Sunday, December 27, 2015

Playing the Trump Card

Donald Trump is an amazing presidential candidate. Besides being wealthy (at least on paper), he's brash, arrogant and vain. Normally not admirable qualities, especially when running for the nation's top elected office. But in "The Donald's" case, it may be exactly what he needs to stand out. Besides, few candidates for higher office lack these same qualities. Have you ever noticed that individuals running for office, especially the higher offices of Congress or the Presidency, seem to all dress alike? Dark blue suits. White or off white shirts. About the only individuality they show is in their ties, and they're pretty conservative as well. Even the women running for office don't show much color. Basically it's all pretty bland. Their comments are just as equally bland, or worse, they're "safe". No one running for office really says what they're thinking. No one says we should bomb the bejeezus out of so-and-so, or tar and feather the bankers (and actually mean it). When was the last time a politician actually spoke to Americans on their level---direct and honestly? For anyone under 30---heck, 40---I doubt they've ever heard one before. Even for those over 40, we'd probably have to go back years. Frankly, they're afraid to speak their minds or to "offend" some group. They stay well within the bounds of what their pollsters and media consultants say is acceptable.

The trouble is that the candidates are all alike, despite their polished and well-rehearsed "I'm one of the Common People" speeches and stops at some local eatery for photo-ops. They're not. They are cookie cutter candidates. They are polished to the point of looking phony if not downright comical (case in point, Mitt Romney or Al Gore). They talk about what they'll do if elected when we known darn good and well they can't do anything by themselves. They like to talk in terms of "us" versus the Beltway crowd when in fact, they are part of the Beltway crowd. They are on a first name, backslappin', palm greasing basis with them. Most in Congress, if not all, are millionaires several times over going in. If not, then they are within a few years of being elected. Frankly, public office, especially at the federal level, is a Millionaires Club, and the cost to play (that is, run for office) is way above the means of most ordinary Americans (where probably the best ideas and common sense solutions are to be found).

We all know America is no longer a democratic republic like what the Founding Fathers intended. We're an oligarchy, controlled by corporate interests and corporate money. The truth be known, most in Washington couldn't care less what you and I think, especially with the passage of Citizens United a few years ago by the Supreme Court. As you'll recall, Citizens United decided the money is in reality nothing more than free speech, and that corporations are actually "people" and therefore, entitled to the same rights as an individual. Well, sort of. You see, we're still capped at how much "free speech" we can donate to candidates, but these judicial Frankensteins can donate almost as much as they please. They already dominated the time of Congress and the President (as well as their staff and others in key positions). Now, they can compensate them with money so they don't have to face the unwashed masses.

Then there is "The Donald". True, he wears the usual imperious dark blue or grey suits and the prerequisite white shirts. He also almost always wear his signature crimson red tie which he's worn for decades (in fact, I think he may have pioneered the "power suit" image). My first encounter with Trump was watching Robin Leach's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" back in the self styled "Go-Go" 80's in which Trump and his then wife, Ivanka, made frequent appearances. This was the era of corporate raiders like Carl Icahn and T. Boone Pickens, conspicuous consumption, big hair, boy bands, and glitz was king (or queen...or sometimes both. It was hard to tell). I had recently gotten out of the military and after a short stint as an assistance store manager, went on to college where I obtained a Masters degree in International Economics. As part of our coursework, we were required to read various articles from Forbes, Barron's, the Wallstreet Journal, and other financial media. In nearly everyone there was an article about Trump and a big ole color photo. I went on to purchase several books both by and about him. Trump has never been shy about successes, or his failures including some ill-conceived over reaches in Atlantic City, four bankruptcies, and a divorce. Let's face it, the guy knows how to get and manage publicity no matter the situation.

Trump's political journey has been as colorful as his financial one. He's supported candidates from both sides of the aisle. According to Trump, many were personal friends or individuals he's had successful business relationships with, so how could he not? He's been a independent, a Democrat, and now a Republican. Someone people try to make that an issue, but why? As long as you're not holding an elected office, you should feel free to change your political registration anytime and as often as you'd like. It's your right as an American Citizen. Issues and positions change as new information becomes available. Political parties even change. Some shift Left or Right and back again, which leaves people with solid core values in something of a lurch--- what to do when their political party or leaders leaves them? Perhaps that's one reason the majority of Americans today are registered as Independent.

Nevertheless, the political elite has a problem with Donald Trump, and that problem is Donald Trump himself. He isn't suppose to be there. Trump was at first considered comic relief; a "not ready for primetime" candidate. Pundits and assorted talking heads claimed he wasn't a "serious" candidate. Many called for him to drop out, yet his approval numbers began to climb, and along with it, the size of the crowds who came out to see him. This, of course, perplexed the status quo and so they began a subtle campaign to belittle, intimidate, and make fun of Donald Trump and his campaign, and each time, the approval numbers just kept getting higher and the crowds larger. "Why?" they must have wondered. He wasn't a Washington insider trying to pretend that's he's really a Washington outsider. He wasn't dependant on the corporate elites who finance campaigns and buy candidates the way some people buy washing machines. And his speeches! What's with that? Trump's are so...unscripted. He's actually telling people what he thinks; unfiltered and occasionally slightly off the wall (ok, maybe more than "occasionally"), but somehow, it's what the people want to hear, or at least it's what the people need to hear because they believe it themselves. He's not afraid to speak his mind or go toe-to-toe with anyone in the other party, his party, or even the media.

The US has lost a get deal of respect and prestige over the last, roughly, 7 years thanks to Obama. The US is seen as not as strong or reliable to enemies and friends alike. In fact, the US President is now ranked as the third most powerful office in the world, behind Russia's Putin and Germany's Merkel (for the previous two years, it ranked second behind Putin). Obama's professional and even personal relationships with key world leaders has been chilly at best. But what do some of these leaders think about "The Donald"? Actually, they respect him as a leader and man of his word. Some admit to genuinely liking him as a person, but, of course, they're careful to avoid being accused of "meddling" in US politics, particularly if it would damages Trump's chances of winning the Republican Primary.

Yet, throughout all this, the media, both on the Left and on the Right, have been doing everything they can to smear, bully, intimidate, and ridicule Trump's race. They've recruited various TV and sports personalities to come out against Trump (who they come out for appears to be less important right now). Some have encouraged the other candidates to engage in Trump-like rhetoric---pre-vetted of course---in the hopes of at least knocking Trump's approval ratings down a notch or two if nothing else. Some on the conservative right have been trying to sound the alarm that nominating, let alone electing, a candidate like Donald Trump would spell the end of the Republican Party. Even a few on the Left have been starting to echo that sentiment as well, lest some Leftwing version of Trump decides to challenge the status quo and run for office. They've climbed under every rock and sunk to every low in trying to find a way to force Trump out. Yet, despite everything they do, Trump's numbers keep rising and the crowds keep growing.

Now it appears the latest effort is to trot out the big bogeyman, who appears to a woman in the person of Hillary Clinton. Unless conservative voters come to their senses, Hillary Clinton will be the next US President. As proof, they display (edited) poll numbers as proof that this or that candidate is the only one capable of stopping the Clinton juggernaut (sorry Bernie, the Establishment Democrats have already thrown you to the Blue (wolf) Democrats). I have to confess, I never seen so many so scared of one candidate as they are of Donald Trump. Not even in Obama's second campaign for president was there so much fear and desperation envisioned as a Republican nominee named Donald Trump!

It has not been my intent to promote Donald Trump or Trump's campaign to become the Republican nominee. In fact, like the majority of Americans, I'm an Independent and thus can't vote in a partisan primary. However, I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. Her actions, especially regarding Benghazi and it's still unfolding aftermath, should earn her a trip to the "Big House" and not to the White House.
If nothing else, her actions and demeanor says a lot about her character, and that alone should disqualify her for the Office of President or any other political or politically related position. As for "The Donald", I don't know if he would make a good president or not. Much of what he says is simply impractical, even as a president. If elected, he will quickly discover that being president of a corporation where, with a snap of his fingers, he can get things done or fire them, is not the same as being President of the United States, where so much is outside of their control or ability to respond; where corporate special interests dictates much of what happens and what doesn't happen. Still, after eight years of George W Bush, where people said it couldn't get any worse, and nearly eight years where we found out just how wrong we could be, Donald Trump just may the relief we need.

Are Donald Trump's poll numbers understated?

The mind blowing turnaround in Donald Trump's poll numbers

Donald Trump's six biggest gaffes of the presidential far

Fact-checking Donald Trump's presidential campaign kickoff

Donald Trump says the darndest things

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