Saturday, August 22, 2015

On Second Thought, I Am Glad Trump Is Running for President

The third time was supposed to be the charm. Surely Donald Trump taking on one of Fox News' brightest stars would spell his demise. Nate Silver dutifully produced his little charts and declared that Trump won't win a war against Fox News"". Smelling a hint of blood (no pun intended), Carly Fiorina tweeted that she stood by Megyn Kelly. GOP strategists praying for an end to the Trump campaign smiled with evident relief.

Two weeks later and once again the "experts" are shown to be trapped by their own biases as the Trump candidacy marches on. Nate Silver has learned that Fox News viewers are not mindless robots that will digest whatever Murdoch feeds them. Megyn Kelly is on vacation while her image as America's sweetheart is a bit tarnished after risqué photos of her and a raunchy interview with Howard Stern circulated social media.

Shortly after joining the Republican presidential field,  Trump zoomed past the Jeb! juggernaut. Well... at least what was supposed to be the Jeb! juggernaut. Several political pundits quickly dismissed the Trump surge as an expected bounce from his presidential announcement. It is just that Trump is the newest entry, the novelty of the moment, they said. Yet, there was no Pataki, Graham or Santorum bounce after they announced. Misreading the initial polls just marked the beginning of a series misreadings and wrong predictions.

I confess, I was never a Trump fan. I found him to be too strident and obnoxious. I really thought that,  when push came to shove, Trump would again decline to run. I always saw his threats of running for president as just publicity stunts. Also, for the sake of the GOP, I was hoping he would not run. I just did not want to see a repeat of the 2012 Republican primary season (a.k.a. the clown car).

I have even went so far as to propose, along with a good friend, that the RNC adopt a rule whereby only individuals who have won statewide be allowed to seek the Republican nomination. Now before any constitutional conservative breaks a sweat over the fact that the Constitution does not place any such restriction on whom may run for president, I am talking about the Republican Party adopting the rule. As a private entity, the GOP can establish whatever qualifications it wants for those who wish to carry the (R) label after their name.  Such a rule would have prevented Herman "999" Cain, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann from running for the GOP nomination in 2012. This cycle, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and, of course, Donald Trump would be ineligible.

We suggested the rule for two reasons. First, elections are about winning and the presidential election is essentially winning several statewide races. If an individual has not - at the very least - demonstrated that he or she can win one statewide race, what is the likelihood that he or she will be able to win several statewide races? Second, it would avoid individuals from misusing the Republican nomination process to raise their profile so that they can pursue other careers or sell books. Electing the leader of the free world is a serious matter and should be not the time for sideshows or vanity candidates.

Boy am I glad the RNC did not listen to me! Donald Trump has turned out to be a much needed shot in the arm of our dying democracy. American voters who had given up on the political system are once again engaged. A record 24 million tuned in to watch the first Republican debate in the middle of vacation season.  Just when millions of Americans thought they would be facing again a choice between two candidates controlled by the donor class, Trump comes along and provides voters an donor-free option.

For the decades, the two major political parties have diligently toiled to make sure that voters have no choices at the ballot. Through jerrymandering, limiting ballot access, controlling the money supply, it has become next to impossible for third parties to challenge the duopoly. Even within the primaries, establishment candidates are well protected against challengers. Only occasionally, when caught off guard like Eric Cantor, have insurgents been able triumph. Just as Americans were looking at the dreadful prospect of a Hillary-Jeb race, Trump comes along and gives voters a chance to break up the status quo.

Not only has Trump revived our moribund democracy, he has lifted the shroud of political correctness that was suffocating free speech. Issues, concerns that could not be raised without being ridiculed or marginalized as a racist are finally being discussed openly again. Yes America, it is okay to be annoyed by people from other countries violating our immigration laws. It is not cruel or racist to question whether it is wise to continue a policy whereby a child born two hours after his mother illegally crosses our northern border is immediately entitled to American citizenship and all the benefits that come with it. Yes Republicans, it is okay to challenge the free trade dogma that has dominated the party for the last three decades. Just when Americans thought free speech would become little more than a line in the Constitution, Trump comes along and breathes new life into the First Amendment.

In just two months, Trump has brought new energy, vitality to our political system. Whether his campaign eventually implodes - as many of the experts have been predicting - or makes it all the way to the White House - to the horror of the DC establishment - only time will tell. I feared another clown car, instead I got a exciting ride on the Trump Train. I am very happy to be wrong.