Donald Trump is running for President. A month ago I laughed at this statement, shook my head at yet another right-wing nutter running for office. He’d be out of the running before you could say Trump Towers. Or four bankruptcies. Or Megyn Kelly. Oh how naive I had been, had I learned nothing from UKIP and Farage? While many laughed off his candidacy as a mere publicity stunt, Donald Trump has steadily been climbing the polls in Iowa and now leads the Republican candidates with a 23 percent support rating.
And for those who spit out, as if it were on a loop, the phrase, “Polls don’t matter.” I say this, it is not whether the polls indicate that Trump will become president that is important, in fact here I would agree that history has proven that doing well in the polls early on guarantee nothing, rather it is what the polls tell us about the public’s response to Trump that interests me the most. As Washington Post political contributor Chris Cillizza notes, Trump has gone from a 60% disapproval rating down to a 33% disapproval rating by Republicans. What does this mean, it means that throughout his barrage of racism, sexism and all the other ‘isms’, bar altruism, he has gained popularity.
Let me be clear, I think it fairly unlikely that Trump will be leader of the United States, I do believe however that he will do far better than most, including myself, would ever have predicted. Because the thing about politicians like Nigel Farage and Trump is that they have an undeniable appeal, a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. This appeals comes from their complete defiance of the golden rules of PR combined with their abject refusal to back down on what they believe to be true. Whether that means standing behind claims that immigrants should not be given access to HIV medication (Farage) or answering accusations of sexism with more sexist comments (Trump), the one thing you can’t accuse either party of is being inconsistent. Factually incorrect on the other hand… by all means go for it, so long as you’re prepared for Trump’s intellectual response. I’d wager it would include the words ‘you’ ‘are’ ‘a’ and ‘dummy’, although knowing Trump’s brainpower they might not necessarily be in that order.
Most people when confronted with members of the Klu Klux Klan donating money to their cause because they agree with their view on immigration would take the hint and maybe reevaluate for a second, not Trump. When asked about it in a rather pandering interview Trump said that he would return the money and I quote, “If it makes you happy,” referring to the member of the press conducting the interview. And it is here that I must, though begrudgingly, give Trump his due because that one little fragment of a sentence has struck him PR gold. How many times has the public become disillusioned with politicians making all the right moves with none of the right convictions? Trump doesn’t grovel to the media, he doesn’t rush to denounce the money, instead he both avoids the political carnage of declining to return the donation whilst simultaneously making it sound as though his actions are only to placate the infant that is the press.
Donald Trump has said some less than savoury things in his time running for president. calling Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’, saying he would date his daughter if she wasn’t his daughter, remarking about John McCain that he preferred his war heroes not to be captured. The list goes on. And on. And on. Trump’s relationship with women has been far from respectful, his first wife has described feeling violated during sex, he told an Apprentice contestant that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees and when questioned during a debate on his various sexist tweets Trump, before implying the journalist was on her period, responded by saying he didn’t have time for political correctness, he was too busy ‘getting things done.’ And the audience went wild, with applause that is. Finally someone who thinks actions speak louder than words.
Because it makes complete sense that someone who is so busy bankrupting his company 4 times, sorry I mean ‘getting things done’, would take time out of their jam-packed schedule to take to Twitter to tell Hillary Clinton if she couldn’t please her husband she wouldn’t please America. It would have been completely irrational for a man working so diligently on fixing his country to have missed the opportunity to pass a couple of minutes reinforcing everyday sexism. Oh wait that’s right, it makes no sense at all.
But through all this Trump has still managed to gain popularity, how significant this popularity will be is beside the point. Because what pains me to say but what I feel that I must, is that people respond to politicians who are authentic. We have learned to distrust the smarmy perfectly rehearsed answers that all sound the same and mean nothing. The tendency of candidates to emulate nearly all movie sequels, promising so much and yet delivering so little. We’ve heard statements not too far off from Trump’s but they’ve usually been splashed across the pages of tabloids as an undercover reporter gets politicians to say what they really feel, not proudly said in the context of press conferences or Twitter accounts.
I truly believe that Trump stands by everything that comes out of his disproportionately large mouth which is not something I think I can say about any other politician. And that is why, and believe me I never thought I’d say this, that is why the US needs more politicians like Trump. No I haven’t gone mad, I’m certainly not talking about someone having the same ideals as him. It would however be refreshing to see a sane human being running for president (were it not for the likes of Bernie Sanders this sentence might end here) who wasn’t willing to play the media’s game. In the meantime perhaps we should take a leaf out of JK Rowling’s book, make as the characters from Harry Potter do and refrain from referring to Trump by name, ‘The Dummy’ should suffice.
Kathleen Falconer ’16