Smith: The personification of our political times -- Donald Trump

Smith: The personification of our political times -- Donald Trump

August 24th, 2015 by Robin Smith in Opinion Columns

Donald Trump is the personification of frustrations, criticisms and ill-will that have accumulated over the past decade of political promises.

Photo by Seth Wenig

At his first town hall meeting in Derry, N.H., Donald Trump embraced vocal supporters as "my people," with calls, cheers and claps frequently interrupting the presidential hopeful's remarks.

Interestingly, Donald Trump's "people" are no homogeneous crowd splintered disproportionately from one group or another. The supporters of the billionaire businessman reflect a common trait of the engaged voting public: naked anger born from broken or contrived political promises.

Robin Smith

Robin Smith

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Having garnered double-digit leads in polls in electoral powerhouse states, Trump has caused a lot of frustration, consternation and simple panic among Republicans on a national level, where the focus of raising billions of dollars is to win elections that affect both Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill and legislative chambers across the country.

According to the $10,000-$15,000 per month consultants, a political animal such as Trump should only exist in fiction and in the minds of extreme ideologues. Yet, those same consultants live and thrive in the same D.C. Beltway as the incumbents who are desperate to understand The Donald's continued appeal. And his success should be noted by more than just those on the right side of the political aisle.

The truth is simply that Trump is the personification of all frustrations, criticisms and ill-will that have accumulated over the last decade of political promises made with soaring rhetoric on the campaign trail to persuade swaths of voters. Whether to provide legal immigration and enforce the laws to protect citizens' rights; to reduce the malignant spending of government; to repeal and replace Obamacare or to protect America from terrorist attacks on our own soil, promises are now seen as broken commitments.

Remember February 2009. A group sprang out of the disgust with the billion-dollar bailouts to rescue companies which dangerously risked capital through bad decisions in mortgages and propped up the Detroit auto industry. The tea party was born from distrust and disgust in the mismatched words and deeds of "fiscally conservative Republicans" who refused to block much of the redistribution of wealth in the 2007-2010 window of financial chaos.

Donald Trump is the perfect form to confuse and deflect many who object to his meteoric rise. Trump has proven to be neither Republican nor Democratic in his partisanship. He's willing to change stances on an issue depending on the deal at hand. Trump has no fear of the electorate because he really doesn't need it — in his words, "I'm rich!" Finally, while the angry activists of late have burned down city blocks in "civil" protest, Donald Trump will scorch opponents to a brittle crisp by exposing their politically correct cowardice and their failures across the years of political promises.

It's next to impossible for a traditional candidate to shame a guy who doesn't pretend — for votes or money. While traditional candidates implement a strategy of appealing to the base during a primary, then moving to the political center during a general campaign, Trump has one direction and one gear — forward and full-blast.

Instead of having different messages tailored for the Chamber of Commerce crowd and the back-porch crowd, Donald Trump tells stories and speaks in the generalities of returning America to greatness — no bifurcated messaging (but no specifics either).

Pay attention. The success of Donald Trump, and even the Left's Bernie Sanders, is spawned from the rejection of good-old politics where words have less value than a flea-market trinket. It's time for a new normal in politics.

Robin Smith, a former chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, is owner of Rivers Edge Alliance.

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