By now, it’s well known that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is unorthodox, especially compared to the candidates he’s running against. It’s also well known that he’s acquired a voter base that un-ironically supports him, despite how initially his intent to run for president seemed like a joke.
Personally, I have yet to come to the conclusion that it isn’t one. Though, I can’t say he’s making more a fool of himself than he is making one of the country. People support him for being ‘honest,’ even if they don’t agree with him. What I have a problem with mainly is not the people who share the views he expresses, but the people who support him in spite of the shortcomings they perceive in him. As if two wrongs, Trump’s statements, and his confidence in them, somehow make him right for the presidency.
Of course, this opinion is assuming Trump is unaware that the opinions he declares on television rarely have a basis in reality. In addition, it assumes that he’s unaware of the way his pride in stating those baseless opinions encourages emotions and divides voters between Trump lovers and Trump haters.
All attempts, either from critics or other candidates to attack his statements are like a bull charging the red flag of a matador. Trump’s words are a diversion, intended to excite fans and rile up his detractors. Those who vote tend not to be the rational and well informed, but the emotional. I’m actually excited to see if voter turnout is affected in any way by the controversy of Trump’s campaign. For the last 10 elections, (besides the one before Obama’s first term) it’s hovered around the low end of the 50-55 percent range.
How is this any different from praising a celebrity for coming out with a public statement of a personal struggle, or a comedian for ‘keeping things real’? The former lowers themselves through their apparent suffering despite fortune and fame. The latter lowers themselves by making themselves seem to be pathetic in comparison to the audience, and easier to laugh at because of it. It’s easy to absorb the story of the underdog from someone more successful than them, because it allows them to project the success of the celebrity as something possible for them, despite their shortcomings. In reality, viewers are still buying into a carefully constructed and publicized persona.
If Donald Trump acted differently on the podium than in the news or on television, no one would vote for him. They’d think him dishonest. But because The Apprentice and the republican debates both depict the same Trump on television, we believe that the one behind the scenes is no different. I don’t like or dislike Trump. I can’t judge him as a person, because the one I see on TV is not one I can bring myself to believe in.
People think that if something is live, or unscripted, it can’t be fiction. That pre-planning has no effect that the speaker is acting natural, and speaking confidently because there is truth behind their words. This is equivalent to saying that, since a football game isn’t choreographed, football players score not due to practice and thorough knowledge of the game, but merely because there is natural talent guiding their actions.
Do people think it takes a millionaire to supposedly speak the truth? What kind of government do they think that they’re a part of, if only the rich can campaign in a way that makes people want to elect them president? Maybe, the truth is the skills that got Trump his financial abundance and business empire are skills applicable to running for POTUS. Who knows, maybe it’s a publicity stunt, a bold move to boost business.
I’m not saying Trump should or shouldn’t be president. Campaigning is a competition, and becoming president isn’t based on merit, it’s a popularity contest. Trump is doing well, and I can’t count him out of the race like others have been quick to do. All I’m trying to emphasize is that Trump’s tactics aren’t honesty, they’re targeted attempts to win the election. So far they’re working, but not for the reasons people may think.