Regardless of whether you hate or love Donald Trump, you have to be somewhat astonished at his recent victory of securing the nomination after Kasich and Cruz dropped out of the race. The media has given Donald Trump unprecedented attention over the course of his 11-month campaign for the Presidency. As of last week, Donald Trump has secured the Republican Nomination beating out a total of 16 candidates, and somehow accomplishing it with no prior political experience and very limited support from the Republican Party.
When Trump ran an unofficial campaign in 2012, he was nothing more than a laughing matter for both the democratic and the republican party. At President Obama’s White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 he tore Trump apart by criticizing him on his reality TV show experience. As funny as it was at the time, it’s no laughing matter now since the same skills that Donald uses for his TV shows helped him secure the nomination for “his party”. Yes, you read the last sentence right… His party because he has literally showed the Republican Party that he can secure the nomination with or without the support of top political donors. Up to this point he has received very few political endorsements from Republican lawmakers. Despite being laughed, mocked, and ridiculed by the media, he found a way to do what really hasn’t been done before and political scientists will analyze his campaign as a new case study.
There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump would be a horrendous President in almost every way. He has zero political experience, he cannot accurately explain a relevant foreign policy strategy other than arguing that we need to get “tough with other countries” and he usually responds to questions with vague statements that lack relevant substance about how he can do a better job than others. Justifiably so, as he is a wealthy real-estate businessman that has gained even more wide spread notoriety off of his reality TV shows.
His statements are filled with racism, bigotry, and prejudice. If elected, the economy would rapidly decline, our international credibility would be hurt, and the race relations in this country would deteriorate even farther than they have already. The Trump Campaign has exposed that America still hasn’t really confronted our deep-seated issues like slavery, abortion, gay rights, and immigration. This is no secret as his Republican candidates have attacked him and stated that he would be the worst choice for America (If you don’t believe me, then look at Hilary Clinton’s new ad). Then why has he been able to have so much success on the campaign?
The majority of Americans don’t have the time to sit down and study the political issues and they’re upset with our government. With Congress’s approval rating at 11% in 2011 by CBS News, it’s indisputable to argue that people are not frustrated with our political system. How could they not be? Political gridlock is worse than ever in Washington and politicians have been out of touch with the American people for years. The majority are wealthy businessman/woman or lawyers that cannot seem to work together to accomplish very much. There has always been political disagreement among Republicans and Democrats, but it has never been this bad. Referring back to my original question, we ask why Trump has been able to amass so much public support?
The answer lies in neither the scholarly logical justifications based upon ones breadth or experience, nor in the support or political donation received from those within the party. Arguably, the very nature of political campaigns generate an aura full of passion, often resulting in statements that appeal heavily to your emotion; resembling that of a tempestuous storm spewing statements challenging your chaotic fears, reaffirming your desire to transform the country, and promising your hopes and dreams for your children to grow up in a better place. Campaigns are simply a strategic narrative told in a different way and Trump emphasizes strong statements to weave together a narrative about making America Great.
When President Obama was elected in 2008, he wasn’t the candidate with the most experience (he had only been in the Senate for two years before announcing his formal campaign). The safer choice for the democratic party would have been to support Hillary Clinton for the Democrat Nomination, but he managed to tap into the hearts of the voters. Without accounting for the significance of his race in the election, he ran off of the notion of “change” and connected with Americans about creating one America (If you don’t believe me watch this video). Trump has been able to tap into the emotion that surrounds a Presidential election and has promised to “make our country great again”. Isn’t that similar to change we can believe it?
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying he is anything like President Obama, President Obama is everything that Trump is not… I’m simply stating that they both delivered a strong statement about how we can make this country better. What was the worst thing for a Democrat in 2007? A return to the Bush Administration’s policies. What is the worst fear for most Republicans now (excluding Trump)? If you’re a Republican who is tired of the Obama Administration's policies, you’re sick and tired of President Obama and want a change. Historically, it would be difficult for a Democratic candidate to win the White House for another term with a Republican majority in the both the House and the Senate. However, we all know that this election has been unique in every single way possible and the typical cyclical campaign rules don’t seem to apply to this election.
As of June 4, 2016 Republicans have a very difficult choice looming over their heads that will serve as the ultimatum for defining what we understand as the Republican party. The vow that Republicans swore not to support President Obama for the past 8 years is evident through their countless attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, their refusal to simply give Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing, and their inability to draft legislation that provides new funding for the Zika Virus (AND NO - Passing a bill by diverting funds from Ebola is not the same thing!). The irony is that after fighting the President for 8 years, the Republican party now has a candidate that they don’t entirely support as the nominee for their party.
The failure of the Republican party to rally behind a single candidate allowed Trump to continue to pull votes from a wide range of voters. Consequently, when Mitt Romney gave a speech earlier this year attacking Trump for his failed business policies and stating “A businessman, he is not”, Romney failed to support one candidate by simply stating “anyone but Trump”. The severity of the situation can be analyzed from an understanding that this is the first and only time a former nominee (Romney in 2012) has publicly bashed a current presidential candidate for his own party. The fact that John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House during the majority of the Obama Administration called Trump “Lucifer” leaves little to the imagination.
If this were any other year, Republicans would easily support the Republican nominee no matter what he or she said, but Trump is not a traditional Republican candidate and the party has no clue what to expect (other than vague statements about making America great again). Republicans are now charged with making the difficult decision to support Hillary Clinton (it is statistically unlikely that Bernie will secure the nomination) or supporting Trump, who I like to think of as the Joker from the Dark Knight. Clinton has been condemned by Republicans for her role in Benghazi, her deleted emails at the State Department, and for a variety of other issues. I get it Republicans…- you don’t trust her, you don’t like her, and you’re tired of the “socialist policies” that you believe Democrats put forth and want every person to work for themselves, and you want the White House back. The bottom line is that none of that actually matters now.
Are you willing to support a racist, misogynistic, and unpredictable candidate just to claim the White House? Trump hasn’t listened to anyone in the past and he won’t start taking orders from Speaker Ryan or Republican leadership if he is elected. This could be the one event that breaks party lines for Republicans in the House and the Senate. This election will decide the future of our country and Republicans now have the choice of whether to support a slightly liberal Democrat or an extremely erratic Republican. Will Republicans lawmakers suck up their pride and support the lesser of the two evils in their eyes (Clinton won’t destroy our political system as she is a fairly moderate Democrat by all measures) or will they rally behind a racist, xenophobic candidate that their entire party does not support? Their choice will ultimately impact their party, the presidency, and the lives of millions of the hard-working Americans in this country.