The popularity of Donald Trump in the primaries, thus far, is confounding many in the media.
That said, is it really all that complicated as to why he is winning? The other candidates on his side of the aisle are the slick, untrustworthy caricatures average people historically have complained about, and here we have someone who goes off script, says whatever he wants, and is really adept at attacking the other candidates to the point where they break down and we see their insincerity. He tricks them into revealing their true, ugly selves, by bullying and baiting them – Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush looked as if they were going to cry at points on stage, they were so flustered – and average voters are disgusted by all the insincerity.
Trump – who has been trained by the sleaziest of media people, those who make reality TV – is giving many voters exactly what they want, entertainment. I doubt many of them actually care about policy. They are electing a persona. With Trump, it seems, his persona is who he is – thus he can’t be insincere. He flaunts his bad behavior. To many voters, that appears “honest,” at least compared to the other GOP candidates.
Interestingly, I’ve read that some Trump voters say their second choice is not Ted Cruz or John Kasich, but Bernie Sanders. Ideologically, Sanders and Trump couldn’t be further apart. The only thing they seem to have in common is that they come off as “truth tellers.”
Meanwhile, Sanders, despite his decades in Congress, doesn’t have a million dollars and Trump has many billions, so there must be a major personality difference between the two.
While, if the ultimate election were Sanders vs. Trump, I’d gladly vote for the former, part of me, grudgingly, wishes I had a little bit of that entrepreneurial tenacity Trump has.
On a daily basis with his business, he is pulling the trigger on many decisions – who to hire, who to fire, who to subcontract with, who to stiff, who to grease – without conscience. His only marker of success is his financial ledger at the end of the day.
I have none of that ruthlessness – and maybe a lot of Trump voters like that Vladmir Putin-like style; maybe our country is becoming wishy-washy. Maybe I’m too wishy-washy.
Sometimes I think this newspaper, which has grown slowly and surely, from 16 pages in 2010 to 32 pages today, would be much further along if owned by a Trump.
He’d put his picture on the cover and declare it the best newspaper in America. Scratch that, make that the best paper in the world! He’d go on every talk show that would have him and talk about how exceptional – “Unbelievable!” – the paper is doing. He’d have no conscience when it came to selling advertisements – sex ads, tobacco ads, shady for-profit college ads (Trump University?) – and if campuses protested, he’d hire a team of Manhattan First Amendment lawyers – “The best, I tell you, the best!” – and make anyone who complain’s life a living hell, until they scurry away like a beaten dog.
I’ve always been more of a third-party type person, and worry about the ethical ramifications of everything (and, if you think about it, Sanders is really a third-party-style candidate; just he comes from Vermont, where such thought is mainstream and where he can have an elected job and a base of support).
Trump has no worries about ethical issues, only to the point where, if he goes too far, a bad statement may affect his overall business. For example, if he offends Mexicans, it’s not that he’d regret hurting their feelings; he’d regret that many of his workers may be of Mexican descent and, if unhappy, they could slow down his projects. It’s all practical for him, not moral or ethical.
His style is cold, and unapologetic, but it is good for his business. His best-selling book is “The Art of the Deal,” and some critics call him “The Art of the Steal,” but, if you really think about it, what Trump is all about is compromise – compromising goodwill and ethics for the sake of the business. The business comes first, and gets 100% of his love. No one can say he lacks work ethic or focus when it comes to the business.
So, chances are, we’ll never be rich like Donald Trump. We just don’t have it in us. (Yes, I know, his wealthy father bankrolled him, and we don’t have that advantage, but Trump did expand upon that – to the point of upselling, perhaps, to the most important office in the world. “Truly spectacular,” he’d say.)
We like to balance things. We feel pangs of guilt for no good reason when it comes to making money.
Not Trump. When his head hits the pillow at night, he falls asleep instantly. No pangs of guilt, no remorse, no questions.
He just operates in yes-no mode – there’s never a maybe – and other successful entrepreneurs have similar personalities.
It’s the “maybes” that keep us up at night, that make us weigh our decisions carefully. Trump would say it’s the maybes that hold us back. He’d probably think we are wimps who worry too much.
And much of the electorate is agreeing with him. It’s an interesting point in our history, for sure.
And that’s the last word … for now.
Darren Johnson, publisher, has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing and Literature from Southampton College and is working on a novel. This is a new column. To possibly write a column for Campus News, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.