The Trump Card — Ace of Anger Affirmation
Donald Trump has harnessed the anger of disenfranchised grassroots conservatives.
“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” —George Washington (1796)
(Editor’s Note: Fellow Trump supporters, please read this column and see the disclaimer before sending hate mail. Read Alexander’s latest analysis, “About Trump’s ‘New York Values.”)
Given that his populist appeal on issues important to Grassroots American Patriots, and his celebrity name recognition, have landed billionaire Donald Trump at the top of presidential polls, I’m now being asked by some grassroots leaders across the nation, “What about Trump?”
The shortest answer is, I don’t know enough about Donald Trump. However, that being said, he is more complex and capable than his braggadocios facade might imply. And assuming the alternative is Hillary Clinton, everyone to the right of that leftist shill should vote Trump – early and often!
Here are a few things we do know…
First, Trump’s support reflects very little about his qualifications, but a lot about his message, and how dissatisfied tens-of-millions of disenfranchised conservatives are with what now passes for Republican “leadership.” The status quo represented by the wholly ineffective House Speaker, John Boehner, and the somewhat effective Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has, in effect, underwritten Trump’s rising popularity. Despite the substantial increase of dynamic conservatives in the House and Senate after the historic “Republican Wave” national elections in both 2010 and 2014, the much-loathed “establishment types” still hold the reins. They have failed to counter Barack Obama and his socialist Democrat Party policies. Too many GOP leaders continue to marginalize or totally ignore the concerns of the conservative/Republican base — and we are rightly outraged.
Recall that, in 1999, Trump became a major backer of Jesse Ventura and his successful campaign for Minnesota governor. Trump embraced his “outsider” model and message, running as a Reform Party candidate under the tutelage of the infamous Roger Stone. Though he received little support then, his current campaign has all the trademarks of Ventura’s model and message.
I call the underlying anger driving the 2010 and 2014 surges, and Trump’s popularity now, “The Obama Effect.”
Despite his often abrasive “New York values” and the fact that his brilliantly timed and superbly calculated rhetoric is mostly fragrance and not substance, Trump’s appeal is sustained because that rhetoric affirms a broad spectrum of anger — anger that has been seeded by Obama’s unprecedented executive arrogance, and the failure of Republicans to counter his agenda. So confused are some Republicans that they no longer can distinguish between “conservative” and “establishment” candidates.
Seven years of [Obama’s repressive regime has fomented](http://www.wsj.com/articles/president-obama-created-donald-trump-1457048679) despair, delusion and division, among the ranks of Republican voters – so much so that some are willing to take leave of their senses and launch a third party. History is replete with examples of such movements, and the tragic result – ultimately the suppression of Liberty. Most conservatives, many moderates and even some centrist Democrats are exhausted, and consequently, some will settle for anything other than what they perceive to be “status quo.”
The Obama effect was plain in 2010, giving rise to the most authentic grassroots movement in generations – the Tea Party. As a result, Republicans gained 63 seats in the House, retaking control in the biggest shift since 1948. They gained six seats in the Senate and the gains were wide and deep nationwide, as Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislative races, an all-time record. That gave Republicans control of a majority of state legislatures and 29 governorships. But, regrettably, establishment Republican leaders in the House excluded the new conservatives from leadership positions.
The resulting anger is both real and legitimate.
Second, Trump can be brash, but he brings some much-needed humor and levity to an otherwise distinguished but dry quadrennial Republican presidential field. However, his campaign mantra and platform, “We’re going to fix that,” is short on substance. When he does attempt to provide an answer with substance, a week later it changes. That chaotic style may have served Trump well in “The Art of the Deal,” but as National Review’s Rich Lowry concludes, “One lesson of the success of the Trump for president campaign is that as long as you are not making sense with great certainty and forcefulness, no one will care too much that you aren’t making sense. For now, it’s part of the genius of Trump as communicator.” (The one exception would be illegal immigration and I will address that below.)
Third, Trump has the potential of being a spoiler in 2016. If he is not the nominee, his egomaniacal compulsions will likely launch an independent ticket. Indeed, in the first Republican debate, when asked if any of the candidates would not throw there support behind the eventual nominee, Trump raised his hand, refusing to rule out a independent run. In a close election, that will hand the presidency to Hillary Clinton, assuming that enough of her low-information Democrat voters buy into her BIG Lies.
That is precisely what happened the last time a Republican billionaire launched a third-party ticket when the other lying Clinton was on the Democrat ticket1, though I should note Ross Perot’s conservative qualifications were far more credible than any Trump can produce.
Either way, Trump will generate a lot of fratricidal attacks against genuine Republicans and conservatives, rather than focus on Democrats. However, I also believe that Trump will force the other Republicans to sharpen their message, and they will be stronger candidates as a result of Trump’s challenge.
Can the nation survive four more years of Obama’s failed domestic and foreign policies under a Clinton regime?
If Trump becomes the nominee, he could defeat Clinton because she is a very weak and vulnerable candidate. Of course, if Clinton is indicted, the most likely alternative ticket would be the rise of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren at the Demo convention, and that will pose a much more formidable opponent for any GOP nominee, including Trump.
So who is Trump?
In the words of Samuel Adams, “The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.”
Let’s take a look at this public man’s character.
The 69-year-old was born into wealth just after World War II, the son of New York real estate mogul Fred Trump and his Scottish immigrant wife, Mary Anne. Trump attended the finest schools, though he was expelled from high school for “disciplinary violations.” Like his contemporary, Bill Clinton, Trump dodged the draft with college student deferments, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and then receiving a medical draft deferment.
“I had a minor medical deferment for feet, for a bone spur of the foot, which was minor,” said Trump. Minor indeed, given that he can’t even recall which foot: “You’ll have to look it up.”
He was handed the keys to his father’s company in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization, amassing enormous wealth in real estate assets in the ensuing years. His worth is estimated at $4 billion today, with annual income of $250 million (Mitt Romney’s entire net worth).
Trump has two failed marriages prior to his current administration. In 1977 he married Czech immigrant Ivana Zelníčková, and they had three children. They were divorced in 1992 after Ivana discovered his affair with celebrity actress Marla Maples. He married Maples in 1993, and they had one child. They were divorced in 1999. In 2005 he married Slovenian immigrant Melania Knauss. They have one child.
In 2003, he became host of the hit show “The Celebrity Apprentice,” where his fame reached new heights for yelling “You’re Fired!” at contestants who fail. He even filed a trademark application for the term and insists most of his net worth is the value of the “Trump” name.
On his religious views, Trump says: “I’m a religious person. I go to church. Do I do things that are wrong? I guess so. [Seriously, he said "I guess so.”] If I do something wrong, I try to do something right. I don’t bring God into that picture. … When we go in church and I drink the little wine … and I eat the little cracker — I guess that’s a form of asking forgiveness.“
All that said, in January, I outlined my concerns about Donald Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder as follows:
He fits the profile of a deeply insecure narcissist, and they are irrevocably destructive.
Despite his "Celebrity Apprentice” persona, which is largely responsible for his name recognition going into the current primary, during his actual career, he believed that he possessed the Midas Touch – that anything he touched with his Trump brand would turn to gold. His business failures have proved him wrong.
Trump has presided over major business failures impacting the jobs of tens-of-thousands of Americans — Chapter 11 bankruptcies at his Taj Mahal casino (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). (Note that the latter two came after his Apprentice fame, but he didn’t fire himself.) Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was also a financial disaster, but he was able to walk away from that one. Of those failures, Trump says, “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt. … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on 'The Apprentice.’ It’s not personal. It’s just business.”
Unless, of course, you are one of his creditors or one of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have part of their pension or savings invested his ventures. Many successful people have had business failures, but Trump’s “it’s just business” retort neglects to acknowledge the human impact, but such acknowledgment does not come natural to Trump.
In 2012, in what was seemingly his perennial toying with a presidential run, he generated some fluff but then endorsed Mitt Romney. But it was that year he first very publicly demonstrated his petulant intolerance of any criticism. At the 2012 White House correspondents dinner, he repeatedly did so when unable to laugh at jabs from Barack Obama related to Trump’s embrace of the “birth certificate” rat hole, down which Republicans poured much of their political capital ahead of the 2012 election. (Nicely plaid Barack!) That intolerance has emerged now with any jab at Trump by anyone of any political stripe. If he can’t shed the intolerance of constructive criticism, he will ultimately fail as a leader.
To that end, no book is more synonymous with the Trump brand and strategy than “The Art of the Deal” (1987), which Trump says is his second favorite book after the Bible. I can assure you, Trump does not subscribed to the precepts of the latter, and Christian leaders who are sucked into his narcissistic abyss, those who don’t clearly delineate between Trump’s conservative policies and Trump’s grotesque personality, do so at peril to their own integrity. Regarding his book, his ghost writer, Tony Schwartz, now says he would rename the book “The Sociopath” – again, consistent with my concern about his narcissistic pathology. Yes, many politicians demonstrate those tendencies, but Trump has perfected it.
His string of marriages to “arm candy” models, fits the narcissistic pattern. Unfortunately, if elected, his current wife, Melania Trump, will be the first First Lady to appear in widely circulated nude photos from a photo shoot assignment – in bed with another woman.
So what exactly is the Trump appeal?
Well, as noted, it’s celebrity, it is an agenda that resonates with grassroots folks, and the fact he’s clearly not from the loathsome “establishment Republican” mold and brand.
But completely eclipsing any of his other oversimplified policy soundbites, when announcing his candidacy Trump hit a home run on an issue that is a concern for almost all grassroots conservatives and many moderates: “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems [to] us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Since that announcement, he has kept his message on illegal immigrants simple: “They’ve got to go!” His “build the wall” has become a slogan.
While most of the Republican field remains largely equivocal on the illegal immigration issue, as Republican congressional “leaders” have been for years, Trump is clear on his objections and solutions. In what has become his only concrete policy platform, his plan to solve the illegal immigration problem, his clear resolution to solve that perennially unsolved hot-button issue, is driving his grassroots popularity. Trump says he will dispense with the “anchor baby” problem, deport all illegal immigrants and have Mexico pay to construct a southern border wall to keep them from coming back. Notably, despite some claims to the contrary, there is precedent for mass deportation – it was Dwight Eisenhower’s Operation Wet Back. And, despite some claims to the contrary, the 14th Amendment does not have to be amended or repealed in order to address the anchor baby issue, as it does not provide anchor baby citizenship – except as wholly misinterpreted by the courts.
Of the estimated 11-20 million illegals in our country (nobody really knows), 8.1 million hold jobs. At the same time, there were an average of 9.6 million unemployed Americans in 2014. It’s easy to understand the grassroots groundswell this issue generates for Trump. Democrat support for illegal immigration may bolster their constituent rolls, but it drives down wages for American workers.
And the recent murder of California native Kate Steinle on a pier in the “sanctuary city” of San Francisco by an illegal immigrant released once again after seven felony convictions and five deportations, rightly has stirred outrage across the nation. Her murderer is among more than a million illegal aliens who have committed crimes, some 690,000 of whom were charged with serious crimes but are today on the loose.
This, understandably, has kept Trump’s immigration platform front and center and conservatives GOP candidates better catch up if they want to compete with Trump.
Beyond taking on the illegal immigration issue, Trump has also promised to appoint constitutionally constructionist judges to the Supreme Court, and says he will take on unfair trade issues with China.
On the other hand, in his unmitigated arrogance, Trump has succeeded in alienating many of the grassroots military Patriots who supported him. Apparently forgetting that he himself avoided the draft, Trump challenged the notion that Sen. John McCain deserves any recognition for his service in Vietnam. According to Trump, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Like McCain or not, fact is that as a naval aviator, the son and grandson of Navy admirals, he asked for additional combat missions over Vietnam. After being shot down a badly injured, McCain refused his captors’ propagandistic offers to leave his fellow POWs and return home — meaning he was a target for additional torture.
McCain’s response to Trump stuck: “I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country. … In the case of many of our veterans, when Mr. Trump said that he prefers to be with people who are not captured, well, the great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes. I’m not a hero. But those who were my senior ranking officers … those that have inspired us to do things that we otherwise wouldn’t have been capable of doing, those are the people that I think he owes an apology to.”
Of course no apology was forthcoming. I do not believe Trump is capable of a sincere apology…
However, as the inimitable humorist Mark Twain once quipped, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” And so it may be with Trump’s campaign, as it continues to gain traction.
Campaigns either destroy candidates or make them stronger. It would appear that in Trump’s case it’s the latter. For sure, Trump’s campaign is a barometer of just how deeply angry grassroots conservatives are with the Republican Party, and it is a litmus test of what issues motivate grassroots conservatives.
Historian Victor Davis Hanson concludes, “Trump is a transitory vehicle of the fed-up crowd, a current expression of their distaste for both Democratic and Republican politics, but not an end in and of himself. The fed-up crowd is tired of being demagogued to death by progressives, who brag of ‘working across the aisle’ and ‘bipartisanship’ as they ram through agendas with executive orders, court decisions, and public ridicule. So the fed-ups want other conservative candidates to emulate Trump’s verve, energy, fearlessness of the media and the PC police, and no-holds-barred Lee Atwater style — without otherwise being Trump.
But the hard, cold fact is, at the end of the day, Trump is all about Trump. He will eventually have to answer for his perennial support of socialized healthcare, raising taxes and a plethora of social issues abhorred by grassroots conservatives.
But the real test of Trump’s legitimacy as a Republican is how he measures up against the Gold Standard of 20th century presidents, Ronald Reagan. Unlike the rest of the large Republican field, Trump doesn’t even register on the Reagan. but given his populist appeal, thought his character and style are nothing like Reagan, he may pull it off.
At the first Republican ”debate“ Trump held his ground with all the top-tier Republican contenders but refused to promise he would not run a third party campaign. At the second debate, Trump lost ground, looking more like he was running a "vanity campaign” than a serious contender.
So let me reiterate – when I’m asked about Donald Trump, I defer to the timeless wisdom of George Washington: “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” Time will tell if Trump is a pretender.
And a final note, I am asked frequently, “Who would you like to see on the 2016 ballot?” My answer: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Disclaimer: Before sending hate mail, understand that I am charged with profiling the real Donald Trump. I share the legitimate contempt our fellow grassroots Americans hold for so-called “establishment Republicans.”
1 If Trump is not the nominee, and decides to launch a third party bid, caveat emptor. Recall if you will what happened after the last wealthy Republican billionaire, Ross Perot, threw his hat into the presidential ring back in 1992. Unlike Trump, Perot had far more statesmanlike attributes and qualifications — and, of course, charts. But the result of his third-party candidacy was disastrous for the country. In a three-way contest with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and sitting president George H.W. Bush (who had handily won his first presidential bid in 1988 against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and was riding high on the success of Desert Storm), Perot took almost 19 percent of the popular vote, leaving Bush with 37.5 percent and a victorious Clinton with a mere 43 percent plurality. Some 60 percent of Perot’s support came from Ronald Reagan’s middle-class Democrats and moderates, whom Bush had betrayed by breaking his famous “read my lips: no new taxes” pledge and by committing other regulatory assaults on middle-income families and entrepreneurs. Make no mistake: Ross Perot handed the presidency to Bill Clinton. I hope Donald Trump doesn’t hand it to Hillary.
Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
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