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Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Samantha Strayer examines The Trump Phenomenon

What if he's really what he says he is?
Consider Occam’s Razor: The simplest explanation is most likely to be true. So what if Trump was just a guy — with tremendous talent, experience, and instincts — who believes in this country so much that he actually wants to do something about its precipitous decline? Trump saw Republicans lose the last two presidential elections and, with characteristic impatience, simply decided to do something about it.
One of the more interesting observations is how Trump rattles the proverbial cages of certain politicians, consultants, and members of the media. Yes, such people often sneer and sometimes fume but mostly they seem mystified, as if staring at Cerberus — the mythical dog from hell — and each of its three heads is speaking a different language. Whether the confusion is real or fake, it demands a response. Like his candidacy and message, Trump is not that complicated to understand.

The Trump Appeal
This odd disconnect between Trump and his more vocal critics piqued my curiosity. Are Republicans so unaccustomed to having a real fighter in their party that they’d rather stick with Candidate Doormat: squishy, polite, and useless? Critics tut-tut Trump’s tone and braggadocio (so mean!). They dismiss his accomplishments (pah, private sector!) and sneer at the way he talks (no gravitas!). He lives, breathes, and speaks like a successful, New York entrepreneur. His is the language of business, not politics, but the two parallel each other in many ways.

Supporters believe his policy proposals will foster the freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution. Trump does instinctively understand that the government’s first and most important job is to protect its people. (Maybe it was the four years at military school that influenced his thinking.) It might not be pretty, but they trust he will be effective.

Trump’s also nailed the presidential hat-trick of the modern age: common sense, spiritedness, and genius self-promotion. Not since Reagan have we seen a politician speak so powerfully to the heart and mind of the nation, and this is what scares the hell out of his more strident opponents.

Trump is often accused being mean to critics.

After suffering years of near-silence from George W. Bush’s administration in the face of ceaseless attacks against his person and presidency, it is absolutely refreshing to see a Republican respond fiercely to his critics. Trump defies our inane apology culture by refusing to gratify — at least in this case — the cheaper elements of political discourse. (This is also a big contributor to TDS.)

Let’s briefly clarify something, since there’s a misconception that because Trump attacks the “weak” he has fascist inclinations. The targets of Trump’s salvos have been men and women with access to and influence over large audiences.

This is not to excuse some of the things he has said or done, but it’s important to highlight how the meaning of “weak” has become muddled. Calling Republicans “fascist” is certainly not new, as it’s the Left’s rhetorical flamethrower of choice. (See this Slate article as an example.) This definitional fuzziness, therefore, affects the larger framework for how the topic of fascism is presented and ultimately misunderstood.

So compare Trump with Obama and how his administration attacked Joe the Plumber after the infamous “spread the wealth” video that went viral. Or how Obama used the power of the Internal Revenue Service to suppress Tea Party and other right-leaning groups. In both cases, the targets were private citizens, “weak” in terms of their financial resources, influence, and access to power.

Here’s Trump’s view: “The way I see it, critics get to say what they want to about my work, so why shouldn’t I be able to say what I want to about theirs?” 

The bottom line:
This makes him a most intriguing presidential candidate — he’s never held political office, yet he has the most experience and is perhaps the best qualified to navigate the thorny dilemmas of our day: renegade bureaucratic agencies, national security, and the economy.


Trump is clinically insane.
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