No one knows what to do with Donald Trump. A vaudevillian, circus performer, huckster, snake oil salesman, and carny barker as President of the United States? How could that be? What would Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Adams possibly make of this media and real estate mogul who is reshaping the American political landscape?
The Founding Fathers aside, neither the GOP nor the Democratic Left have any idea whatsoever. They are bamboozled and completely befuddled by The Donald, refuse to take him seriously, assume that the country will soon come to its senses and reject this New York charlatan. The times are too dangerous, too precipitous, and possibly too calamitous to have a clown at the helm of the ship of state.
Marco Rubio, a GOP contender for the Presidency during the 2016 election, a normally mild-mannered and temperate member of the Republican centrist establishment, went gutter and smarmy. Ted Cruz, another pretender, veered as far to the religious right as he possibly could, sounding like a Biblical prophet, Billy Sunday, and Jimmy Swaggart all rolled into one. They all had become unhinged. The normal attacks on issues and positions found no traction. The more they went off course, hopping and bumping like comic jousters in Punch and Judy, howling and name-calling, hoping to land enough low blows to throw the man off his stride, the more The Donald rose in the polls.
Neither logic, ideas, high-minded appeals, or invocations of God and Jesus Christ Almighty had any resonance whatsoever. Trump was not the Teflon candidate, but Mighty Joe Young, the beast, King Kong, and the incarnation of every American hero since John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone.
Cruz, Rubio, Hillary, and Ben Carson not only never got Trump, but they were nowhere close to figuring him out. They are as crusty, barnacled, shopworn, and out-of-date as James B. Buchanan, and fustian to boot. They have missed the 20th century altogether.
Meanwhile Trump went from sideshow to big top to megachurch on a roll. In the run-up to the New Hampshire primary almost as many non-residents as registered voters went to Manchester to see The Donald show; and he did not disappoint. He offended everyone like a Borscht Belt comedian. His delivery was better than Henny Youngman and Milton Berle, his one-liners zinged like Jackie Mason’s, and his hysterical attacks of the media, Washington, and the coastal establishments were the main event.
Politics – the old fashioned issues, philosophy, and serious consideration of ideas and positions – is consummately boring; and everyone but intellectuals on the Left and the Right knows it. George Will and his historical allegories, Paul Krugman and his socialist laments, the whole of MSNBC, The Guardian, the New York Time, and the National Review are the only ones who try to parse, analyze, deconstruct, and make logical sense of Donald Trump. The rest of the country gets it.
Americans are angry, pissed off at political correctness, wishy-washy international affairs, profligate waste of taxpayer money, do-good nanny state government interventionism, Black Lives Matter, gay marriage, buggery, baby-killing, God in the broom closet, and creeping socialism. As Howard Beal yelled in Paddy Chayefsky's Network, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore”.
What could be more appealing than a President who is as mad as they are, but also an American Idol. It is one thing for pipe fitters in Gary, Indiana to raise their voices in protest against Liberal arrogance, another thing altogether for a self-made billionaire, television personality, and street fighter par excellence to do so. Trump is their hero; and like Madonna, Beyoncé, Adele, or Justin Bieber, he plays to their audiences.
As reported recently by a BBC reporter covering the election, a number of Republican primary voters said that they could care less about policy papers, issues statements, consistency, depth, and clarity. Trump so articulated their frustration, anger, and resentment, that they would take their chances on a President a bit iffy on domestic affairs and international relations.
Every President has waffled, betrayed, and strayed from the principles that got him elected. Ronald Reagan got elected twice on just four basic principles – small government, private enterprise, military strength, and patriotism – and a generous, homely, and honest spirit. Although to liberal Democrats he was a dope, a puppet, and a Hollywood lightweight, to everyone else he was a hero. The American people understood that the intellectual brilliance of a Jimmy Carter isn’t worth a hill of beans when it comes to leadership.
Winston Churchill is remembered not for his multi-volume history of the English-speaking peoples or of World War II; nor for his ominous foresight about the Nazis and the Soviet Union, but his heroic rhetoric and physical courage during the Blitz. Churchill was leader because he understood, respected, and revered the pluck and native heroism of the British people, not because of his platforms.
Trump, like Reagan and Churchill, are the right men for their times. No charismatic or transformational leader emerges solely thanks to his genius. The times have to be right – zeitgeist and political leadership go hand-in-hand.
Many Americans are so fed up with the corrupt, venal, and exploitative manipulations of Washington, Wall Street, corporate America, and the media, that they are willing to say, “Fuck it!”. It can’t get any worse than it is. A President who has his priorities properly aligned with those of middle America, and not those of the sanctimonious elites of Washington and New York deserves a chance, regardless of the risk.
Think about it. ISIS and Islamic extremism, a fragmenting European Union, a resurgent Russia, a wobbly world economy, and a divided and hostile American populace, and Americans are still willing to take their chances with Donald Trump. Americans are not as stupid as the progressive Left would have us believe. They are intelligent, savvy, and just. They are willing to reject decades of temperate moderation and take a chance on fundamental social revolution. They must be listened to. They have not been manipulated, sold a bill of goods, or tricked; and to believe that is to disrespect the American electorate and democracy itself.
The election of 2016 was the most important in recent years. Donald Trump was elected along with a Republican Congress, so years of progressive interventionism, anti-liberalism, and politically correct polices will be rolled back. Gone will be accommodation in the name of negotiation, and back will be the Kissinger days of Machiavellian realpolitik. Name your enemies and with your trusted allies, destroy them. Worry less about collectivism, communalism, and good will; and liberate individual enterprise, creativity, and intelligence.
Yes, there are risks. Political neophytes have had their comeuppance from the days of Ancient Rome to today; but Donald Trump is no babe in the woods. Washington politics may be superficially different from the world of real estate, but at heart they are both brutal, no-holds-barred, win-at-all-costs wars; and the victor in both arenas is the man or woman who has resolve, indomitable will, supreme self-confidence and –assurance, brains, and uncanny insight.
Yet Trump deserves a big, big chance.