“I do whine because I want to win and I’m not happy about not winning and I am a whiner and I keep whining and whining until I win.” This statement which is reminiscent of the modus operandi of a toddler, came out of the mouth of the potential next president of the United States. Other such statements such as, “Women? You have to treat ’em like shit,” and “I will be phenomenal to the women. I mean, I want to help women,” have also come from the same mouth. I am of course talking about the mouth of Donald Trump.
Trump is a political enigma and has an incredibly complex relationship with the country and the GOP. He is a strange candidate for a number of reasons, some obvious, some less so. Most importantly, he isn’t a career politician, and interestingly enough his positions on issues just a few years in the past diametrically clash with the party he is running with. Yet he still handily holds the top spot among Republicans. His candor is both praised and reviled by those on the left and the right. He spits in the face of political correctness. His statements are divisive and controversial and he retains a group of stalwart supporters who seem receptive to his unorthodox campaign and continue to push him up in the polls. He has been all over every major news outlet, almost as if it is some sort of obsession. Other Republicans and Republican candidates can’t stop talking about him. He isn’t even trying.
Trump might not be a politician, but he is certainly a showman—and a good one at that. After the first Republican primary debate (which had the most viewers for a non-sporting event in the history of cable television primarily due to the attendance of Trump), he found himself taking flak for his unprofessional style, canned responses and most notably his misogynistic statements towards women and one of the moderators, Megyn Kelly. He wasn’t showing it, but he was going into damage control. Even for his campaign that performance was a P.R. disaster.
But what about substance? Prior to the debate (and quite frankly during it) we had heard virtually zero policy proposals from Trump except about building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. on Mexico’s dime. While that may be a good spark for a campaign, it can’t continue to stoke its fire forever. Evidently either Trump or his advisors realized this and within the past few weeks he has been blitzing the media (mostly Fox News) about policies and his positions on issues. He spoke about Iran, taxes and Planned Parenthood, among other things. Some of his positions and speeches aired in these interviews came as a surprise for much of his base. While he has opposed the Iran deal, he believes in a tax plan that would tax the wealthy more. While he doesn’t support abortions at Planned Parenthood, he believes it is still important for Planned Parenthood to be funded in order to help more impoverished women get the healthcare they need. This had some of his base scratching their heads. Regardless, he still remains the front runner in the GOP.
Meanwhile, mainstream Republicans are keen to dethrone him and disassociate him from the party. Not only for his statements and actions, but for his unwillingness to promise that he would not run as a third party candidate if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination. He would essentially be holding the party hostage, since Trump running as a third party candidate would likely be a death knell to the GOP’s run for the White House. It would harken back to the GOP’s political ambitions being destroyed in 1992 by Ross Perot’s third party run. Say what you want about Trump, he isn’t stupid. Either that or the people advising him are really smart.
Who knows how long Trump-mania will last. Will his campaign be a bust? Will he win the nomination? Take the White House? Too soon to say. Mr. Trump has blurred the lines between politics and entertainment. He has angered many and has enamored just as many or more. Many people probably wouldn’t be able to give you a cogent reason as to why they support Trump. For now, him being a threat to everything that is status quo seems to be his main draw. But isn’t that what every politician promises?