“What do you think about Donald Trump?” That’s a question I hear more and more these days. People are curious about how he is in position to possibly win the presidency of the United States.
From the beginning the experts have been wrong about his chances and so was I. Remember when Trump announced his candidacy and proceeded to make remarks about Mexicans being criminals and rapists? Along with most of the political pundits I thought he was done before he even got started. We were wrong.
Remember when he said Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured? Political analysts thought he was done and so did I. But he wasn’t. Any number of things he’s said could have resulted in his demise. Consider this short list:
- Carly Fiorina’s looks
- Megan Kelly’s blood
- Possibly punishing women who would get an abortion if abortion were illegal
- The name calling with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio
Despite these things his following only got stronger. Why? As I wrote months ago (Have We Changed or Are We Just Politically Correct), perhaps he is saying what many Americans actually think and feel but wouldn’t say in the politically correct environment in which we live. Now those people have a voice in Donald Trump.
Early on, Trump followers were denounced because of their strong-arm tactics at some of his rallies. They would shout down the opposition and sometimes get physical with Trump’s approval. People accused him of inciting violence.
Now the tables have turned. In Arizona we witnessed Trump protestors blocking roads to prevent his supporters from attending a rally. In several cities in California Trump protestors went much further than Trump’s followers ever had. Young people assaulted Trump supporters – male and female – without provocation. All the while the media showed Mexican flags waving in the background.
Confirmation bias is playing a big role in favor of Trump. This psychological concept shows people aren’t always open to new information and possible change. No, most people look for information that confirms what they already believe. In the case of Trump, young Latinos shown harassing Trump supporters on the nightly news only confirms for many people that he has been right all along about immigration.
On the subject of confirmation bias, most anti-Trump people don’t realize they’re falling into his trap the more they try to bash him. His supporters simply see their actions as attacks on him and double down in their belief in him.
And then there’s the media. They don’t know how to deal with Trump either. Case in point, CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Donald about his comments regarding a Mexican-American judge presiding over a case dealing with Trump University. When Tapper tried to get Trump to admit his comment was racist, Trump didn’t yield an inch and didn’t come across as someone back-peddling. He continued to assert his point about why he said what he said. Tapper looked like he didn’t know what to do. Trump has taken considerable heat for the comment, especially from the Republican Party, but Trump supporters see this as proof that all along the establishment has been out to stop him. Their view isn’t that the party is doing this for America but rather for their own power that’s at stake.
With Trump, people feel like they know what they get. He speaks his mind and doesn’t come across as a polished, Teflon-fake, career politician. Does he flip on some issues? Yes but it doesn’t come across as someone who puts up their finger to see which way the wind is blowing. Right or wrong, like him or dislike him, Trump says what he believes, or more rightly, feels in the moment, and people are responding to that. For more on this read Donald Trump’s mASS Appeal.
Hillary and Bernie
It certainly helps Trump that he’s running against Hillary Clinton. Were it not for Trump being in the race, polls show Hillary would be the most disliked candidate to ever run for president. Her years in politics and numerous scandals (and Bill’s) have many people saying they would never under any circumstances vote for her. Her email scandal only reinforces for many people that she’s not trustworthy and is a “typical politician.”
To make matters worse, she’s in danger of losing many Bernie Sanders’ supporters who feel they cannot vote for her in a system they believe is rigged. They would rather send a message to the Democratic Party, even if it means losing the election, because when Bernie loses they will say it’s because of the rigged system. Why would they want to vote for Hillary, whom they see as part of the problem, after losing what they perceive to be an unfair election?
So there’s a confluence of things that are making Donald Trump’s improbable run a reality. Divorced from emotion, if someone would have told you years ago some of the things Trump would say and do I highly doubt you’d think there was any possibility he’d be in the position he’s in now. But we cannot divorce ourselves from emotion.
The Most Important Reason
This leads me to the final and perhaps most important reason Trump is succeeding – he’s a classic salesman. Good salespeople know people buy based on emotion and justify with logic after the fact. Trump drives home the message that America isn’t great right now and supports it by saying:
- We negotiate bad deals
- We overpay our share to defend the world
- We have problems with illegal immigration
- We have a problem with terrorism at home and abroad
It’s hard to dispute those things but Trump isn’t giving details on what he’ll do to make us great again. Instead he makes grand promises:
- He will negotiate great deals
- He will Cut defense funding to NATO, Japan, South Korea and other countries
- He will build a wall…that Mexico will pay for
- He will ban Muslims from coming to America for a period of time
In short, he “promises” to “Make America Great Again.”
Trump is tapping into emotions most other politicians can’t get to with their bland style of politics and old rhetoric. You may not agree with Donald’s methods, or like them, but there’s no denying he’s doing what almost nobody expected.
What’s to Come
There’s no guarantee he will win in November but there is one thing I think we can all agree on – this will be unlike any presidential campaign we’ve ever witnessed. Everyone should pay close attention to what is said by both parties to try to win our votes because the stakes are high.