Monday, December 28, 2015

Is a Donald Trump Presidency Possible?

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz
I have to admit that the numbers continue to shock me. According to recent polling data reported by Real Clear Politics, Donald Trump has a commanding lead over his Republican opponents with a combined polling number of 36.5 percent of the Republican vote. (…and an astonishing 41 percent according to one poll!) His closest rival, Ted Cruz has 17.8 percent of the vote. Marco Rubio comes in 3rd  with 11.3 percent.

As I said in a recent post, I don’t think those numbers will hold when the caucuses and primaries begin. Even in the event that Trump does win one or two of them, he will not win all of them. Or even most of them. At least I hope not. Because if he does and becomes the Republican nominee, he will get trounced in the general election. Hillary Clinton will be our next President and it could very well mean the end of the Republican Party as we know it.

On the outside and remotest of chances that he would somehow win the Presidency - would he be the unmitigated disaster that the conventional wisdom says he would be? Will this be the end of the United States of America? Will America be Trumped? I’m not so sure about that. I used to think so based on what I’ve seen of him so far. But after thinking about it some more, I don’t think it will be the end of the United States. My guess is that his campaign rhetoric is just that. Rhetoric designed to get attention.

In the America we live today, attentions seem to equal votes. He is a master at getting attention. That should be obvious to everyone. But he will probably govern using the best advice he can get from real experts that have his political perspectives... which will have nothing to do with his rhetoric. Both domestically and in foreign policy.  

With respect to dealing with ISIS  he will seek the advice of the best military experts he can find that share his perspectives.  Whatever one says about Trump, he is not a fool. He just sounds like one. (I can just hear my critics saying, ‘ What? Are you nuts? Have you lost all your marbles? Foreign countries - including Israel - are already shunning him. A Trump Presidency would be a bigoted Presidency that would alienate the entire world and destroy the country!  Well, I don’t think it would. He would rise to the occasion. And foreign countries need us too much to boycott us. But he’s not going to be President anyway.)

What about all that hateful rhetoric? And it is hateful. He has disparaged just about everyone. One would think that doing this would by now have eliminated him from anyone’s consideration. Calling respected female journalists bimbos; jokes about Jewish wealth (which appeal to the negative antisemitic stereotype that Jewish money controls everything); accusations that the vast majority of illegal immigrants from Mexico are rapists, thieves and murderers; saying that all Muslims be barred from entering this country as possible terrorists, truly disgusting comments about female candidates, primarily Mrs. Clinton… would in most cases have labeled anyone that made them a racist, sexist, bigot.  But in Trump’s case, it only seemed to increase his popularity. He has been called the ‘Teflon candidate’ because nothing sticks to him.

Is it possible that all of his supporters agree with him? That as many as 41% of Republican voters are racist, misogynist, sexist, bigots? I don’t think so. Because I don’t think Trump is any of those things. If for example he was an antisemite, he would not have the very close personal and professional relationship he has with his own daughter, who has converted to Judaism and is now Shomer Shabbos. Nor has he ever been accused of antisemitism, racism, sexism, or any kind of bigotry in his business or personal life. If one is truly any of those things, it would have come out long before now. Especially someone as high profile as Trump. He says all those things to get attention.

But still, why does he have so much support? How can anyone support someone that says these kinds of things even if he doesn’t really mean them the way they sound? This is something that seems to be overlooked by all of his critics. He is appealing to something that other candidates are not.

If one cuts through all the negative – even appalling rhetoric one might be able to understand what that is. Donald Trump is the quintessential anti establishment candidate. A lot of voters are just plain sick of politics as usual and the kind of fuzzy politically correct comments made by establishment candidates about the issues of the day. One of the most serious of which is the fear of being attacked by Islamist terrorists.

A lot of people are afraid of Muslims. Not because any given one of them deserve it. But because of what they see almost constantly in all the news media: Islamic terrorism being perpetrated in a variety of freighting ways. 

They see innocent Americans beheaded. They see even Muslims being shot into mass graves by ISIS. They see Islamic radical terrorists attacking soft targets in major European cities like Paris - murdering many innocent victims and injuring many more.  They see an Islamic couple pledging loyalty to Islam, yelling ‘God is great’ in Arabic and then go on a shooting spree in San Bernardino killing many innocent Americans. They see a Muslim army major in the US army shooting and murdering fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. They see two Muslim brothers setting off pressure cooker bombs in Boston - murdering and maiming many people there. 

And they see an American administration that does little about it, while saying that Islam is a religion of peace, denying any connection of those terrorists to Islam in a ‘No true Scotsman’ like statement!

It almost doesn’t matter whose plan to deal with these people is better. If one looks at the policy suggestions of the other candidates and analyzes them carefully, they might see more reasonable and realistic options than Trump’s. But his supporters don’t look at those details. They see a man unafraid to say nasty things about the people Americans are afraid of. And they therefore ignore all the other nasty rhetoric about other candidates. 

They see a man with a record of success in business. A man that seems to mean what he says and will do what he says. Unlike most politicians that say one thing to get elected and then do another the day after.  They want a leader that is going to stick it to our enemies and isn’t afraid to say the kinds of things – right or wrong - that many people are thinking in the deepest recesses of their minds. Fear is the greatest of motivators.

That is what people are worried about most right now. Not the economy. Why not pick a winner like Trump to fix things? Or at least make it known to the the other candidates that this is the kind of no nonsense leadership they are looking for. It doesn’t matter to them what political pundits say about him. Or what he says about others.

Will they vote for him in the privacy of a voting booth? My feeling is that when it comes to an actual vote where it counts, they will vote for a safer and saner candidate. Probably one that closely shares Trumps attitudes. Like Ted Cruz. Some polls already have Cruz winning in the Iowa caucuses.

Does that mean that Cruz is the next nominee? I don’t know. But my money is still on Rubio. Once the dust settles and Trump is out of the picture, Rubio becomes the more attractive candidate of the two. He is by far more knowledgeable in foreign policy by virtue of being on the senate foreign relations committee. His attitude on Immigration reform is also much more realistic. And his credentials on supporting Israel are among the most impeccable in the senate. 

My hope is that Republican voters will see that in the primaries and that the American voter will see that in the general election. I think he has the best chance of beating Mrs. Clinton… and will make a far better President.