The Trump Card: Popularity Over Substance

Guest Post by Chad E. Graham


Reading the news this morning, I discovered that Donald Trump, a Hollywood celebrity and business magnate, is now the 2016 GOP frontrunner. I gave myself a pinch to make sure I was not having a nightmare.

Indeed, Trump is leading and there are several reasons for his rise in the polls. To begin, he receives the media attention of a Hollywood celebrity—because he is one. Trump’s show The Celebrity Apprentice easily translates into “household name” status. When voters engage in polls or arrive at the ballot box, they will vote for the name they know. Right now, many more twenty-somethings know the Trump name over Walker, Rubio, and Paul.

Another reason Trump continues to climb in popularity is the clarity of his message. Oversimplified messages are often easy to sell. Trump’s message is this: He hates the federal government and you should, too! This message resonates with many Republicans who consider themselves “angry” with the federal government. Washington Post political analyst Christopher Ingraham writes:

Surveys show that anger toward the government, particularly among Republicans, has been rising over the course of Obama’s two terms in office. When asked how they felt toward the federal government, 37 percent of Republicans said “angry” in a Washington Post poll from last fall. By contrast, in September 1998, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, only 14 percent of Republicans said they were angry.

Trump appears to be the perfect candidate to lead the charge of Republican rage and outcry into 2016 and beyond. He is a loud, fit-throwing, boisterous stage show that really does want to be rid of American politics. Trump is a surrogate voice for the enraged GOP, while other candidates display reserved temperaments aimed at winning the arduous race to the White House.

I am not yet losing sleep over Trump’s candidacy because I think there is a silver lining to his bombastic circus show. Just as Bernie Sanders is becoming a springboard for Hillary to appear more centrist and bipartisan, other GOP candidates—the few who really are centrist and bipartisan—can use the Trump Show to bring voters back to a vision for America that has hope in reality. GOP candidates should use Trump’s propaganda as an object lesson to teach the constituency about the folly of extremism, debased from a full-bodied political philosophy. It is also my hope that politically conservative Christians do not, in haste, throw support behind Trump because he is an embodiment of anger toward the current administration.

Consider the following quotes taken directly from Trump’s presidential campaign site, on his “About” page:

“Mr. Trump has over 7 million followers on social media. He frequently uses this platform to advocate for Conservative causes, Republican candidates and to educate the public on the failures of the Obama administration.”

“Mr. Trump is the Emmy-nominated star and co-producer of the reality television series, “The Apprentice” which quickly became the number one show on television, making ratings history and receiving rave reviews and world wide attention.”

“During the 2014 political cycle, Mr. Trump was a top contributor and fundraiser for Republican efforts. Mr. Trump also campaigned across the country, with each candidate winning by a record margin.”

“On Saturday, November 11th, over 1.4 million watched as Mr. Trump marched down Fifth Avenue with more than 25,000 veterans, some dressed in their vintage uniforms. A month later, Mr. Trump was honored in the Pentagon during a lunch with the Secretary of Defense and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Other than donating to political campaigns, Trump lists zero accolades relating to political achievement, such as ever holding a political office. He has all of the popularity needed to win an election—but no political substance. The GOP needs a unified vision for America. Trump knows this and he is pretending to offer one. However, America requires more than hot air and Hollywood success to pave the road to a safe and prosperous republic. America needs a President that cares both for the economy and our ongoing culture shift. We need a President that can keep our society intact as we are saddled with the weight of political and social turmoil. So far, I see little proof that Donald is our man and Republicans should ignore his pandering while searching for a true leader, in this fragile American moment.