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The Political Half-Life of Donald Trump

Updated on September 23, 2015
20K Crowd in Dallas, Tx
20K Crowd in Dallas, Tx

The Political Half-Life of Donald Trump

After predicting the demise of Donald Trump multiple times, the political pundits have begun to cautiously regard him as an inevitability – at least for now. They still see the likely end of the phenomenon of “The Donald” just around the corner. Just give the low information, and by implication the low brow voter enough time, they calculate, and they will eventually see through the thin veneer of a lack of serious policy content from a blustering, vitriolic and downright xenophobic Mr. Trump. But the media and the political analysts are now prepared, largely out of fear of getting it wrong again, to recognize the Republican Party crasher into the banquet room of serious political discourse. No longer is Trump relegated to the entertainment section of the Huffington Post or described as a bloviating ignoramus as found at your local bar by the likes of George Will and Charles Krauthammer.


Meygan Kelly
Meygan Kelly
Hugh Hewitt
Hugh Hewitt

Politically Incorrect

As if we needed a reminder, the campaign of Donald Trump has been written off successively after each of his unfiltered attention grabbing statements on illegal immigration, on the hero status of John McCain, on apparent mishandling of a question in the first debate by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly about misogynistic treatment of women, on lack of knowledge of the leaders of Islamic terrorism around the world in Hugh Hewitt’s interview, and most recently his apathetic response to an attendee stating at a rally that President Obama is Muslim. On each of these occasions, the media challenged themselves to find new adjectives like imploding, collapsing, fading and ending to describe how Trump’s obviously ill-conceived campaign had committed political suicide. And it’s no wonder as, with few exceptions, the Washington establishment has had a long uninterrupted reign with the American public of deciding whom will be their next candidate. Any outside challenger not anointed by the big money donors is quickly attacked and marginalized by drying up funding sources and promoting negative campaigns in support of opposition candidates.


Ingraham, Rush, Hannity, Levin
Ingraham, Rush, Hannity, Levin

Jab in Political Eye of Washington Elites

But if there is a willingness on the part of the mainstream media to help bring a hasty end to Trump’s campaign, there is an equal willingness by the conservative media, particularly talk radio such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, to articulate the hypocrisy of political correctness in the vilification of Trump. And the conservative voting base so far is willing to stand by their man no matter what. They see in Trump the warranted and long overdue jab in the political eye of a complicit establishment Republican cabal that mounted an ineffective presidential campaign in 2008 and 2012 against a junior Illinois senator named Barak Obama. Conservatives see Trump’s rise as the inevitable result of the Republican Party’s unwillingness to act, with a majority in Congress, to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood, and to block illegal immigration, raising of spending limits and the Iran nuclear deal. Trump is a manifestation of the disregard by the intellectual Washington insiders that no longer bother to even pay lip service to the desires of the conservative base that brought them to power. In short, the entrenched Washington establishment is the sickness and the campaign of Donald Trump is the cure.


Mainstream Media Missing the Point

Once you understand this simple premise, you can then begin to explain what the entire mainstream media and Washington establishment seemingly cannot - the American people no longer trust Washington to fix the economy, social security, healthcare and the national deficit. No longer will they elect candidates that act independent of their base. The conservative base is looking for someone to represent them to get the job done and address their concerns seriously. The mainstream media should therefore take note - they care little about political correctness. In fact, many middle class Americans, whites, evangelicals, veterans and even the poor working class feel largely ignored by their elected representatives whom worry more about protecting the rights of legal and illegal immigrants and minority activist groups. Thus, network media demands for apologizes from Trump for making unfiltered statements about immigration only result in an increase in his popularity. And the mainstream media's attempts to punish Trump with public condemnation and boycott of his businesses and Trump’s defiant doubling-down on his original statements results in even more support. The Republication establishment should equally take note – the conservative base cares little about Trump’s lack of experience in government or even his lack of a track record of conservatism - far from it. Time again, we find attacks by establishment candidates and Washington think-tank political pundits analyzing criticizing Trump’s track record in the management of his business, his contradictory statements on political positions, his lack of foreign policy experience and his lack of detailed policy prescriptions for domestic affairs. Accusations of Trump not being a true conservative have been followed by calls for him to withdraw from the Republican Party. Of course, this is only after Trump has pledged to not run as a third party candidate. These criticisms are going nowhere and off handedly dismissing Trump is a mistake.


Trump Viewed as Best Hope by Ignored Electorate

The factors that have catapulted Mr. Trump into the lead are the direct result of these anti-establishment positions. Mr. Trump is viewed as the successful Washington outsider with no direct involvement in the perceived failures of government. Mr. Trump addresses and represents the ignored electorate and talks about making America great. And Mr. Trump is certainly unique. He is the only one that is not supported by special interest super PAC’s and his irreverence and disregard for political correctness makes him the stand out candidate with enough autonomy to change Washington. As a successful builder and business owner, the promise of understanding how to reinvigorate the economy by shrinking government and correcting punitive tax policy is very attractive. Although much has been made of his positions on illegal immigration and birthright citizenship, one could argue that this helped only in the broader context of protecting jobs and demand for higher wages. This isn’t to suggest these things were not a problem however, illegal immigration did not become a focus of attention until Trump raised public awareness of these issues. Ironically, this issue is largely irrelevant in terms of winning the general election. The percentage of Latino vote for the Republican Party has remained largely consistent over the last two election cycles. And according to a recent Gallup poll, about 20% of the general electorate say that immigration is their key issue with 27% of those being Republicans. But Trump’s apparent ownership of this agenda does not guarantee him a win. The underlying issues were, and still remain, to be economic and job related. Healthcare, social security, the deficit and education and national security are also considerations. Trump’s prior celebrity and dominance of the media has helped him maintain his lead effectively squeezing out other would be candidates from media and public debate attention. And with 16 candidates, by commanding most of the media attention, Trump can effectively dominate the lead for some time defying “political gravity.”


Political half-Life of Donald Trump

As the field narrows however, attention to detail becomes more of a factor as the candidates have more time allocated to discussing their policy positions. Mr. Trump, thus far, has seen no need to prepare for debates by researching the issues. While this spontaneity has worked in his favor, as we have seen with the second debate, a solid command of the details and well thought out policy positions helped increase support for Carly Fiorina at the same time drawing support away from Trump. And other candidates are waiting in the sidelines with articulate well developed positions that will more than likely receive attention such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. As outside candidates go, Trump, Fiorina, Carson and Cruz all seem to share a different portion of the electorate as Carson’s increase in polling did not reflect in a decrease in Trump’s numbers. And Cruz has remained consistent at about 6%. This will change as the candidates become more defined.

This all leads to putting Mr. Trump in an uncomfortable position that could finally prove the political establishment correct. His bold, brash, impromptu style requires seemingly ever increasing excitement and audacity and if he is ever viewed as just another regular politician, his base will erode. As the field narrows, he must develop clearly defined positions and have a good command of facts on domestic and foreign affairs. It appears that Mr. Trump is very comfortable in the role of visionary and delegator putting together a team of successful people to advise him. However, it’s not enough to say that he will simply surround himself with knowledgeable people. While this could certainly work, he has to demonstrate his knowledge of the issues while standing next to an effective articulate debater in the primaries and the general election in order to win. While Mr. Trump’s candidacy is as excited, energetic and unstable as radioactive uranium, if he remains on the same course he is today with no deviation, it’s with almost certainty that his popularity will decay at a steady predictable rate after each successive debate leading to the inevitable question - what is the political half-life of Donald Trump.

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    • Kelly wallace profile image
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      Kelly Wallace 16 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Well put. It's alarming how many young Americans are in favor of the kind of large confiscatory government as proposed by Bernie Sanders. That tells me that this new generation has not prospered in the Obama economy and are looking for other solutions that include free government hand outs. They are unaware this is at the cost of personal freedom and large tax burdens that will mortgage everyone's future. Our colleges and universities are not promoting capitalism so it's no wonder. We're raising a wave of leftists that dint understand economics and incentives to work hard and produce. The are apparently unaware they free market capitalism has done more to lift people out of poverty around the world than and ideas of socialism ever enacted.

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 16 months ago from Florida

      You were ALMOST spot on... let me quote and correct:

      "Trump is a manifestation of the disregard by the intellectual Washington insiders that no longer bother to even pay lip service to the desires of [Working Americans] that brought them to power. In short, the entrenched Washington establishment is the sickness and the campaign of Donald Trump is the cure."

      Obama is not responsible for all our woes, but he worked diligently to restrain, restrict, diminish and dilute the American economy, military, and our standing with the world... he did this because he believes the world would be a better place if America was no more powerful than any other nation.

      That is KEY to understanding the last seven years, what Obama truly believes, why he went on an apology tour, why he pushed the laws and executive orders he has.

      Whether you agree or disagree with his favorable outlook on Islam and how he's worked to incorporate it into our country, whether you agree or not with his allowing the southern border to be open to anyone crossing it... the fact is he has done these things, and much more, and they will have an impact not just on our society, but our economy.

      Obama and Washington at large barely kept this country afloat by more than doubling our National Debt to over 20 Trillion dollars... and now the credit card is maxed out, the bill is coming due, and if we don't have the strongest of leaders, the most brilliant business minds and an America-first President running the show, we will live through a recession the likes of which will make 2007 look mild in comparison.

      Trump is an America first type of guy, a Nationalist not Globalist, an International businessman, a billionaire who can't be bought off like all these lifer politicians who are owned by their backers... and who do not represent the people who put them in office.

      Trump is not in this for any other reason than to make America great again for Americans. This may be at the expense of what's best for Mexico, or China, or the Middle East. That's really what it all comes down to in this election... do Americans want a better future and better economy, or are they ready to fade into history as we become the next Greece.

    • Kelly wallace profile image
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      Kelly Wallace 24 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      If you caught the 60 minutes interview, which he handled well, you see comments about his lack of specifics again. How are you going to pay for and build a massive wall? How are you going to rebuild the military? Answer: just do it. We know he's a builder and that we give millions to Mexico in welfare that we could hold back to pay for the wall but he didn't go into that. We know that 19% of our GNP goes to military and we just lack the will or leadership to rebuild our military and he didn't go into that either. He needs to get more specific.

    • RJ Schwartz profile image

      Ralph Schwartz 24 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

      Now Trump again leads with a tax plan that will stimulate American business - still the establishment picks holes in every thing he does.

    • DawnMSamora profile image

      DawnM Samora 2 years ago from Akron, Ohio

      Hi Kelly

      I laughed when I found out he was going to run for President. I assumed he was using his money to gain more power as President. Then I thought; Why shouldn't he use his money and power to become President, if it will do the U.S. good. The more I read about him and watch him the more brilliant I believe he is. He is a businessman and seems to get things done and gets what he wants. I think if elected, he probably will make the changes we need and not just talk about them.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 2 years ago from New Jersey

      Trump is certainly something nobody expected. I agree, his business acumen and ability to ignore political correctness may be working in his favor. If he studies up on the issues, as you suggest, and stops picking immature fights with the other candidates, he may make it. A small percentage of the population votes now anyway. He kids Jeb Bush about having "low energy", but the U.S. has it too, when it comes to Presidential elections.

    • Kelly wallace profile image
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      Kelly Wallace 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Couldn't agree more RJ. Let's just hope he gets the message and gets serious with researching the topics. Everything else is in place for him.

    • RJ Schwartz profile image

      Ralph Schwartz 2 years ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

      I must raise the fact that Mr. Trump has issued two policy documents with one being a detailed immigration plan and the second a commitment to upholding the 2nd Amendment. I find it fascinating that the "issues" that seem to be so important to the Washington elite are less important to the American electorate in general and some things actually will take care of themselves de facto. A wall will reduce illegal immigration, a strong Army and veterans support group will go a long way in securing longstanding security concerns, and real leadership will energize the whole nation. I think America see's Mr. Trump as someone who will clean up the bureaucracy and "fire" the dead weight bringing down our nation. If he can continue to keep the support of the masses, then his half life may be 4 years from now...

    • Kelly wallace profile image
      Author

      Kelly Wallace 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Nicely worded bradmaster

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      Kelly

      Apply your half life theory to the rest of the candidates of both parties, and then compare the results that we have had in the last one hundred years following the loyal party voting.

      Neither party has a solution, as evidenced by their dismal record in history over the last one hundred years. The existing political process has turned congress into a political gridlock machine, and an old folks home for the elected.

      The voters have shown no inkling of intelligence in the voting, and those that were elected by that process are evidence of their voting failures.

      Let Donald Trump rise and fall on his own, and people shouldn't rely on the media to predict the future of Donald Trump.

    • Kelly wallace profile image
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      Kelly Wallace 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Thanks for the reply. Yes, he still has political capital . He should just be aware that he needs to study the issues and no "phone it in" anymore.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Unfortunately, there is a new poll out in Iowa that showed Trump's numbers stabilizing and might increase in the next poll. He will be with us way into 2016.

    • profile image

      Kara 2 years ago

      Word