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Why Trump's Success Makes Sense
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Donald Trump has not been deterred, much to the chagrin of his bipartisan troupe of naysayers. The Donald’s blunt stance on Muslim immigration has only won him popularity among the Republican rank-and-file, not to mention independents and moderate Democrats.
No shortage of smartest-men-and-women-in-the-room are perplexed over this. How can it be that Trump’s breaking all of the rules and then some is working out so well? In essence, the folks at home are going for Trump even though he chucked conventional notions about how major campaigns should, or should not, be run.
A solid answer can’t be found in the words of veteran pundits, partisan operatives’ analyses, or claims made by rival candidates. To earnestly understand why Trump is so engaging, look back to the final presidential debate of the 2012 election.
More often than not, it seemed that President Obama and Mitt Romney were actually in agreement on the issues. As the issues in question pertained mostly to foreign policy, this takes on special significance.
Regardless of who claimed victory on November 6, it appeared the American public could be assured our country would have a leader ready to deal with the most challenging of national security crises. Both Obama and Romney sounded like they had their stuff in order; either could rise to the challenge of a 3:00 a.m. phone call.
It was some Oscar-worthy stuff. The audience lapped it up like turkey on Christmas night.
Another interesting point was that words took a backseat to the manner in which they were delivered. Romney was often vague in his responses to Bob Schieffer’s questions, but sounded presidential all the while.
Obama, meanwhile, explained his views very clearly. Nonetheless, he appeared to be frustrated at times, and allowed his words to become quite emotional. This would not be such a bad thing if said emotion was brought about for the sake of emphasizing an idea.
Unfortunately, he seemed to be directing his feelings at Romney’s statements. Of course, that is telling of desperation. The President’s landslide victory just days later proved such fears unnecessary.
All things considered, I believe Romney won the debate. This is not on account of substance, but style. However, his victory was far from decisive. In fact, it was like winning a contest via technicality, and not a particularly interesting contest at that. Obama, despite his bouts of passion, came off almost indifferent.
It was as if, save select remarks from Romney, he found little worth his time and breezed through the evening as a formality.
Even those interested in politics might have felt that time was wasted on the debate. It had all the urgency of an old infomercial and the captivation of a silent movie without pictures. In short, potential voters were devoid of inspiration. They had the excitement of being made to choose between standard vanilla and French vanilla ice cream.
Trump is a hot fudge sundae in comparison. Some people despise fudge, others prefer it cold, and yet more cannot stand whipped cream, mixed nuts, and maraschino cherries. Still, they cannot help but notice the sundae; especially since only variants of vanilla had been offered for so long. Love sundaes or hate them, folks eagerly discuss having such a radical new choice.
The ice cream parlor’s management hates sundaes because they take longer to make, feature costlier ingredients, and awaken customers to the fact that their options had been severely restricted. Management wants an immediate return to vanilla and is willing to spread lies and rumors about sundaes so the old menu can be restored.
Before long, the customers catch on, and the phenomenon becomes much about sundaes as sleazy business practices.
Trump’s supporters are the consumers, while his foremost detractors constitute management. Take the scenario out of the ice cream parlor and into the political theater, replace purchasing with voting, then substitute campaign promises for sales, inventory costs, and labor. There stands the situation in a nutshell.
Understand it and the Trump surge makes perfect sense.
Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at