Sounding the Trumpet

Donald Trump, a successful businessman, has been in the public eye for several decades. He is referred to by many as a New York Real Estate billionaire, even though his net-worth is always less than reported. Per Forbes, his net worth as of 2016 is around 4 billion–less than half of what is currently reported and the same amount that he reportedly had back in ’88, but to his credit, he denied he actually knew his net-worth back then. Nevertheless, it’s strange that he never finds out to correct reports. Apparently, prefers to portray to be as rich as possible for power and fame.

What is unique about Trump compared to other billionaires is that he loves public attention. While he may at times deny it, his personal and professional endeavors in the media demonstrate his love for attention! He is always raising the steaks (no pun intended); his participation ranges from WWE to Reality TV shows like the Apprentice and with his latest and ultimate effort, he went all in and ran for president of the United States! He and his supporters will argue that this isn’t a publicity stunt to garner more attention, but that his true motivation is to make, “America great again”. The snag in that argument, is that unless, he had an overnight conversion, his past record doesn’t correspond with his recent campaign rhetoric. In fact, it completely contradicts it. As an example, in 2012, he accused Romney of being too harsh on “immigration” with his talk of deportation and in fact, Romney frequently talked about “bringing more people” in, yet now, to many, he is taking an even stronger stance. Also, early on in campaign, he praised Planned Parenthood and refused to cut federal funds to it, saying it does some “good”. He also spoke about some form of universal healthcare where “everyone” would be covered, yet no specific details of what he means by that. Some argue that he is the ultimate opportunist seizing on a brewing hatred by the American public against an unrepresentative rogue government. This anti-government sentiment started with the Tea Party in 2010 and give rise to hardened conservatives like Ted Cruz who happens to be a direct challenge to Trump in the Republican Primary. Because of all the hatred and exceeding low approval numbers of congress and the president, Trump saw an opportunity for an outsider to be president. He identified the popular issues and formulated his platform accordingly. He gives very little in terms of specifics, but his supporters don’t necessarily mind since he has branded his campaign around the personality of Donald Trump rather than his position on the issues. And his ultimate branding is that only HE can “Make America Great Again”!

Mr. Trump quickly realized that any negative attention from the media throws him off balance and he finds it compelling to quickly attack back either via Twitter or a press conference to mediate any negativity him or the campaign. At multiple times while campaigning, he has joked or maybe in a truthful admission, that he prefers elections to be held, “today” while his poll numbers were in their prime. He seemed to be worn out of negative questions from reporters especially from a specific one named Megyn Kelly. While to the average observer, her questioning may seem to be natural probing of a presidential candidate, on the other hand, he found it to be “unfair” line of questioning and started a smear campaign in the news and on Twitter even to the point where he skipped on several debates because of her. Not to appear as anti-women or afraid of her, he would later make some other excuse like maybe scheduling conflict or unfair reporting by the Fox Network altogether, yet when one does an objective analysis, Trump has been receiving amazingly positive with almost constant coverage from various hosts on Fox like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Susteren show among others.

Trump is a master at branding–obviously the reason he has so many followers even-though he lacks specifics and his language is sometimes divisive. When his followers are ever challenged regarding his inconsistencies and ever-evolving policy, the answer is always, “I don’t care–I just need an outsider to wreak havoc on the system”, However, it never occurs to many of his supporters that Trump is not an outsider at all, but is rather entrenched with the political class within Washington both personally and politically. He even admitted himself in past debate that he knew more people in Washington than his Republican rival, Senator Cruz. He has also admitted numerous times to “giving money to politicians” so that they will “do what I [he] tell thems to do”. Of course, he justifies this as “good business practice” because he’s using the system to his advantage. While his followers easily accept this premise, many find it appalling–especially to the legal minds who find his comment flat out illegal and tantamount to “bribery”. Even if the justification for his actions to donate to many politicians to get what he wants is acceptable, it certainly makes him part of the corrupt system his supporters rail against! They defend him by using his same masterful talking points in using his own weakness as an advantage, claiming that he is the best person to address the corruption in Washington because he used to be part of the corruption on the other side. On face value it sounds like a reasonable argument; however, giving it further thought, one starts thinking, wait a minute! So by his logic, one can make similar argument for hiring a convicted home robber to protect your family/home because he has that experience from working the other side. Or maybe hiring a child molester as a babysitter!? I pointed that out to a few people and have yet to receive a response.

No matter the arguments, it seems that Trump has polarized the political atmosphere more than it was already. Many of his supporters declare, “No one but Trump” and on the contrary, his stanch opponents declare, “Never Trump!” There is no doubt that for a front-runner, he is relatively weak–even weaker than his harsh critic, previous Republican nominee Romney who had sown up the nomination by the same time in 2012 even though he was not popular with the conservatives either. Most likely, the Republican election is headed for a contested convention between Trump and Cruz. Kasich is enjoying the ride, but maybe having a small glimpse of hope that the vast majority of delegates change the rules and vote for him instead of the two leading alternatives.