In considering the remarkable Trump phenomenon, I watch and I wonder, trying to understand his massive appeal. He seems trumpeted by those outside our nation’s elites – academia, media, politics, wealth.
Those folks outside these exclusive national clubs may not have succeeded as they hoped they would. The American Dream didn’t happen to them or they didn’t have the resources to make it happen. They didn’t make it (for whatever reason) to the top universities to sail into teaching or law or medicine. They couldn’t compete in the world of journalism and publishing and Hollywood, perhaps because of appearance or opinion or luck. They didn’t run for office because of quiet temperament or lack of desire, or the inability to pivot, preach, or promise with fingers crossed. And lastly they didn’t have the financial backing and courage to go into business and take risks, compete for their market share, broker deals so that others would lose and they would win. In the end, they perhaps weren’t competitive, and were happy to allow others do the competing, fight the fight, and provide products at competitive prices.
What does this group who trumpets Mr. Trump do for a living? I haven’t studied the stats but my guess is that they are proudly working class, sometimes working at several jobs, counting on their spouse to do the same. They watch their children bullied in school and on sidewalks and graduating unable to read and not knowing why America is great. All they want is public safety, good schools, and protection from tyrants at home and abroad. Freedom of speech and worship are taken for granted. They work hard, pay their taxes, and wonder why the schools are on lockdown and they can’t own a gun to protect their families and their pastor is going to jail for preaching from the Bible.
They don’t have the time to study the issues. They aren’t schooled in the national debt and what it means for our future and our children’s future and even national defense. Many don’t understand that growing government means raising taxes or cutting programs. The nuances of numbers require a degree in accounting or economics or at least the time to study the current issues, none of which the working voter has. They are losing their faith in the media’s lockstep endorsements and explanations and they look to someone who says what they mean and mean what they say in words that make sense.
All the while we are seriously threatened by those who hate our freedom, outside our borders and within. We are not only threatened internationally but by homegrown terrorists in gun-free zones and by fellow citizens who would disallow people of faith to practice their beliefs. We are threatened by the dominant culture of self: selfishness, sloth, lust, envy, greed, gluttony, and arrogance, all vices that encourage self-pitying grievance and frivolous lawsuits crippling our courts. We are threatened by the strong who rob and kill the weak in dark alleys and bright abortion clinics.
Mr. Trump says, enough! And the disenfranchised hear him. They understand his message. And as I watch Mr. Trump in the debates what strikes me is his simplicity. A tad arrogant, to be sure, but clear and compelling.
I worked my way through college when college degrees meant something, and today have the rare opportunity, the time, to study issues and candidates, but I still feel incompetent to judge the complicated questions that will make or break our country. It makes sense that the Supreme Court shouldn’t be legislating new law, but rather interpreting the Constitution. And it makes sense that our three branches of government serve to check and balance one another so that we the people are protected from tyranny. After all, we fought a revolution about that once, as I recall from fifth-grade Social Studies. The First Amendment is still a good idea, or I wouldn’t be allowed to write this or worship as I choose, at least as of this writing.
What I don’t like about Mr. Trump is his apparent arrogance, but perhaps he hasn’t been coached as well as the others on the art of image. He changes his opinions on the issues, but he says he’s learning as he goes. He often speaks in hyperbole, but the media (conservatives and liberals singing together) treats his simplifications as lies. They seem to enjoy misunderstanding his statements even as they reap huge ratings from them which means, of course, huge advertising dollars. When does exaggeration misrepresent one’s position? When Mr. Trump, for example, said he would like to see worse torture than waterboarding I assumed he meant within the law, that he would work to see the law changed. Many presidents work to see the law changed, some work legally and some don’t. Somehow I trust Mr. Trump to work legally, not like others we all know.
Mr. Trump is unpolished. His words are unpolished like many voters. He is a straight-shooter if it is safe to use a shooting analogy. But he listens and he learns and in spite of it all I trust him.
I’m not sure who I’m voting for. I’m undecided, although I will vote for the Republican nominee in the General Election. By the time the primaries get to California there won’t be too many candidates left standing. I long ago studied the two parties, trusting principles over people, and decided that the greatest good for the greatest number was represented by the Republicans. The greatest danger remains clear and present in the history of the last century when Hitler, Stalin, and Mao slaughtered close to 100 million in their totalitarian regimes. Big government stifles freedom and smothers the poor. It curtails creativity and hampers hope. It rewards those who promote bigger government, a self-perpetuating enterprise.
I will vote for the candidate that will work to keep America safe, ensuring our freedom and our future and our children’s future. I will vote for the candidate that will protect my right to worship, to speak, and to defend myself and my family. I will vote for the candidate that understands the need for an educated electorate, beginning with fifth-grade History, Economics, and Civics.
And I will vote for the candidate that sees America as exceptional, a beacon to the world, so that we can welcome more legal immigrants into our national family. They will, to be sure, add their own time and talent and treasure to our unique land of opportunity. Let’s build that border wall so that our laws can be enforced, so that no-one cuts in line. This is America, a land of liberty and justice for all, not just for some.
I have to thank Mr. Trump, for his energy, enthusiasm, and simple rhetoric, albeit sometimes harsh to the ear, has captured the national attention. Voters are listening. Voters are voting. They are taking their place in our exceptional history.