Donald Trump: Macho Man of 2016

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Donald Trump’s fans long for an uncomplicated alpha male to lead them.

Whether he is fielding questions from the press or talking to voters, Donald Trump is consistently comfortable in his own florid skin and flamboyant hair. TRENTON — On Monday evening, NJ Advance Media got the chance to sit in on a Donald Trump focus group in Alexandria, Va, led by top Republican pollster Frank Luntz.It’s become fashionable on the left to sneer at the very sound of Donald Trump’s name; Bernie Sanders more or less captured the mood when he dismissed Trump as “an embarrassment” in a recent interview. To the amazement of veteran journalists, political operatives and the other Republican candidates, that is making him a very formidable contender for the GOP presidential nomination. Twenty-nine current and former Trump supporters gathered — 17 women, 12 men — mostly college-educated and Republican but a few Democrats and independents sprinkled in as well, to explain what they most love about The Donald.

Afterward, one of the two brothers told the police, “Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported.” Trump’s response? “I think that would be a shame,” he said, adding, “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. Distinct from his competitors who showed up at the Iowa State Fair studiously dressed down in blue jeans and ready to feign enthusiasm for any deep-fried delight that was thrust in their faces, Trump landed in his personal helicopter wearing his standard navy blue sport coat and dress shirt. While immigration lit the fuse on the explosive Trump candidacy, if there is a single issue that electrifies Trump supporters, it’s the belief that Obamacare is a catastrophic mess that must be repealed and replaced.

Donald Trump jets down to Mobile, Alabama — the very heart of Nowhere, America, as far as the media/political establishment is concerned — on a slow, hot Friday night. He has pulled back the curtain.” As pundits search for the source of Trump’s resilient appeal, reformers say they’ve long known the answer: the constant emphasis on how his staggering wealth immunizes him from insider influence.

In a political world where candidates are stage-managed to project a poll-tested image of what voters are supposed to want, Trump, the reality TV star, is simply himself — a blunt, confident rich guy — and that comes across as strangely authentic. Eighteen of the 29 (62 percent) said that Trump’s desire to restore balance between the U.S. and its trading partners was the main reason they back him. His politics depend on the strategic manipulation of what America’s Founding Fathers called “the passions”— emotions that, when stoked, cause us to literally lose our minds. Trump gets up, starts talking, leaps from one digression to another, abandons trains of thought before they have arrived at the station and eventually makes a few boasts about being a tough negotiator and sticking it to the Chinese and Mexicans.

A month later, he told the Wall Street Journal, “When you give [contributions], they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” And primary voters seem spellbound. “The guys who want to give me a million—I said, forget it. Trump employs none of the rhetorical tricks common to other candidates whose speechwriters pile on the inspiring phrases and patriotic imagery until a crowd is predictably brought to its feet.

Trump has described Mexican immigrants as rapists, called Martin O’Malley a “little, weak, pathetic baby,” and said that Fox anchor Megyn Kelly must have had “blood coming out of her wherever” when she questioned him during the first GOP debate. So The Donald went down to ‘Bama, jammed tens of thousands of supporters into an outdoor stadium and put on a political hoedown the likes of which The Charlie Daniels Band could be proud. “Donald Trump Fails to Fill Alabama Stadium,” trumpeted The New York Times, the addled, graying den mother of the political press corps. His statements are completely consistent with his approach to both his business and entertainment careers, which was to connect with people’s guts at the expense of their reason. And then, as if attempting to insult not only Donald Trump, but also all of his followers, added: “But Fans’ Zeal Is Undiminished.” The paper literally cannot conceal its contempt for Donald Trump and all the many Americans enthralled by his boisterous, energetic and hard-punching campaign.

Totally.” The drubbing has only continued, and many share the sentiment that Trump has become an educator, if accidentally, on campaign finance. “In the course of explaining his many political contributions, he’s made the same points the reformers have made: that this is a pay-to-play system, that people put their money in and expect to get results,” said Trevor Potter, founding president of the Campaign Legal Center and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission during the Clinton administration. Luntz found that the Trump voters are disgusted with both political parties, disillusioned with the Republican-controlled Congress and convinced that, as a world power, the United States has shrunk to the level of Tahiti.

Because enforcing current immigration laws that have been passed by Congress and signed into law by presidents is, um, well, just like supporting segregation. Yet like a roulette ball landing on their number, reformers can’t help but seize on how Trump’s irreverent approach to politics has coincidentally highlighted one small sliver of reality: theirs. “It always helps to have celebrities and reality TV stars talking about an issue.-Mexican border and his willingness to deport any unauthorized immigrant convicted of a crime is less of a motivating factor for Trump backers than the above issues, but it’s still a big one, according to the Alexandria panel.

People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about the “anger”and “frustration”of Trump’s supporters. Rappaport emphasized his aversion to Trump’s actual politics before acknowledging, “In a way, I’m glad he’s raised these issues and spoken on them.

And the truth is that he is emblematic of the problem itself.” So enamored are some reformers with Trump’s truth-telling invective that Lessig, who announced this month that he is considering a run for president to highlight the issue, told POLITICO Magazine he would not rule out a third party run with Trump should the opportunity arise. (A spokesperson for Trump could not be reached for comment.) “I’ll make a promise,” Lessig later added. “If Trump said he was going to do one thing and fix this corrupted system, then go back to his life as an entertainment figure, I absolutely would link up with Donald Trump.” Small wonder: Trump’s manifold quips on money and politics now resemble something like a cross between Sorkinesque soliloquies from The West Wing and the ring-strutting trash talk of a professional wrestler. “The lobbyists will come and see me. Oh, whatever! “Wallace carried five Southern states, and Trump, who is leading early national polls in the race for the Republican nomination, touted his leads in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida and Texas.” So if you are a politician who gets Southern votes and then your campaign touts this support, you are racist?

Bailey, an emeritus professor of clinical psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, approvingly classified Trump as the type of “strong warrior male” the human species has always depended upon. “Donald Trump is the prototypical, archetypal and testosterone-driven alpha male who rules by the sheer force of his personality, imposing physique, quick wit, mastery of repartee and almost hypnotic control over his gathering masses of adoring followers,” Bailey said. The “hypnotic control” element is an overreach, but it does appear that Trump’s alpha male persona is what makes him appealing to those voters who believe politically correct, feminized wimps are selling out America to Vladimir Putin, the conniving Chinese, the invading Mexicans and the fanatical Muslims. It’s hilarious to watch oil interests attack the wind industry and ethanol for its tax breaks. in case you weren’t paying attention, the oil and gas industry has its own massive tax breaks.

One could nitpick and point out that Trump’s policy pronouncements are no more astute than the simplistic rants one could hear from any belligerent drunk on a barstool, but that does not matter in the slightest to Trump’s fans (many of whom probably are belligerent drunks on barstools). Where was this skepticism about crowd sizes in 2008 when reporters could not shovel fast enough the crowd estimates tossed around by the Obama campaign? “Bernie Sanders ‘Stunned’ By Large Crowds Showing Up For Him,” blasted one headline. It’s a violent metaphor, but the ancient diagram has proven stable, continuing today in modern brain science, and even the Pixar movie Inside Out, which tracks the teenage protagonist’s struggle to understand and control her inner impulses. And that’s a broken system.” “I was listening to the debate, and I’m saying—Trump is giving our message!” chuckled the left-leaning pollster Stan Greenberg. “Trump is essentially giving a big public education about how money corrupts the process.” For one, Trump may have unlocked a riddle that has vexed reformers for years: how to stir up sex appeal around an issue about as titillating as watching paint peel on the side of a Wisconsin barn.

Some news outlets are so desperate to pump up Sanders’ crowd sizes that they actually took to combining multiple events over multiple days across multiple states and added them all together. Analysts have noted—even before he entered the race—that Trump’s bombastic insistence that he can’t be purchased amounts to political heroin for the GOP’s demographic bread and butter: white, typically working-class voters without a college degree. In some sense, the appeal behind reform is hardly a Balkanized one, with overwhelming majorities polled in both parties rejecting the Citizens United decision. As a boy studying with his tutor Donald Robertson, Madison first learned the idea that “our passions are like Torrents which may be diverted, but not obstructed.” In college, Madison was taught by the great Scottish cleric John Witherspoon that passions originated in an object of intense desire. But in Trump’s case, Greenberg notes that few issues ignite the raw fury of his voters quite like the trenchant belief that Washington politics is accountable to those who wield checks rather than those who cast votes. “Trump has correctly read Greenberg’s polls, or someone else’s polls,” said Potter. “A big piece of that is the money-in-politics problem.

And he’s using it to attack the system for his own electoral advantage.” “That explains why there’s so much amazing support for Trump,” added Lessig. “Americans are willing to put up with his outrageous views because they look at this guy and say, Holy crap. Ideology that screws the little guy, that creates a vast gulf between the rich and the poor, and that doesn’t ultimately make society better is not worth it. That’s the gift.” Greenberg said the data back up Lessig’s analysis. “Voters aren’t stupid,” he said. “They’ve lived through two billion-dollar cycles paid for by these big interests.” Greenberg described focus group results in which he tested a hypothesis: How much trust could candidates gain just by proposing election reform? In a series of messages, he cycled campaign finance to the front of the candidate’s pitch. “If you present your reform agenda first, then support for your economic plan rises 12-13 points higher,” Greenberg said. “But people need to hear the reform agenda first.” It appears they already have. In the wake of Trump’s recent success, nearly every reformer who spoke with POLITICO Magazine predicted with confidence that 2016 would be the first cycle in which campaign finance plays a central role.

But the billionaire may still have a few pleasant surprises left to hand reformers. “Trump has never been on the receiving end of an attack ad,” observed Donnelly, noting Trump’s notoriously sensitive ego. “When super PAC ads begin to fly, let’s see what happens with his messaging about money and politics.” He added, “He’ll have something to say, not just about the content, but the system that allows them to propagate.” This week, questions have emerged about Trump’s willingness to live up to his incorruptible campaign aura, with a potential pro-Donald super PAC on the way. One reason the framers designed the Electoral College was so that the electors could put a stop to a candidate who rose to power by playing to the people’s prejudices. Everything that’s public and run by government can at least run as poorly in the for-profit world, especially if the profit is being made by some politician’s buddy! And at a campaign rally this week that resembled a scene from a 19th-century American revivalist ceremony, Trump appeared to be toying with the issue, whipping supporters into a frenzied chorus as he recounted how a lobbyist offered to donate $5 million to his campaign. Indeed, Trump has yet to propose any concrete solutions of his own, Potter and other reformers note—but has only held himself up as immune to corruption on account of his billionaire status.

Over the decades, these ideas became deeply entrenched in American political culture, leading Alexis de Tocqueville to praise American mores—“habits of heart”—that undergird self-governing citizenship. Doesn’t anyone wonder how the elites can go from running the corporate mega-companies, than find themselves in retirement heading up government bureaucracies?

Even as prime minister, Berlusconi was rather transparently prisoner to these same passions, holding “bunga bunga” parties, and otherwise launching a debauched festival of greed, through a political culture of bribery, corruption, and tax fraud. The danger with Trump would seem to be that, like Berlusconi, he would be hoist by his own petard, self-destructing precisely through the agent of his rise, and dragging the rest of us with him.

But consider an alternative hypothesis: Trump himself isn’t a creature of the passions; he’s instead strategically employing them as a means to his own ends. He’s been cited many times for what now has become a chestnut: “The point is, you can’t be too greedy.” He’s also come to be known for his braggadocio about his net worth during his 2016 run. The real excitement is playing the game.” The same could be said of virtually every other element of the Trump show: Trump is playing his base through the passions.

Every great challenge facing the country will require complex negotiations between different parties with a faith in the process and subject matter knowledge. And then when someone mentions how he’s also gone bankrupt a time or two, he will just comment how he used the available laws that protect rich corporate types, and shrug it off.

In 1950, for instance, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy opportunistically chose to stoke the public’s anger at Communists by using his House subcommittee in a crusade later famously characterized, by Arthur Miller in The Crucible, as a witch hunt. McCarthy’s reign was dangerous, but it lasted only three years, and it was attorney Joseph Welch’s heartfelt cri de Coeur during the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954—“Have you no sense of decency, sir?”—that rang the loudest. If Trump wants to be successful within the context of American history and its political culture, he should start by replacing the exploitation of the passions with a layer of statesmanship. Suzanne Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice from the Asian American Journalists Association. www.fb.com/emilguillermomedia; www.twitter.com/emilamok, www.amok.com

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