Like many, I was confused by the appeal of Donald Trump. How can someone insult so many people and groups, how can someone be so intellectually ambiguous, how can someone not play by any of the rules and be so far ahead. And let's accept facts he is far, far ahead in the GOP nomination contest.
I still believe The Donald will fall short of the nomination as I wrote in September...clearly my timing was waaayyy off! But it is impossible to deny his appeal to a large, and growing, part of the electorate. Facts are facts, so let's try to understand Trump.
At first I thought his poll numbers were driven by hate. People who wanted the simple solutions of a wall, mass deportations, religious isolationism and Donald to bring jobs back from China. But, thankfully too few of us are that filled with hate or that easily fooled.
You see, Donald's appeal is not hate, it's anger. Although anger leads to hate and hate leads to the dark side... oh, wait, sorry wrong pop cultural context.
It's not anger at any of the groups The Donald seems to take issue with: Muslims, Latinos, African Americans, reporters, Asians, Muslims again, the disabled, women or Iowans. It's anger at one group and one place: Politicians and Washington D.C.
The Donald's appeal is not just that he is not a politician, it goes well beyond that. Carly Fiorina is not a politician. Herman Cain is not a politician. Trump is the exact opposite of a politician. He is brash, he is not politically correct, he doesn't present nuanced thought out policy positions. Every thing he does, no politician would ever do. Ever.
To understand The Donald's polls, look at Congress' approval rating. Trump's supporters know he is a bull in a china shop...but they hate the china shop and think it should be torn down. They know he is unhinged, but they want him to bring chaos to Washington, because nothing else has brought sanity to DC.
Every time he says something outrageous, yes there isn't condemnation. But there is also not full agreement. There is simply the thought that a politician wouldn't say those things so its ok that Trump says them. Listen to the focus groups of Trump supporters. These are mostly thoughtful, decent people. They don't want to ban Muslims and they don't want to deport 11 million people, they are just angry at politicians and they want something different. Anything different has to be better than what we have now.
America, and the GOP base in particular, are done with politics as usual, and who can disagree?
The existing political class is an embarrassment and is holding America back. Why not let Trump get in there and do his thing. By which people believe he will act like a lunatic, brake all the rules, yell at everyone, but in the end come out a winner.
To further prove the point, we can look at the antithesis. Who in the Republican race most represents the political class? Jeb! And despite $100 million, how is Jeb doing?
Note to Jeb, calling Donald unhinged and chaotic only makes him better in the eyes of his supporters.
The strange thing is The Donald should have an even broader appeal. Billionaire businessman and strong presence comes in and cleans up Washington; uses common sense policies to unite us and project U.S. power and strength to the far corners of the world.
Trump would use his business skills and network to bring the best and brightest to the political realm. Legendary technologists, kings of wall street, captains of industry would heed his call, as one of their own took charge and finally got things done for America.
But it won't happen as his act has gone too far at this point. The best and the brightest won't flock to him.
Trump has gone from respected businessman and icon to something very different. He could not be a politician and be brash and confrontational without offending every minority group (read swing voters in the states that will decide the election). If he was Trump but not this Trump, I do think he could win the election.
So, while I do finally understand his appeal, I lament and I am confused. I lament for what he could have been. I am confused because while he has rallied the hate and appealed to the anger, he hasn't set himself up to win. No campaign infrastructure and alienating every swing voter group can not win a general election.
So what has he accomplished? He turned the Trump name from luxury good to an increasingly brand. He has damaged all the work the GOP tried to do to woo minority voters.
I believe he has basically ensured Secretary Clinton will be President of the United States of America.
But maybe that was his plan all along?