Donald Trump: An Unlikely Politician
Note: This article is not an endorsement of Donald Trump.
For several years, the political pendulum has been swinging toward the conservatives. First the GOP won a majority in the House of Representatives, and then it won the majority in the Senate. If the trend continues we will have a Republican President soon. Since Donald Trump has the inside track to the White House right now, it may be prudent for us to gain a better understanding of the impact he may have on our nation and the world. This message is about how Trump doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional politician and how this reality impacts the way in which we perceive him.
The first thing a politician learns is that their success is dependent upon their popularity. Popularity equates to votes and without votes, a political career is short-lived. A politician must attempt to gain the support of as many voters as possible while alienating as few as possible. That means a politician, if he is wise, must learn how to guard his words carefully, or risk losing the support of voters. The term political correctness came into being to describe the careful way in which politicians speak, so as to offend as few people as possible. And it’s the way in which he speaks that most strongly suggests Trump doesn’t fit the mold of a politician.
It’s clear that Trump doesn’t see himself as a politician. He sees himself as a businessman. Because he doesn’t see himself as a politician, he isn’t interested in gaining popularity. And because he hasn’t been taught to value popularity—he isn’t afraid of offending people. Because he isn’t afraid of offending people, he says whatever he pleases. The difference between the way Trump and a politician speak can be seen in what they say on the campaign trail.
The politicians who are running against Trump have boasted about their state’s low employment and the bills they’ve sponsored in congress. But Trump has no political accomplishments to speak of. Success for him has always been measured by how many business deals he closes a month. The closest he’s come to achieving any political success is his growing margin of support over his competitors in the weekly polls (which may be why he rubs their noses in the latest polling numbers every chance he gets).
Trump speaks to the issues that are important to him, even if those issues aren’t always relevant to voters. He’s learning which issues are important to voters and which aren’t. Sometimes he stumbles upon a subject no one cares about, but more often than not—he hits pay dirt. He has a knack for speaking to the issues voters care about. And when Trump speaks, he speaks his mind—regardless of how many people may be offended by what he says.
A politician would never say the things Trump says publicly—even though he may think them to be true—because he knows voters would be offended by them. And a politician can’t afford to offend voters. Many politicians who have rebuked Trump for what they called a foolish idea at the time, came to embrace a nearly identical position a month or so later. Many politicians actually agree with Trump’s thinking privately, though they won’t admit it publicly because they fear losing the support of voters. It’s only after one of Trump’s ideas becomes the consensus that politicians feel safe endorsing it. And by then, it’s no longer seen as one of his ideas.
So the most popular candidate for President right now is a man who is clueless about how a political candidate is supposed to act. Is it any wonder his remarks have the world in a tizzy?
I’m not half as surprised at Trump’s popularity as I am at the fact that the media and his opponents still haven’t figured out why he’s so popular and why their attempts to ruin him have failed.
Politicians say one thing publicly, but they often hold different views, privately. The most effective way to destroy a candidate’s campaign is to bring their most controversial statements out into the open. Expose their private conversations and let the public know what they really think. Once voters get wind of it, their campaign is sunk. That’s how it is usually done, but that tactic can’t work against a man like Trump, because no one told him he was supposed to keep his private thoughts to himself. Every time a reporter shoves a microphone in his face, he says something outlandish, because he doesn’t know any better. You can’t dig up any dirt on Trump because he gives it to CNN by the truckload. Trump’s been blabbing every idea that enters his head for months now, without giving any thought to how it might affect his popularity. It’s been driving his opponents crazy, but it’s had a different effect on a large number of voters.
Trump’s supporters have said that the one thing they most appreciate about him is his frankness. They find his transparency refreshing, even if they find some of his remarks to be crass and insensitive. For those who have grown tired of hearing whitewashed speeches, Trump’s unvarnished ramblings carry an air of sincerity. Whatever he thinks, he says, whether it infuriates voters or not. One thing you can’t accuse him of is deceptiveness. With Trump—what you see is what you get. People may not like what he says, but they believe he’s saying what he honestly thinks.
Voters (at least Republican ones) seem to have developed a preference for transparency over political correctness. Rather than support a candidate who makes idealistic promises, they seem to want someone who is willing to tell it like it is. In focus groups, people have said they find Trump to be the most believable candidate. What the politicians fail to understand is that voters no longer believe what they have to say. They’ve lost their credibility. As politically incorrect as he is—Trump’s strong suit is that people actually believe him, even if they don’t find him to be very likable.
During the last debate, Trump admitted that he’s a political rookie. He said he’s learned a lot from the other candidates during the campaign and he’s trying to learn what it takes to transition from being a businessman to being a presidential candidate. The irony is that Trump is now cast in the role of the apprentice. It’s hard to imagine someone in their mid-sixties starting a new political career, but that’s the reality we’re dealing with. Just like anyone else beginning a new career, Trump’s growth as a politician is going to require a lot of patience from us, especially if he makes it to the White House. But this time it will be the voters who decide if the apprentice is fired or if he moves forward. If he does win the election, his term in office will probably be like nothing we’ve ever seen. So if you haven’t yet, you may want to ask God how you can best pray into that.