Political pundits and media elites (all cut from the same cloth) are wringing their collective hands over the fact that despite Donald Trump’s blow torch rhetoric and overblown (often internally contradictive) promises to deal with America’s major problems, he still leads in the polls and still is garnering a majority of Republican votes and delegates in most states. (Well, not Oregon where the far left holds Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) as the minimum standard in creating the Great Welfare State.)
The political “group think” is understandable. After all this is the way it has always been – well, at least for the last seven decades. Politicians, pundits and media elites are an incestuous lot. It isn’t that they just all attend the same Washington D.C./New York City parties, dine at the same restaurants and are entertained at the same events. It is far deeper than that. Scratch a media elite and you will find a spouse, a paramour, a brother or sister, who is a politician, or, at the very least, a lobbyist paying for a politician. Scratch a lobbyist and you are likely to find a politician or a television “personality.” Scratch a politician and you are likely to find just about anything that makes money from politics.
It is not only important that they all think alike in terms of how politics and government are run – I don’t mean the policies, I mean the process – it is imperative that it doesn’t change. It is the process that has made them rich, made them powerful, made them “indispensable.” It is a process that does not require accomplishments or solutions; it is sufficient to produce a diagram of the problem, propose an eight point, or ten point, or twenty point “plan” for dealing with it. And thereafter these “insiders” can dissect, parse and create imaginary and catastrophic scenarios should government proceed. They can label it racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, misogynistic, theistic, anti-theistic, and the most pungent of all criticisms – “not fair.” And in the end, a “catastrophe” (any proposed solution) has been averted. The underlying problem continues, probably worsens, but the crises attendant to solutions has been averted and the “insiders” are free to once again address the problem secure in the knowledge that they attack the solution – any solution – and preserve their powers, their positions and their incomes for years to come.
When I first started the practice of law in Helena, Montana, my firm represented a wide variety of businesses and business associations. We represented them before administrative agencies and in appeals to the Montana Supreme Court. Every other year we also represented them before the Montana legislature – we lobbied. During that time there was a rather popular push to change state law regulating liquor. A group of lobbyists were hired and the bill was introduced. The resolution to the problem was known, there was a substantial amount of money to be made if the problem was solved, but the problem was finite and the solution to the problem meant that the lobbyists were no longer needed. It also meant that the campaign contributions to the legislators would dwindle. In its first year it received favorable consideration in one house but was killed in the other. The following session, the bill was introduced in the opposite house where it received favorable consideration only to die in the other house. Eventually, after several sessions, the bill was passed. But in the interim the process was protected; well at least for awhile. Montana is a pretty small state population wise and any abuse of the process is usually discerned in short order.
But in the capitol of the United States – with it 350 Million people, most living some distance from the capitol – politicians, lobbyists, pundits and media elites are able to conduct their incestuous “process” pretty much free from scrutiny. It is anonymity by sheer numbers. It is anonymity by virtue of the distractions of every day life to which those they govern must attend. And the process has become so lucrative that it cannot be disrupted by real solutions. After all, if you solved the problems of deficit spending, taxation, welfare, social security and Obamacare, what justification would there be for the army of souls that toil in government and the influence of the government? Or at least those insiders thought so.
All of which brings us back to Donald Trump and his seeming immunity from criticism from those beholden to the process. The multitudes that are governed, while distracted, are not stupid. They realize that today’s problems are the same problems from a decade ago, two decades ago, four decades ago. And they realize that despite all of the members of Congress, all of the thousands of staff members, all of the spending for investigations, reports, studies, all the big talk and accusation by one side against the other, NOTHING gets done.
And it became even more acute when the voters became disenchanted with the policies of President Barack Obama. First, they gave the Republicans control of the House but nothing changed. And then they gave them control of the Senate also but nothing changed. Not only did nothing change but in many instances the Republicans did not even try. They appeared to delight in being against everything the Mr. Obama proposed without doing anything to stop it. In a word they were worthless.
The voters understood. It matters little whether the voters didn’t think the politicians cared to solve the problems or that they did not know how to solve the problems. All they knew is that the problems didn’t get solved and like most problems left unaddressed, they got worse. All those big talkers and not a one with the will or the ability to get anything done.
And that is where Mr. Trump found his contrast. He is big and bold and brash. But more important he is successful. He has built a massive and successful business. It matters little that the politicians who have never built anything point out the instances (and they are few) where Mr. Trump has stumbled. Mr. Trump enjoys the “Ali effect.”
Mohammed Ali, perhaps the best heavy weight boxer ever, used to regularly run his mouth about how good he was, how pretty he was, how fast he was, how badly he was going to beat his opponent – and then he went out and did it. His brashness was forgiven because he was successful. Even when he lost a match to Joe Frazier he remained a crowd favorite and returned to beat Frazier and prove his worth.
And that is the gravitas accorded Mr. Trump by his supporters. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have an eight-point plan, he has solved problems before and he will solve them again. (In fact, most of the people with their eight point plans have never solved anything.) It doesn’t matter if he is called a racist because he wants to seal the border and deport all of those illegally here – the voters know that deporting 14 million illegals is impossible but they recognize that Mr. Trump will actually address the problem and things will get better – materially better. It doesn’t matter that he has suggested that the country ban Muslims from entering the country – they know that he will improve the entry system to minimize rather than ignore the threat of Islamic terrorist acts on our soil. It doesn’t matter that some bean counter has claimed that Mr. Trump’s tax plan will further increase the debt – the voters know that he will simplify the tax system, terminate the intrusion by IRS agents, and stimulate business to invest, create jobs and return jobs that have moved overseas.
The voters don’t care about the particulars. They care about results. About actually trying. About doing the hard work to succeed. And they look around at all of the politicians and they cannot see results or even hardwork. But they can see it in Mr. Trump.
I’m not a particular fan of Donald Trump but I will sure as hell vote for him over Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders, or the multitude of senators who have accomplished nothing in their lives beyond being elected. And if lightening strikes and Mr. Trump is elected, I will watch with glee as he turns Washington, D.C. and its incestuous insiders upside down.