When Trump threw his toupee into the ring back in June, I dismissed him, like most Americans did, as a pretender grandstanding to satisfy his ego. The latest polls have him more than ten points ahead of the closest Republican contender, and giving Hillary Clinton a serious run for her money in the national general election. How is this possible?
Trump the “straight shooter”
Trump seems to have no filter, and this resonates with Americans sick of politicians speaking from both sides of their mouths. Folks are willing to overlook his faux pas and blunt insults because it appears to be honest, and that’s preferable to business as usual from the beltway. I totally get being disgusted with lying, cheating politicians.
What I don’t understand is how Trump supporters can’t see his bullshit for what it is. He is one of the greatest salesmen in the world, and perhaps that’s why when he makes things up, people swallow the hook. He’s lied about his own draft record, claiming he had a high draft number, when actually he had multiple student deferments, and recently insulted John McCain for being a POW. He lied about his net worth, claiming that it exceeded TEN BILLION DOLLARS (caps from The Donald) when his net worth is actually 2.9 billion, according to a recent Bloomberg investigation.
He has called global warming a hoax, insulted Mexican immigrants, though he is sure that “some of them are good people,” and laughed off sexual assaults within the U.S. military. He claims that he invented his campaign slogan, when he adopted Regan’s.
Trump the tough guy
Trump presents himself as a tough guy. He’s going to take America back from China. He’s going to stand up to Putin, and challenge him to a knife fight in front of the White House, one shirtless ego against another. He’s going to go to war with Iran, because, well, Iran. He will put boots on the ground to stop ISIS, and the tide of radical Islam will flee before his mighty shadow.
He says these things, and people believe him because he seems to believe it himself, transmuting his own cognitive dissonance to the rest of a nation hungry to believe.
And that is deadly, end-of-the-world stuff. Saying a thing is true doesn’t make it so. We need a president who is level-headed and has a firm grasp upon geopolitics. Someone who speaks softly, and carries a big stick. Trump is the opposite. He shouts, rather than speaks, drowning out anyone who dares to contradict him.
Smashing the field
He has gutted his fellow Republican contenders, relishing in the insults and meanness, pandering to the cameras. The other politicians don’t seem to know how to fight Trump, and they’re getting kicked in the head while he gloats over them like the puffed up school yard bully that he is. The scary thing is that people like this.
Anyone who consistently refers to themselves in the third person is unfit to lead a nation.
Muddy and Vague
His platform on a wide range of important issues, from immigration to the economy is vague. He makes great claims without the means to back them up, which is typical of politicians, but particularly ironic coming from a man running as an anti-politician.
The 2016 election
Don’t underestimate Trump. He might win. What seems more likely, though, is that he will deliver the election to Hillary. That’s probably why Bill Clinton called the Donald on the phone, encouraging him to run.
Trump’s negative ratings among voters remain high. He’s not polling well among women, and has all but lost the crucial Latino vote. In the vital swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, he trails both Clinton in a match up. Since 1960, the road to the Oval Office goes through these states.
Republicans have good reason to worry. So does the rest of the world.