration with electing officials who promise to repeal Obamacare and reverse our national debt–and then don’t effectively fight against every obstacle and get these things done, once and for all–isn’t going away anytime soon. If Bush, Walker, Christie or any other establishment Republican wins in 2016, or if the race goes to Clinton, Biden, or Warren, for example, this anti-status-quo fervor on the Right will only intensify in the years ahead.
Whether or not you like Donald Trump, the real news is that a rising number of voters are passionately demanding elected leaders who actually get the right things done. The niceties of “acceptable” public discourse and many of the traditions of politics (such as trying to “look presidential” or keep the “tone” presidential) are giving way to a stark drive for tangible results. It started with the Tea Parties, and now it is spreading to many other voters.
Make no mistake: this passion on the Right for real results is mounting, and it may very well become the defining trait of politics for decades to come.