The Dangerous Dichotomy of The Donald


Facebook has a nifty new feature: we can now search for "Friends Who like Donald Trump" and do with that information as we wish.

As I scroll through my newsfeed, I can see that people are using this new feature exactly as intended, by deleting friends who have liked the Republican front-runner, all the while posting accompanying statuses condemning the immense levels of innate stupidity and intolerance that must be present in individuals supporting the real estate mogul.

It is a very comforting thing to be able to completely wave away the opinions of those we disagree with. But does this disregard for Trump supporters do us any good?

Earlier this week, on Super Tuesday, we saw who the clear winners were. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton significantly widened their delegate lead count. In no state save Minnesota did Donald Trump fare worse than second place (and as a Minnesotan, I can admit that we're a bit different. After all, in 1984, we were the only ones who preferred Walter Mondale to Ronald Reagan). At his press conference in Florida, when questioned on whether he is ripping apart the Republican party, Donald Trump pointed out how his supporters come from all walks of life, be they rich or poor, hardened conservative or leaning liberals, staunch GOP supporters or frustrated Democrats who have simply had enough with the status quo. He presented a frightening alternative- he isn't destroying the GOP base. He is expanding it.

A few months ago, I would have written him off as the Kardashian of the political sphere, entering the debate stage for no other reason than to draw attention to himself. After all, this is the same man who spitefully revealed Lindsey Graham's private number in a press conference after the Senator called him a "jackass", implied Megyn Kelly was hormonal after she asked him a series of tough yet fair questions at a debate, ridiculed John McCain's time as a prisoner of war, proposed war crimes as acceptable methods of fighting against suspected terrorists, suggested a complete ban of Muslims entering the US even if they are American, and has proudly boasted on numerous occasions of plans to solve the border crisis by having the government of Mexico pay to build a wall.

But now, as he gains momentum, he seems to be switching gears. The vitriolic anger against minorities, which first caught our attention, has been discarded in favor of less bombastic rhetoric. A self-described "common sense conservative", Donald Trump is daring to do what no other Republican has done thus far: he is defending Planned Parenthood as a provider of health services for women (except in cases where abortion services are offered), condemning George W. Bush's role in the disastrous War in Iraq, analyzing the deal with Iran from an economic rather than ardently pro-Israeli perspective, all in front of a Republican audience. Even Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host notorious for his bigoted comments on a wide range of topics, who has been following Trump closely ever since the businessman rose to the spotlight for his shocking comments on Latinos within the US, noticed the shift in tone, mutely saying that "[Trump]... on a Republican debate stage... [sounded like] a Democrat".

How is it possible that the man who only days ago boastfully shared a dubious, xenophobic story of a US general dipping bullets in pigs' blood to execute Muslim prisoners convincing so many of us to rally around him? How is it that the man who has filed for bankruptcy four times somehow making the claim that he will be the "greatest jobs president that God has ever created"? How is it that the man who has been publicly condemned by the Pope as "not Christian" winning so much support from the Bible Belt?

Americans are frustrated. Bitter gridlock in Washington is not our cup of tea, and now it seems we are ready to ditch the beverage altogether in favor of a stronger flavor.

Trump supporters aren't just run of the mill Republicans chanting "anyone but Hillary". They come from a wide range of backgrounds; some are frustrated by their continuing economic struggles; others are understandably frightened by emerging foreign crises such as the surging ISIL, or the admittedly precarious border situation; some are blue-collar Democrats, sick of their own political leaders; others are habitual Republicans who crave change; some are Latino (when looking at the high Latino vote won by Trump in Nevada); and others, (as evidenced by former KKK leader David Duke's endorsement of Trump), are white supremacists clamoring for an opportunity to expand their reach. One trait all of them seem to share, however, is their exasperation of the current political process. They all yearn for something different. And Donald Trump, a man with literally no political experience is certainly different. But who is he, really? Is he the hardened conservative as he claims? Or is he secretly a liberal with "New York Values", spewing whatever venom necessary to get ahead with no regard for how dangerously that hikes up intolerance levels within our political climate? This dichotomy of Trump's core identity as a political figure is highly unsettling, for the mere fact that we don't truly know what he thinks, and what he would do if in office.

And as evidenced by his news conference on the night of Super Tuesday, as leaders within the Republican Establishment bemoaned his triumphs, Trump is edging closer and closer to achieving this power.

Bernie Sanders, the kindly old Senator from Vermont, only speaks of a political revolution. Donald Trump, unless things change drastically, intends to deliver it.