Explaining Trump’s Popularity

As The Donald Turns
MONESSEN, PA - JUNE 28: Presumptive Republican candidate for President Donald Trump speaks to guests during a policy speech during a campaign stop at Alumisource on June 28, 2016 in Monessen, Pennsylvania. Trump continued to attack Hillary Clinton while delivering an economic policy speech targeting globalization and free trade. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

“Major cities like New York and Los Angeles produce smarter, more savvy individuals than cities in the Deep South.”
“In order to ease the effects of global warming, a one-child policy must be implemented straight away.”
“If we are to combat terrorism, then racial profiling, specifically targeting young Muslim males, is a must”

Undoubtedly, many of you read the above statements with a mixture of bewilderment and disgust. Yes, the three sentences are, at best, controversial, but the right to speak without censorship or restraint is a fundamental part of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Free speech does not happen in a vacuum. When a prominent fascist speaks, for example, people listen. But, whether you like it or not, everyone has the right to freely express their opinion, and the only time a person should be deprived of this right is when a threat to national security, the preservation of public safety, or the prevention of disorder or crime is likely.

The beauty of free speech lies in the fact that we can have divisive, often very heated, debates with one another, yet still have a beer with the very same people an hour later. Factually questionable views should be expressed and challenged, otherwise nonsense cannot be defeated. In fact, it will probably survive, thrive, or simply fester underground.

But this type of reasoning doesn’t sit well with certain proponents of political correctness. In its infancy, political correctness was created to eradicate repugnant language, thoughts, and behavior. The PC police wanted to obliterate deeply ingrained habits of hatred and exclusion. But, by labeling certain terms “offensive”, “racist”, or “sexist”, and by advocating alternative terms that displayed (or supposedly displayed) more respect for specific groups, the American left unwittingly created a Frankenstein monster.

The antithesis of prudence and morality, assertion and deference, the contentious monster in question is Donald Trump. A controversial statement? Sure. An incorrect statement? Absolutely not.

Just to be clear, for the purpose of this piece, “the left” refers to the juggernaut that transcends the world of politics. This is an entity composed of influential voices, from media journalists to prominent academics, all of whom embrace an innate desire to suppress any political opinions that deviate from their own.

The Trump phenomenon, an occurrence whose cause is in question, has resulted in a wave of editorials and political commentaries lambasting the Republican Party and Fox News. Yes, the GOP displayed extreme cowardice by failing to derail such an opportunistic charlatan. Yes, Fox News inflamed jingoism and xenophobic impulses by providing Trump with a platform to reach more white working-class voters.

While prominent Republicans put Trump in a position to represent the GOP, how did the media mogul gain enough traction to run for president in the first place?

Long before his political ascension, Donald J. Trump socialized with the same elitists that now abhor his very being. Fox and Breitbart were not the first media outlets to promote Trump. No, long before conservatives reluctantly accepted him, the ’80s and ’90s saw lengthy exposés documenting the billionaire feature in Time and Esquire. NBC even offered him his own TV show, for crying out loud.

His pathway to prominence was paved by the champions of liberal decadence, and for this very reason, Trump owes his fame, his riches, his reputation, his omnipresence and his ego to the left. Ascending from the ashes of anonymity, Trump profited from (and because of) his idiocies, a trend that continues to this day.

A showman with a hustler’s ambition and a penchant for beautiful women, Trump, although vulgar, was too irresistible not to exploit. After all, he had provided Manhattan with some beautiful real estate, and “Manhattanites” love their real estate. Not a typical liberal by any means, Trump was clearly a cash cow ready for milking. I apologize if that last sentence conjures up any distasteful images.

Convinced that Hillary’s most hostile antagonist would emerge from somewhere like the Bible Belt, the left failed to see the devil standing on their doorstep. (Come on, guys, he’s been standing there for 30 years.)  Life is sometimes too ironic to understand, and the fact that the left’s worst nightmare is a successful businessman from Fifth Avenue has many scratching their heads in bemusement.

The warnings signs were flashing long before Trump announced his presidential candidacy, though. In 2012, Trump initiated the “birther movement” – a loose affiliation of people all making the claim that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S. After accusing the president of lacking transparency, Trump urged Obama to release his birth certificate. However, instead of distancing themselves from the outspoken tycoon, liberal outlets further embosomed his “idiosyncrasies,” with the Washington Post inviting Trump as their guest to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

The NRA didn’t make Trump the man he is today, and neither did the likes of David Duke or Rush Limbaugh. The Donald is a product of materialism and reckless greed, a culture enslaved to perpetuating delusions of grandeur. Trump didn’t initially appear in magazines advocating guns and Christ. No, Trump is a Condé Nast creation, and the ’80s and ’90s saw his face appear in countless magazines promoting popular culture, fashion, travel destinations, and luxury cars.

As arguably the most contentious figure in world politics, Trump generates impassioned, deeply contentious responses. The human equivalent of  country music; supporters love him, opponents hate him. Despite his recurring, pathologically ingrained tendencies, and revelations of his shady enterprises, loyal supporters stand by him. Adversaries, on the other hand, liken Trump to Adolf Hitler and Mussolini.

Trump’s significance has outgrown the political spectrum, with his media appeal, along with the visceral reactions he ignites, culminating in an unprecedented omnipresence, Unlike Mrs. Clinton, Trump is more than just a contender for political office.

An anomaly of sorts, Trump is an amalgamation of systematic decadence and GOP ignorance. What appeals to his supporters most of all, perhaps, is his eagerness to say what a lot of Americans are thinking but are too afraid to say. An underlying current of xenophobia and bigotry exists in the U.S., and Trump exploits these feelings of disillusionment and vulnerability.  Millions see Trump as the man who wants to “make America great again”, a candidate that’s “one of them”. Many of these people are so captivated by Trump’s charisma that they fail to notice a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a rich elitist masquerading as a hard-working, blue collar American. Trump has tapped into a palpable, paroxysm of rage, taking every opportunity he can to promote himself as a tough guy, a demigod amongst ordinary folk. This retro machismo, like so much of Trump’s campaign, is an act, but Americans are angry, and deeply ingrained anger often overwhelms any principles of logic or reason.

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