I’ve been itching to share a few thoughts about the Trump candidacy and today I finally find myself with an opportunity to scratch.
Trump has been atop the Republican polls and surveys for weeks now, despite the best efforts of the other candidates and Fox News* to erode his support.
Four things to keep in mind here:
- Polls at this point are almost completely about name recognition. Hillary and Trump are by far the most well known names for their respective parties so they poll the highest. It’s as simple as that. In fact, Trump is more than well known. He’s a bonafide Celebrity. And we live in a celebrity-worshipping culture. At this point in the election cycle eight years ago, Rudy Giuliani had a big lead over all the other Rs in the polls. Why? Name ID.
- The liberal media is conflicted about Trump. In one sense they hate him in the same way they hate all Republicans and conservatives. But they’re obsessed with celebrities and can’t resist providing maximum coverage of every utterance and appearance. As a result, Trump gets more mentions and and more minutes of coverage than the other 157 Republican candidates combined.
- Trump is a New York Republican—not a “fly-over country” Republican. Republicans in New York state sit frequently to the left of Democrats in Texas-Oklahoma on the ideological spectrum. They are typically pro-abortion, agnostic on gay marriage, and often quite comfortable with big government and nanny-statism. (See: Bloomberg, Michael) Trump fits comfortably in this mold. He’s even on record as viewing single-payer health care (a.k.a. socialized medicine) favorably. When asked about it in a recent debate, he pointed to Canada and Scotland to defend his views, saying that Single Payer “works incredibly well” in those countries. (Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.)
- Trump has tapped into a deep, powerful current of frustration among regular Americans about illegal immigration. All of Trump’s traction flows from his tough, unapologetic, unvarnished, refreshingly un-PC and quite accurate proclamations about how illegal immigration is killing our country. Huge segments of the tax-paying population have been desperate for a politician with the huevos to speak the unvarnished truth about this slow-motion invasion. It’s not surprising that he’s energizing a lot of people. And as long as he gets to focus solely on that one issue, he will continue to do so. It’s when he has to talk about something else, as with that debate question about health care, that Trump becomes vulnerable.
If you’re a single-issue voter and illegal immigration is that issue, then Donald Trump may very well be your guy. And I get it. Immigration may be the most important issue there is right now, it terms of the survival of our civilization.
But if you also care about a lot of the other ways the Obama presidency has weakened our nation—for example “the weaponization of the federal bureaucracy” which I wrote about in this blog post— you can probably do better than Trump among the large and largely impressive current group of Republican contenders. (I’ll share some thoughts about who I like in a later post.)
The “Big Money” Rs Want Open Borders
The divide over the illegal immigration issue doesn’t break down cleanly between Republicans and Democrats or conservatives and liberals. The fact is, a lot of “country club” Republicans are pro-illegal immigration because it drives down labor prices for corporations.
And there are some Democrats who haven’t imbibed the multi-culti Kool-Aid so deeply that they’re blind to the fact that open borders and lax enforcement are crushing the working poor. Some labor unions also seem to be aware that importing 50 million individuals willing to work for a lot less and to accept a much lower standard of living isn’t exactly conducive to keeping wages up.
On the traditionally Republican side, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal are both long-time champions of open borders and minimalist enforcement.
Here’s the conundrum for the current crop of Republican contenders . . .
Most of the fat-cat Republican donors are of this WSJ-U.S. Chamber variety—that is, they they stand to be further enriched by lots of importation of cheap labor.
In a field of candidates this large, it’s going to take money to break out of the pack. But any candidate that takes a hard line on illegal immigration isn’t going to attract that money. But that doesn’t matter if you happen to be a celebrity billionaire.
It seems only someone as rich as Donald Trump can afford to be vocal about these things because he doesn’t need their money.
If some other candidate does manage to break out, my hope is that he or she is paying attention to the energy Trump is generating around the illegal immigration issue. Even more, I hope he or she truly recognizes it for civilizational threat that it is and has the courage to stand against the powerful, greed-driven interests that care nothing for our culture or civilization.
* I’m ordinarily a fan and defender of Fox News but the reason the network is anti-Trump is that it is pro-immigration. You’ll almost never hear an anti-illegal immigration voice on FNC other than the occasional Ann Coulter sighting.