The National Review’s “outing” of Donald Trump as something other than a conservative raises the fascinating questions of who are the Trump voters and why do they support him?
The Donald’s supporters within the Republican Party seem to come from two disparate groups. Most of his backers are white working-class people who are happy with the party’s general direction (i.e. advocacy for lower taxes, smaller government, and cultural conservatism) but in disagreement with the GOP establishment on specific issues, such as immigration and free trade.
The Strange Centrist Love Affair with Donald Trump
Yet there is another group among the party’s leadership that is far more interesting, moderate (or rather centrist) Republicans; basically, the old country club set that would like to take the party back to what it was under Dwight D. Eisenhower.
These people have been looking for a savior that will drive all the Bible thumpers and pot-smoking libertarians out of their party and take it back to the 1950s. Some of them are also part of the old Eastern GOP establishment that would like to see Wall Street back in charge of the party.
This explains the strange infatuation of centrist figures like U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas with Trump. Such moderates think that they can use Trump to take back their party.
An even odder love affair with Trump is developing among some of the neo-isolationists centered around Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative. They see Trump as some sort of hero who is being attacked by the big bad conservative establishment for opposing the war in Iraq. At least one of them, Scott McConnell, is trying to portray the Donald as the second coming of General Eisenhower.
The centrist love affair with Trump exposes one of his few strengths, his political opportunism, which makes it easy for people to see him as something he is not. Much of the Trump hero worship seems to be driven by the secret desire that he is one of us – whoever we are. That appeals strongly to aging and embattled minorities, such as working class whites and moderate or liberal Republicans.
Trump’s Biggest Supporters: the Media
Yet these supporters do not explain Donald’s popularity or high profile. Those attributes are the creation of Trump’s biggest and most important group of supporters – journalists.
I cannot recall a Presidential candidate who was given a more hands-off treatment by the media. There has been virtually no serious reporting on Trump or investigative journalism. The so-called media criticism of the man has consisted of reporters saying: “Trump said something offensive today.” Such soundbite journalism actually promotes Trump and makes him look like a sort of hero to certain elements.
It’s also rather hypocritical the same media that seems obsessed with Hillary’s emails and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) birth certificate ignores far greater and well-known scandals with Trump. The numerous business dealings with well-known Mafia figures, for example, his association with the Trump University scam, and corruption investigations raise serious questions about Trump’s character. The four bankruptcies arising from Donald’s epic failures in the casino business expose Trump’s reputation as a business genius as a shoddy lie.
These stories are well known and easy to uncover with a simple Google search, yet the media ignores them. Even the most fearless of American journalistic outlets the supermarket tabloids have steered clear of Donald’s past. Instead, the tabloids are currently dedicated to smearing the reputation of deceased celebrities such as David Bowie and Richard Burton.
Why is the Media Backing Donald?
Naturally, many people would like to know why the media is turning a blind eye to Donald Trump’s colorful past. The most likely reason involves eyeballs – at the end of the day, journalism is about eyeballs falling on websites, TV screens, or newspapers. The name “Donald Trump” attracts a lot of eyeballs, which brings in a lot of advertising revenue.
Journalists, like everybody else, like to eat and to pay bills. Donald helps a lot of journalists pay a lot of bills so they tolerate his antics and refuse to destroy him. Trump also makes journalists’ job a lot easier because they do not have to explain who he is, like they might with Cruz or U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
Cynical Republicans, of course, will say that the liberals in the media are simply trying to saddle their party with a lousy candidate. That might also be true. If Trump wins the primary and we suddenly see a deluge of stories about his past, such speculations will be proven.
Either way, the whole Trump phenomenon raises serious questions about journalistic ethics. Have reporters crossed the line and started meddling in politics for questionable reasons? It sure looks that way, a state of affairs, which will surely destroy what little credibility the Fourth Estate has left in America.
The Real Donald and why he will lose
There is one crystal-clear aspect of this shoddy chapter in American political history. Both the Trump voters and his enablers in the media are going to end up sadly disillusioned and disappointed when their idol is exposed as a fraud.
When you take away the reality TV glitz, the colorful history, the insensitive bigoted vitriol, and the circus antics from Trump, what do you get? The answer is an aging, white, left-leaning, centrist businessman who is pretending to be a conservative in a desperate ego-driven bid for the White House. In other words, Trump is simply Mitt Romney with bad hair and poor self-control.
That should worry Republicans because the last two such Republican Presidential candidates, Romney in 2012 and McCain in 2008, lost and lost badly. Actually, Republicans have nominated such centrists in four of the last six Presidential races and they lost. The other two were George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Trump’s admirer Bob Dole in 1996.
The only time the GOP won the White House in the last 25 years was when it ran a genuine conservative for President, George W. Bush. He won twice in a country with a Democratic majority, which should be a lesson for Republicans.
At the end of the day, Donald Trump will probably end up proving a quote from the first Republican President:
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”