“The Donald”, as he is often called, is #1 one in all of the summertime Republican primary polls — and all of the Washington insiders are dumbfounded. The 2016 Republican primary contest was to be like 2012, where the establishment GOP put up their candidate, this time Jeb Bush, and the rest of the field, made up of self-proclaimed conservative purists, wrestled each other for the crumbs. This is how 2012 turned out. Then the candidate of choice was Mitt Romney. Romney stood tall and smiled while everyone else tried to show why they were the best anti-Romney candidate. We all know how that turned out. Romney won the Republican primary and then lost the general election to the weakest sitting president since George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 41).
The establishment has given us some real “winners” over the years: Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. While all fine men, none of them were conservative in their core governing values. And without that your elected official can change their position on any issue, at any time because nothing really anchors them. They just float around looking for the popular choices to make and avoid standing out with any of the controversial ones.
So what of Donald Trump? Why is he popular? First people loved his television show. They liked that in a culture, that for decades has been feminized, here stood a masculine hero that was not afraid to tell celebrities they screwed up — “You’re fired”. Right next to celebrity is leadership. The Apprentice always made Donald Trump the leader, the man in charge. People like that. And so with celebrity and the aura of leadership Trump enters the Presidential race leveraging these two assets.
If The Apprentice taught Trump anything it was how to attract attention and then hold it. Trump has been masterful at making headlines and then controlling the conversation. Fox News loves Trump because he brings in big ratings for the network. Never mind “fair and balacned” when it comes to the other 16 candidates, this is all about ratings (it always is). In some sense Fox News is hoping that Trump will fail because it will be a bigger story than him being #1 in the polls. Media loves to build up and tear down. Fox News is no different. Trump is no different.
But Trump has been masterful to keep the narrative focused on Illegal Immigration and the trade problems with China. Rarely do you hear Trump making headlines in his opposition to Obamacare, to big government bureaucracy or to the President’s deal (and side deal) with Iran. Why? Because in essence Trump is a Kennedy Democrat. Trump is not about limiting government or increasing your liberty. He talks a great conservative game but only on a couple of subjects that have populist backing. People love his brash, no bars approach, like they are watching a reality TV show. But eventually reality will settle win and people will see most of his views are not conservative. Most of his following is not strong. And soon a real conservative will emerge as the leader of the Republican party that can raise up Reagan-like principles to save our nation from an over-spending, gluttonous government.
We need a leader whose values and morals drive his policies, not his personality or popularity.
Trump is a great summertime fling, but when people get serious about who they will wed, let’s hope common sense rises above emotion and we Republicans vote for a real conservative.