Thursday, September 10, 2015


For the past three month's America's news media and its viewing and listening audience has been fed a non-stop diet of Donald Trump.  He was first seen only as a passing fancy, someone who the public would quickly see through and fall out of contention as a Republican candidate for president.  The GOP establishment certainly hoped this would be the case, and the media laid in waiting to chart his expected downfall.  The Trump name has always been a financial and media creation, in real estate, in business, in reality show entertainment, and, now, how would it fare in politics?  Certainly not here too, the public is too smart, too shrewd, too selective for that!  How wrong the experts, and most of the concerned public, has been!?

What is responsible for Trump's continued, in fact, growing popularity among potential Republican voters?  And how should the general public's mounting fascination with him be viewed?  Certainly the media's virtual nonstop attention to him since the campaigning began has played a significant role.  Trump knows how to play the media beautifully, drawing attention to himself and away from others. The public seems fascinated by his sheer gall, his crassness, his crudeness, arrogance, and insults. He has given new meaning to the term "Teflon Candidate", comments and behaviors that would destroy other potential candidates if made by them, are seen, when coming from him, as a refreshing breath of his selective, candid, unique perspective--political correctness is overrated anyway, isn't it?  The 16 other GOP contenders for the presidency are getting a mere pittance of attention from the media compared to that granted Trump, and most of that attention is focused on his style, his passing comments, his crude putdowns, not on the details of any substantive ideas he is adding to the campaign.  The nation is faced with numerous serious issues that demand in depth, substantive discussion and resolution, this has been virtually totally lacking in the Republican campaigning so far, as the focus on Mr. Trump has diverted attention to the admittedly unique but politically trivial aspects of Trump's personal style.  Politics is in danger of becoming another of his media reality shows, much more entertainment than substance, with the nation's real issues left to dangle in the overblown hot air and periodic laughs.

The media's preoccupation, however, doesn't do justice to the underlying reasons for his continued popularity.  That the three leading candidates in the GOP field are all considered anti-GOP establishment candidates carries a powerful message of how angry Republican voters are with the leadership of their party.  Congress's approval rating has never been lower, both chambers are under Republican control, their intent to stonewall Obama on most issues has failed miserably in the public's view, Obama's approval rating is over three times that of the Congress that has consistently tried to block his every move.  No one has captured that anger, and that desire to "make America great again" better than Trump, and all the mainstream Republican contenders that were expected to be the frontrunners are left with single digits in the polls, floundering in his dust.

Even considering this very legitimate anger of many concerned voters, and how they may be attracted to a non-establishment, untraditional candidate, it is still surprising that so many are drawn to apparently support a man like Donald Trump.  His overt egotism, his non-stop bragging, his focus on the superficial, his lack of depth, his petulance, his crassness, his tendency to immediately polarize and put-down, his lack of empathy, and total absence of any experience in affairs of state, or dealing with conflict situations with anything other than bullying, force, and pressure.  Is this really the kind of leader a significant number of Americans would choose to have?  Has our American psyche, our current civic and cultural state, sunk that much in recent years?  Candidates are a media creation as well as a political creation.  Much of what is on TV and in our media models some of the behaviors and attitudes Trump demonstrates.  If his apparent popularity is a reflection of on-going changes in our national character, it is, to be sure, a rude wake up call for those who want more for our nation, and expect better from our leaders.  Will the wake up call be answered by an informed, sensible public?  Much is at stake, lets hope so!