Conventional wisdom has it that Donald Trump will eventually go away and a more moderate candidate will step up to consolidate the Republican party.
While this may be true and was certainly the playbook in 2008 and 2012 with McCain and Romney, I think the Donald has the potential to stick around.
He really knows how to attack the establishment candidates from the right, he’s more media savvy than the other Tea Party candidates, and he doesn’t have to play by the rules.
There’s also a few things we could learn from him. No, seriously.
He’s a populist
Don’t laugh. I know it’s funny because he’s a billionaire but he speaks better than any other GOP candidate to the disgust with Washington corruption.
From an interview over the weekend with Eric Bolling:
One of the reasons I think I’m doing so well in the polls is that no one’s going to tell me what to do. I’m not going to have the donors or the special interests and the lobbyists tell me what to do. ‘Cause I don’t need their money. I’m not running with their money. I see every time Jeb is out in the Hamptons raising money, I know all the guys that are giving them money. They don’t give money unless they’re getting something for it.
And yeah, the funny part is that he’s simply cutting out the middle man. Instead of donating to a politician he wants to win, he’s simply running. See also: Mitt Romney and Carly Fiorina.
The difference is that the Donald is actually calling out corruption as an issue.
You laugh, but Ralph Nader has also advocated for billionaire presidents:
If you have a lot of money the media and the polls will cover you. You have a more competitive democracy instead of a two-party duopoly that gets more similar every four years.
Nader simply advocates for billionaire presidents who are “modestly enlightened rich people” and does it out of a complete understanding and frustration with the control of money in the system.
The only thing that enlightens Trump is money.
He destroys Jeb Bush from the right
From the same interview:
Jeb is very, very strong on Common Core. I don’t. I think it’s terrible. I think education should be local. The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and everyplace else, they want to take care of their kids. They don’t want somebody in Washington doing it.
Anyone who has followed the state fights against testing and Common Core knows this is a big populist theme. There’s been tremendous dissatisfaction with recent changes in our education system (from both the right and the left).
I don’t have the same views as Trump, but I’m angry about all the outsourcing of schools, the funding cuts, and the bloated testing contracts to companies like Pearson.
Trump’s wall between Mexico and the U.S., as crazy as it is, also taps a populist theme: outsourcing of jobs. And yeah, it also taps into a whole lot of racism and xenophobia. When the rubber hits the road, Trump doesn’t really care about jobs being outsourced. He just hates Mexicans. But when no one else from the GOP is talking about the problems with NAFTA and jobs being outsourced (outside of Bernie Sanders), he has this populist space largely to himself. Especially in the GOP.
Now I don’t think attacking Jeb from the right is of much interest to us, but again, it’s interesting to see how Trump is doing it. We might be able to reach some of these voters by speaking out against the trade agreements whose primary purpose is lowering pay and benefits.
He destroys Scott Walker on his performance
His state, Wisconsin, has tremendous problems with debt. It’s loaded up to the gills. He’s pouring debt on it. As you know, they wanted to see if they could have some sort of a surplus. It turns out to be a $2.2 billion deficit.
Wow. I couldn’t have said it better. Except to say Scott Walker’s administration projects a $2.2 billion shortfall for the 2015-17 period. Technically, it’s not a deficit. Nevertheless, the $1 billion revenues Walker projected to justify tax cuts never materialized and instead they now project a $2.2 billion shortfall.
Scott Walker can’t win nationally with this story.
As Trump says: “They’re doing very bad economically. I think they’re 36th or 38th as a state, in terms of bad. They’re doing very badly. They’re doing very poor jobs wise and they have a huge deficit.”
Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs. He’s failed to create even half this amount and job growth in Wisconsin at 1.5% in 2015 lags the national average. His Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has also lost track of millions in loans.
He might win Iowa. I don’t think he can possibly win nationwide if the press covers Wisconsin at all. The only way Walker wins in Wisconsin is because he doesn’t face national press.
He writes off Chris Christie on his performance
New Jersey is not doing well.
Trump has little else to say about Christie.
Does anyone else really? I mean other than, do you have a bridge you’d like to block?
Did I mention he’s media savvy?
Trump has over 3.4 million twitter followers. He added 66K this week.
Only Jeb trumps his name recognition
Ok. Apologies for that one. But yeah, Trump has name recognition.
Trump’s only downside is that outside the base bubble, he’s despised
He also might just be doing the party a favor and taking out the clowns for Jeb
The NY Times reports that Bush strategists believe Trump is “nothing short of a godsend”.
The claim goes like this according to Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist:
The longer it goes, the greater the panic is going to build. And that means you may not have the luxury to flirt with an undeveloped, budding candidate. Trump has set the Republican Party on fire, and if you’re going to put that fire out you don’t have time to waste. You’re going to have to grab the biggest blanket you got and throw it, and right now that’s Jeb.
Other Republicans are complaining about the lack of media oxygen.
I think this is a temporary loss of sanity. If you would give some other candidates time from 8 in the morning to 8 at night all day long for three weeks, I’m guessing some other candidates might rise as well.
Hmmm. Rand Paul getting angry that the media is covering someone saying outrageous things. Take away the outrage and Rand Paul is … what?
I think he’s serious though and I think he’s going to give people trouble in the debates
Watch for a surprise performance from Trump in Thursday’s debate. It’s a format that I think suits him well and, as the front runner, he should receive a good deal of coverage.
One thing I take away from Trump’s performance so far is that there’s a real frustration with the corruption in Washington. We see this with Bernie Sanders’ support too. Though that’s about where any comparison between Trump and Bernie ends.
Jeb’s strategists may be happy now. We’ll see if it continues and if the campaign plays out as they hope. Jeb has a serious issue in that people don’t want another Bush.
When you constantly jack up your base by pointing at someone else as the problem (it doesn’t really matter who- gays, blacks, Mexicans, atheists, liberals, “socialists” – the scapegoat du jour) would it be surprising if Trump is here to stay?
|David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution:
A Distributive Strategy for Democracy.