Are Trump Supporters Like Most Americans?

Trump and ClintonIs there anything Donald Trump can say or do that would hurt him with his devoted supporters who think America is going down the drain and that a political version of Dirty Harry is the only thing that can save us? Is there a line Trump could cross that would cause them to look elsewhere for their knight in shining armor?

Let’s just say that if it was going to happen, it would have happened by now given all the things he’s already said and done and all the lines he’s already crossed. In fact, the more outlandish and outrageous Donald Trump gets, the more his supporters love him.

There was a time when Trump was seen as nothing more than a summer fling, as a romance that would end after the fascination with a billionaire TV star faded. But the so-called experts who thought that’s how it would end for Trump, underestimated – vastly underestimated – the frustration and anger his backers felt … for President Obama … for the media that support him … and mostly for the leaders of their own Republican Party, who they see as pathetically spineless and  weak when it comes to standing up to the president.

For millions of Americans who feel alienated and dispossessed, Donald Trump is the antidote, the no-nonsense, anti-PC  guy who, like them, is as mad as hell and refuses to take it anymore.

Now, even the so-called experts have  come around and acknowledge that Donald Trump not only isn’t going away as they so confidently predicted, but that he may very well win the Republican Party nomination for president.

That’s what a lot of people are hoping — and not just Trump loyalists.  It’s what a lot of Democrats are hoping too — Democrats who want Hillary Clinton to be our next president.  And a recent Quinnipiac poll provides some tantalizing tidbits for the Hillary backers.  A few numbers:

— Of the 12 Democrat and Republican candidates asked about, Trump has the lowest favorability ratings: 35 percent favorable, 57 percent unfavorable.

— 60 percent of independents dislike him

— 69 percent of voters between 18 and 34 years old dislike him

— 84 percent of Latinos don’t like him

— 87 percent of black voters don’t like him

And while voters in the poll found both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to be more untrustworthy than trustworthy, by 67 percent to 32 percent, they thought Mrs. Clinton has “the right kind of experience to be president” while Trump’s numbers were the reverse: 34 percent to 63 percent.

In a head-to-head matchup against Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump comes out the worst of all the top GOP candidates. According to Quinnipiac, he loses to her 47 to 41 percent. Among young voters he loses 52 to 32 percent. He gets only 13 percent of the Latino vote while Mrs. Clinton gets 76 percent.

Things can change, of course. The Quinnipiac poll is only a glimpse of how people feel today. And, yes, other polls have had Trump beating Clinton.  But given his many reckless remarks, it’s going to be tough for Donald Trump to expand his base of true-believers.  And given the many lopsided numbers in this new poll, as of now anyway, it looks like Donald Trump is a net minus for the GOP; that if he wins the Republican Party nomination, Hillary Clinton would be the next President of the United States.

The mistake Trump’s passionate, loyal, frustrated and often angry supporters make is that they believe most Americans think and feel the way they do. Most Americans apparently don’t.




Rush Limbaugh Requests a Silent GOP Majority on Trump

trump2A few years back, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show for a good 30 minutes or so most days while I was on my lunch break from work. Though I was never a devoted fan, I often found myself agreeing with what he had to say. And even when we disagreed, I still typically felt he was making a decent point.

It’s not at all hard to understand why conservatives have flocked to Rush over the years. He’s a pioneer of the modern conservative movement — a highly entertaining, eloquent and unapologetic voice for conservative principles and policies. He’s thrived in a media culture dominated by liberal sensibilities and group-think, and he’s done so by refusing to stay silent and fade into the night when it comes to defending conservatism against those seeking to pervert and dismantle it.

This week, however, Rush seemed to have a starkly different message for both Republican politicians and the conservative faithful (around 70% of them anyway): Just be quiet.

Below is a partial transcript from Tuesday’s airing of The Rush Limbaugh Show.

“You Republicans, you can denounce Trump all day, all week, all month, and the Democrat Party and the media are still gonna say you laid the table for it. You can condemn Trump all you want, but it is not going to buy you any love or respect or admiration from the Drive-By Media and the Democrats. Now, folks, the conventional wisdom is that Trump is scum, that Trump is a reprobate, that Trump is dangerous, that Trump is obscene, Trump’s insane, Trump’s a lunatic, Trump’s dangerous, Trump’s got to go. Why join in with that phrase? Why join that crowd? We never fall in with conventional wisdom here.”

In other words, if you’re a Republican who speaks out against Donald Trump (arguably the least conservative candidate running for the GOP presidential nomination), you’re only doing so because:

  1.  It’s the politically correct, conventional thing to do.
  2.  You need to feel accepted by the mainstream media and the Democratic Party.

So let me get this straight: Those of us on the right, who speak out against a man who mocks American POWs for their capture, only do so because we want people like George Stephanopoulos to respect us? We only condemn a presidential candidate’s menstrual-cycle musings because we’re worried about falling out of the feminist movement’s good graces? When someone mocks a disabled reporter’s disabilities, we don’t object to it out of common decency, but rather because we’re worried about upsetting those in the journalistic profession of which he belongs?

Comparing fellow candidates to child molesters? Portraying World War 2 internment camps as a historically good idea? Proposing American Muslims be forced to register in a national database, and then banning all other Muslims from entering the United States? If you criticize the man who’s putting forth such things, you’re just a lapdog for the mainstream media?

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I’ve always believed that speaking truth to power is an admirable trait…whether it’s done by a politician or regular citizen. I’ve always believed that rejecting political correctness doesn’t mean rejecting your personal ethics.

I’d call Limbaugh’s comments shocking and insulting, but the truth is that nothing surprises me any more when it comes to the bizarre relationship that has formed between the Trump campaign and notable conservative pundits. Big names like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham have gone from long demanding conservative purity within the Republican Party, to routinely defending the classless, big-government candidate who’s as foreign to conservatism as he is humbleness.

I don’t know if this is all the product of cronyism, being that Trump has had longtime relationships with a lot of these pundits. I don’t know if it has to do with ratings. I don’t know if they’re simply enamored by Trump’s celebrity and stage presence — the lightning in a bottle effect, perhaps. What I do know is that these people, when it comes to Trump, have deemed conservatism and integrity to be less important than the massaging of a billionaire’s ego.

The reality is that conservatives like me don’t oppose Trump’s candidacy because we’re hoping to earn the respect of the mainstream media, the Democratic Party, or our liberal neighbors. That notion is so ridiculous, it hurts. We oppose Trump’s candidacy because Trump is making the job of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party painfully easy in this election cycle.

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Trump has become the personification of the cartoon straw man that conservatives have long fought against, which is particularly remarkable considering he’s not even a conservative. His reckless rhetoric, awkward gaffes, and outright fabrications have been a Democratic strategist’s wet dream. The hours of Democratic-ad footage he has provided over the last several months alone would prove lethal to the Republican Party in a general election.

But we’re not supposed to point that out. Limbaugh doesn’t want us to. Hannity doesn’t want us to. Eric Bolling (possibly Trump’s most devout disciple) definitely doesn’t want us to. The majority of the GOP that doesn’t support Trump is supposed to sit back and be quiet, out of fear that our discontent might sound too much like the rhetoric coming out of the Democrats.

I’m sorry, but my country and my family are too important for me to stay silent. I’m sure the old Rush Limbaugh would have agreed.




Donald Trump and His Engineered Crazy Train

Snowtrumper“I believe it is easier for people to survive on this train if they have some level of insanity… You need to maintain a proper balance of anxiety and fear and chaos and horror in order to keep life going. And if we don’t have that, we need to invent it.” ~Minister Wilford

The above is a line from one of my favorite movies of the last few years: Snowpiercer, a post-apocalyptic story of the planet’s last remaining survivors, living aboard a perpetually-moving train in a new ice-age. It might also be the deliberate, defining philosophy behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. At least, that’s the essence of a theory that some have put forth.

For months, a number of Trump admirers have been telling me that the celebrity billionaire’s seemingly unhinged, often offensive conduct is not ― I repeat, not the stamp of an egotistical, overly insecure individual with a screw loose. They insist, instead, that Trump knows exactly what he’s doing. They say he has masterfully used the psychological edge he has over his opponents to dismantle their candidacies, tap into the souls of voters, and draw in electoral support. Several news pundits have made a similar claim.

In other words, Trump’s not crazy… He’s crazy like a fox.

Is it possible they’re right? I’ve rejected the notion from the very beginning of Trump’s candidacy, but seeing as how the loonier the man acts, the stronger he performs in the polls, I’m starting to have second thoughts.

Could it be that mocking American POWs for their capture, musing over female journalists’ menstrual cycles, and comparing opponents to child molesters truly is the mark of an advanced, self-aware mind? After watching Trump’s Iowa speech from Thursday night, I believe it’s time to consider that.

The 95-minute-long speech, which Trump delivered in front of a crowd of roughly 150 people, covered a lot of ground. It touched on some policies and his thoughts on his primary opponents. In case you missed it, here were some of the highlights:

  • In regard to critics that have accused him of not understanding foreign policy, Trump said that he actually knows more about Islamic State terrorists than U.S. generals do. “Believe me,” he added to assure the crowd. He also took credit for predicting 9/11.
  • Regarding immigration, he repeated his policy-point that the Mexican government would pay for a border wall, and he praised himself for raising the issue of “anchor babies,” explaining that the “geniuses” at Harvard Law School have now backed his play. Additionally, he said that when it comes to immigration, Marco Rubio is “weak like a baby”, and that sweat would be pouring off Rubio’s face if he were ever in a poker game.
  • Regarding terrorism, Trump explained that as president, he will “bomb the s—” out of oil fields in Iraq and Syria, and claim that oil for America.
  • Multiple times, Trump marveled at how the attendees positioned on stage behind him were remaining on their feet throughout his speech. Note: they didn’t have chairs.
  • For the second time in two days, Trump cited the phrase “pathological temper” (which Ben Carson had used to describe his younger self in his autobiography) as evidence that Carson was similar to a child molester. His rationale: Child molesters are pathological too.
  • Trump cast doubt on the claims in Carson’s book that he once tried to stab someone with a knife, with the intended victim being spared from injury by the belt buckle he was wearing. In case the audience didn’t fully appreciate the story’s implausibility, Trump stepped out from behind his podium and physically reenacted the scenario, asking if anyone in a crowd had a knife that they would like to try and stab him with.
  • Commenting on Carson’s description of how he turned to religion, Trump said, “He goes into the bathroom for a couple of hours, and he comes out, and now he’s religious. And the people of Iowa believe him. Give me a break. Give me a break. It doesn’t happen that way. It doesn’t happen that way. Don’t be fools, okay?”
  • Trump offered his opinion of people who believe Ben Carson’s account of his life story, asking, “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”
  • Trump also explained about himself, “I’m not polarizing.”

It was quite a speech, described by the Washington Post’s  Jenna Johnson (who was at the event) as an angry, defensive rant. Yet, the rhetoric was really only distinguishable from past Trump statements by its sheer length (95 minutes straight without any time available for questions, which Trump has promised) and it’s cumulative nature. Thus, there must have been some psychological brilliance to it, because Trump, as it has been explained to me time after time, absolutely does not have a screw loose. His mind is stable and he knows what he’s doing.

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Breaking: Presidential candidate Donald Trump endorses John A. Daly’s new novel.

So, I tried to decipher it. I tried to determine how sounding like a bitter, betrayed ex-boyfriend blathering out a drunken toast at his former girlfriend’s wedding, was in fact a cunning display of voter persuasion. After several uncompleted graphs and outlines, I’m embarrassed to say that I was unable to do so.

I was so frustrated with my failed analysis that I nearly returned to my original assessment that people were simply drawn to Donald Trump’s charisma and celebrity, and felt his angry attitude mirrored their angst over the direction of the country. I almost fell back on my long-held belief that the content of what Trump actually says (including the overly-personal trashing of those he perceives as political threats) comes from no psychological prowess at all, and that maybe ― just maybe ― Trump is just one miserable human being. I even considered, again, that his campaign is squarely about himself and his ego, and has little if nothing to do with the best interests of the country.

But of course, that can’t be the case. After all, he’s still leading in the polls. And because I can’t sufficiently explain it, I’m forced to concede that Trump’s strategy of invented insanity is so advanced and psychologically sophisticated, that someone of my clearly primitive intellect couldn’t possibly grasp it.

You win, Dr. Trump. You are a profound genius. The crazy train you’ve masterfully engineered is running right on schedule.




Is Donald Trump’s Ego More Sacred Than 9/11?

Donald Trump 9/11Back in 2009, radio personality Glenn Beck created a national group (perhaps more accurately defined as a movement) called the 9-12 Project. Its purpose was to encourage average citizens to participate in a conscious effort to try and emulate the period of national unity our country experienced in the wake of the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001.

Beck said that he had grown increasingly concerned by the deep division that had taken hold of the American Psyche in the aftermath of a global economic catastrophe and a particularly nasty presidential election. The 9-12 Project was his “pay it forward” idea of making the country a better place through civility and guiding principles, rather than partisanship.

The movement did find some momentum in certain parts of the country, spawning local chapters and even some national rallies, but you don’t hear much about it these days. It kind of fizzled out. Still, I always admired the sentiment behind it.

I remember well the images of George W. Bush rallying the nation through a megaphone at Ground Zero, and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle spontaneously singing “God Bless America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. I remember the American flags that flew from the windows of cars, and leaders who pointed fingers not at each other, but at al-Qaeda — the true enemy of our nation.

You can’t blame a person for wanting to rekindle a sense of national maturity and resolve, especially in today’s trollish political environment where sport is routinely made out of impugning the character of people, and pitting different demographics against each other.  That being said, even among the politicians who shamelessly work to divide us along lines of race, gender, religion, and economic class, there are certain topics that are still treated as sacred. 9/11 is one of them.

That’s not to say that 9/11 hasn’t been politicized over the years. It has…by both Democrats and Republicans, typically in the form of bolstering foreign policy experience or the highlighting of lessons unlearned. But very rarely do we ever hear a candidate or elected official use the attacks themselves as a weapon to inflict damage on a political foe.

The reason for that is simple. Anyone who was of adult-age in 2001 already understands that our country’s pre-9/11 government culture (that spanned at least two administrations) was one of relative complacency in sensitive areas of our national security. We understand that opportunities to capture or kill Osama bin Laden months and years before the attacks were squandered because we didn’t understand the level of death and destruction his terror network was capable of. Simply put, we weren’t on war-footing with an enemy that had declared war on us years earlier, and there’s no one who didn’t realize that fact as we watched skyscrapers crumble to the ground on live television.

Above all, we also understood that America didn’t attack America on 9/11 and murder nearly 3,000 people. Al-Qaeda did that. Osama bin Laden did that. And as a country, we put aside our petty inclinations to vilify each other, and instead united together to seek justice and defend the nation against our common enemy. Even pandering politicians respect that. Even Barack Obama, who has spent years of his presidency blaming his predecessor for practically everything under the sun, has respected it.

Why then, did presidential candidate Donald Trump decide last week to commit political taboo, and needlessly resurrect the pain of 9/11 to infer that George W. Bush was to blame for the attacks? It’s because in this 2016 campaign, there is one highly sensitive topic that is even more sacred than the horrors of 9/11: Donald Trump’s ego.

We can pretend (as many Trump loyalists have) that there was some cogent point being made by Trump in his remarks. We can pretend that he truly took exception with Jeb Bush saying that his brother “kept us safe”, but I don’t think any intellectually honest person believes that explanation. Trump understood, just as everyone else did, that Jeb was referring to the sweeping, consequential steps taken by George W. Bush (and wholeheartedly supported by Congress and the American people) after 9/11, to wage a War on Terror. Those steps prevented follow-up attacks on the United States (that everyone believed were inevitable) from ever materializing on Bush’s watch.

I doubt even Trump would disagree with that, which is why I don’t believe for a second that he has any objections to what Jeb actually said. What he almost certainly objects to is the huge ovation Jeb received (at Donald’s expense) for saying it at the nationally-televised CNN debate.

The incident clearly embarrassed Trump, and if we’ve leaned anything from this campaign, it’s that Trump hates — and I mean HATES — having his ego bruised. It’s what compelled him to mock American POWs for being captured. It’s what began his months-long obsession with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that continues to this day. It’s what drives his insistence that anyone who disagrees with him is “stupid” and “a loser.” And now, it’s what is compelling him to re-litigate a topic as sensitive as 9/11.

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Breaking: Presidential candidate Donald Trump endorses John A. Daly’s new novel.

None of these things have been done in the name of advancing the country or conservative governance, of course. The nourishment of a billionaire’s damaged pride has become the overriding media narrative of this campaign, rather than dueling ideas or records of leadership.  Some would even say its the entire basis for Trump’s candidacy — a thumb in the eye of the pundits who unanimously laughed off the notion of “President Trump” four years ago.

Regardless, we on the right are getting the primary we deserve by joining the liberals in flocking to breathtaking hyperbole and tit-for-tat displays of adolescence instead of serious leaders with serious visions. We have it within our power to change that, but if we’re content with relinquishing our country’s future to the whims of one man’s id, let’s by all means continue down this road.




The Passion of the Trump: Taking People’s Property

Donald TrumpDonald Trump is a man of passion. He’s passionate about real estate, his wealth, his prestigious brand, and of course politics. It’s that passion that has been the driving force behind his infectious presidential campaign, shocking pundits and political observers alike as he continues to maintain a strong lead in the national polls.

When Trump speaks to crowds and reporters, he speaks with conviction, and often uses adjectives like “tremendous” and “huge” to describe both his achievements and his vision for the country. The rhetoric has helped him build a loyal following of supporters whose praise and defense of him have become nothing short of reflexive. Even when the man’s positions stand in direct conflict with the philosophies of those who support him, they have his back…unconditionally. Trump supporters have put a tremendous amount of faith in their guy, and faith is a very powerful instrument in a political campaign. One should never underestimate the power of passion.

In an interview last night on Fox News’ Special Report, Mr. Trump introduced us to another passion of his: the taking of other people’s property.

The topic was eminent domain, the government’s constitutionally-allowed right to override a landowner’s wishes, and confiscate their private property for “public use” in return for “just compensation.”

“I think eminent domain is wonderful,” Trump told interviewer Bret Baier. ”

Trump explained that if developers want to build a public highway or even a private business, using eminent domain to acquire the property from unwilling owners (who he referred to as “hold-outs”) is a good thing. He pointed out that many jobs are created through big construction projects, and if property rights are standing in the way of a big development, eminent domain is warranted:

“I think eminent domain for massive projects, for instance, you’re going to create thousands of jobs, and you have somebody that’s in the way, and you pay that person far more — don’t forget, eminent domain, they get a lot of money, and you need a house in a certain location, because you’re going to build this massive development that’s going to employ thousands of people, or you’re going to build a factory, that without this little house, you can’t build the factory. I think eminent domain is fine.”

As a small government conservative, I found the remarks quite troubling. What struck me, perhaps even more than the words themselves, was the predatory zest with which Trump spoke.

It was clear through Trump’s tone that he truly appreciates the government’s ability to engage in such a practice. He even seems to personally resent private property owners who stand in the way of what he views as progress, or as he calls it “economic development.” He views their objections as selfish and illegitimate because they’re offered, in some cases, much more than the estimated worth of their property. One might suggest that this means Trump only values dollars and cents, and not so much property rights or individual liberty. And by “one” I mean Trump himself, later in the interview:

“Sometimes you have people that want to hold out just for the — most of the time, I will say, I’ve done a lot of outparcels, I call them outparcels. Most of the time, they just want money, okay? It’s very rarely that they say ‘I love my house. I love my house. It’s the greatest thing there.’ Because these people can go buy a house now that’s five times bigger, in a better location, so eminent domain, when it comes to jobs, roads, the public good, I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

The condescending rhetoric wasn’t empty or theoretical, of course. As Trump repeatedly pointed out during the interview, he’s dealt with government entities on eminent domain cases a number of times throughout his prestigious career, and he clearly takes a lot of pride in having come out on the winning end of some (if not most) of those disputes.

In a 2011 piece for the National Review, Robert VerBruggen documented a couple of Trump’s more high-profile trysts with eminent domain. One involved a proposed amusement park in Bridgeport, Connecticut that resulted in five businesses’ land being obtained by the city and sold to Trump. The other involved an elderly widow from Atlantic City who owned property near the Trump Plaza Hotel for three decades.

In short, Trump wanted the widow’s land to use for a park, a parking lot, and a limousine waiting area. He tried to negotiate with her, even offering her $1 million at one point. When she refused to sell, New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority filed a lawsuit against her. She was offered $251,000 and instructed to vacate the premises within 90 days. Luckily, she eventually won her battle in court.

Now, I understand that eminent domain is supported by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. I also understand that the Supreme Court decided in 2005 that the “public use” of property could extend to “private use” as long as more tax revenue was generated by the new property owner. Though it’s most certainly abused (and in my opinion, fundamentally unfair), I’m not questioning the legality of eminent domain.

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Breaking: Presidential candidate Donald Trump endorses John A. Daly’s new novel.

What I am questioning is how self-described small-government conservatives can continue to make the case for a candidate who passionately defends such blatant big-government intrusions into people’s lives. At some point, does supporting universal healthcare, opposing free trade, calling for the expansion of Social Security and Medicare, and now advocating for property confiscation set off some warning signals with Republican voters?

You’d think it would, but so far it hasn’t. Neither has mocking American POWs, for that matter. Perhaps passion truly does trump principle and liberty these days, even among those who frequently tout those tenets as our nation sifts through the rubble of a failed era of Hope and Change. 

I sure hope that’s not the case.