Ever watch a sporting event with no rooting interest in any team but the behavior of players on one team aggravated you to the point where you started rooting for the other team?
The media is creating that same effect when it comes to political views. A few blogs ago I talked about how non-offensive speech is offensive to some people. I think this phenomenon is partly responsible for Donald Trump’s popularity.
Trump won’t go away and the political elite cannot figure out why. Even more entertaining the tone deaf mainstream media is just as clueless.
Most in the media attribute Trump’s success to “personality over substance” as the New York Times insists. I guess the New York Times knows a thing or two about not having any substance. Anyway, at first they believed his showmanship was a passing fancy. But it didn’t pass. The next iteration was he stoked the fires of nationalism or isolationism with his rhetoric and eventually cooler heads will prevail. His poll numbers indicate the heads have not yet cooled.
In an environment where political correctness is used as a club to silence the masses, Trump is outspoken and disdains political correctness. Most of us – except super Liberals – are fed up with political correctness, partisan rancor, and the complete ineffectiveness of our non-leaders in Washington, DC.
Enter Trump. He is brash, direct, takes no you-know-what and has a reputation for getting things done. In short, he is the antithesis of both political parties. But there is more to it than that. I think Trump’s views span both political parties and his ability to articulate his message is resonating with the masses.
You may not like his style but I bet most Republican primary voters wading through a crowded field of job applicants are happy that someone isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind. He has lasted far longer than I thought he would but I do not think he will sustain his lead once the field narrows. I’ll get to that in bit but first a little history.
In 1976 Donald Warren, a sociologist from Oakland University, coined the phrase MARS which stands for Middle American Radicals.
“MARS are distinct in the depth of their feeling that the middle class has been seriously neglected,” Warren wrote. He went on to say that MARS believe the federal government focuses on the poor and the wealthy but not the middle class. Further, most MARS have a huge distrust of the federal government and big business. I would add to that definition to include a huge mistrust of the media.
George Wallace tapped this group in his independent run in 1968 as did Ross Perot in 1992. Trump pulls from the platforms of both Wallace and Perot, and there’s a sizable audience for this approach.
Trump’s stance on illegal immigration has struck a chord with the middle class mostly because the media force feeds us the narrative of noble immigrants trying to support a family. Trump has promised to renegotiate NAFTA and institute punitive taxes on Chinese imports to “bring our jobs back from China, Mexico and Japan”.
He also proposed a 20 percent tax on businesses that outsource jobs to other countries. And, he supports repealing Obamacare and has a hawkish position on terrorists.
The middle class has a growing antipathy for each of those issues partly fueled by the media’s love affair with championing them. In short, we are sick and tired of the media doing President Obama’s bidding and Trump is our antidote.
Now, when he is competing against 10 other candidates his message resonates with the MARS. However, most estimates have MARS at about 20 percent of the population. In a general election that is not enough to win. It’s not even enough to win a primary with two or three other competitors. Once the choices are narrowed, some of Trump’s negatives will overshadow his positives.
Why? Americans can forgive almost any indiscretion except arrogance. And Trump’s arrogance will wear thin when options are limited. For him to succeed, he needs to expand his base. But in order to expand his base, he’ll have to be less rigid in his ideology and, if he does that, he’ll risk losing the MARS voters.
Of course, there is always the possibility the MARS voters comprise a far larger voting block than 20 percent. If that is true, the political ruling class and media better get used to saying President Trump for four years. And they’ll have no one to blame but themselves for creating the political environment that created the scenario that allowed Trump to win.