Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Brilliance of Donald Trump.

The headline on my copy of the Washington Post this morning blares: "Trump takes big GOP lead in poll." Trump now has a double digit lead over his nearest opponent, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin. His mug litters my Twitter feed. People are shocked (shocked!) that Trump, he of the biggest in a field of big mouths, likewise leads the field in this latest poll.

There is nothing absurd about this poll, or Donald Trump's place in it. There is absolutely nothing absurd about the Trump candidacy. This is simply the near-culmination of a national movement, comprised almost entirely of suburban and rural white folks over the age of 55, that has spoon-fed itself, quite willingly, a steady diet of fear, indeed has well gorged at the buffet of political fear. Fear has become quite an industry in the modern United States, and Donald Trump is the fear industry's candidate. Fear is a moneymaker - and it might be a kingmaker.

Trump is not particularly creative with his outlandishness, he just reflect the language of countless American living rooms, where 24 hour news and blaring talk radio fill the domestic ether. From that standpoint, the Trump campaign is actually brilliant, tapping into a pulsing vein of the society it seeks to lead, like so many other successful presidential candidates have done over the years.

Trump is the candidate of the anonymous online commenters, the meme generators, the Confederate flag wavers, the conspiracy theorists, and those who nurse a whole slew of phobias with tender care and feeding. Despite what may be the hopes of the political establishment, and of thoughtful people generally, they are not a mere fringe and they are unlikely to go away soon.

His campaign blends two trademark American qualities, a run-amok disdain for political correctness with a penchant (one might even say a boastful pride) for being half-informed.  To some it comes across as buffoonery, but it is the stuff of life for a significant stripe of the voting public. 

It would be a grave mistake for anyone to think that Donald Trump doesn't closely reflect the mindset of many, many Americans.