This week the world was introduced, officially, to the latest GOP presidential hopeful for the 2016 season. And no I don’t mean Jeb Bush.
The Donald himself, Mr. Trump Tower, officially announced his campaign on Tuesday at his New York City skyscraper amid a flurry of press. Mostly press, from the big networks and leading papers to Hollywood and Russian media. It was a spectacle dreamt up for television equipped with a soundtrack to boot.
The real-estate tycoon and reality TV star who has contemplated a presidential run in the past said in his address:
“Sadly the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president, I will bring it back, bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again.
“When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time.”
The Art of the Donald
Despite the wide coverage of his modest declaration, the charade is little more than an appeal for Trump to be seen and, sadly, heard. Millions have been talking, tweeting and writing about his run. I guess that includes me.
But the biggest problem isn’t the terrifying notion of President Trump delivering his inaugural address, before building the Mexican-paid-for wall across the southern United States, slapping illegal import taxes on Ford for building plants in Mexico, undoing President Obama’s immigration orders and healthcare policies, and adding an amendment to the Constitution whereby every citizen must purchase his 1987 memoir, The Art of the Deal. No, because most of us are connected to reality and not the deluded world of Trump’s ego-sized tower in New York City. “The Donald” will use his campaign (I use the term loosely) to derail any Republican chance of actually winning back the White House next November.
Including Trump there are now 12 Republican candidates for the nomination, and too many of these spots are already filled with minor politicians. Take Rick Perry of Texas who has become a piece of the campaign furniture in recent cycles. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is another “also ran”. Sure he appears all over the news (FOX, FOX, and FOX) yet he has little to say on matters which affect millions of Americans. Even now many don’t even realize who he is or that he’s running. His placement on the ballot may be to stir the debates but more than likely it’s his way to gain recognition and push for a cabinet position in any winning GOP administration should the Right win.
Trumping the future
Trump doesn’t need the same national recognition. He’s already achieved that. his success as a reality star, and as political complainer taking shots at anybody in order to get his name in a story, has seen his brand transcend state lines. So why is he running?
Trump is not an idiot. He has built a huge empire which takes a comprehensive thought or two. But there is no way he would win the nomination. And if he had to face Hillary Clinton in the general? Well in that case I’ll be sure to grab a seat and reach for the popcorn.
Trump’s legacy in this campaign will be remembered for skewing the Republican platform. There are some highly substantive candidates on the roll, including Jeb (his preferred campaign moniker), US Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul of Florida and Kentucky respectively, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A debate between these three would be intelligent, meaningful and would express an idea for where the Republican Party lies in the future.
The GOP base is eroding. Leaders realize they will never win another White House battle if they focus solely on white, traditionalist, Christian folks. The landscape is shifting, most significantly with the incredible growth of the Latino population. On Monday Bush’s announcement saw him lose some Republican stalwarts by favoring immigration reform which will at least turn the ears of many voters not entirely convinced by the Democrats. And many have been pointing to Rubio as the potential game changer on any ticket, whether at the top or the bottom.
Republicans need to avoid pandering to demographics they are trying to win over. Rubio is similar to Obama; being a member of the Latino community doesn’t mean he represents every Latino voter. Women have also proved problematic for the GOP in past election cycles. Mrs. Clinton will certainly make winning over women difficult as gender issues will become a paramount part of the debates.
Republicans are known for their disregard for progressive policies, especially when women and minorities are involved. These debates should allow for a new era of open conservative thinking in order to win back the White House. Yet Trump’s presence on the panel will force the leading candidates stick with the GOP base if for nothing else than to show the absurdity of the reality star’s campaign.
The Republican Party is already highly divisive which presents a new issue given the sheer number of prospects diluting the field. With Trump, 12 candidates will be sharing the debate stage – 2012 was already bloated with eight. And that’s assuming New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie doesn’t decide to throw his hat in the ring, though we can’t assume he’ll be the last contender to come forward.
GOP campaign clowns
Trump is little more than a hairpiece wit a deep love for his own voice. His responses to important issues are either completely devoid of evidence or are incredibly simplistic: as he has sentimentalized, “Donald Trump” is the only answer America needs. A businessman of his magnitude should be more than the TV candidate. Yet his abrasive style will likely lure other nominee seekers into idiotic arguments. The solid aspirants, like Jeb and Rubio, will spend most of their time trying to dig themselves out of holes, rather than laying out their agenda for the nation, leaving them fragile to attacks from the Democrats next summer. Everything Trump says will be media gold, filling news segments and pages rather than focusing on the problems Americans are facing, or even the personal qualities of Jeb, Rubio, Walker and Paul.
In 2008 we had Sarah Palin. Herman Cain in 2012. And now we have The Donald for 2016. Inane candidates have become the centerpiece for the Republican presidential race. They of course will never win. However they will leave the more moderate/centric voters not just questioning their own political choices but will more than likely leave them feeling embarrassed for their party and their future.
Pop some popcorn and let the entertaining begin.