The public has watched in suspended horror, or elation, depending on your perspective, how Donald J. Trump has turned the presidential primaries into a reality TV show. With his background as a reality producer and star, he has reached into his repertoire of gimmicks to unleash campaign tactics unseen in recent memory. Each and every night in the news, we are treated to his childish antics of name calling, insults to his colleagues and opponents, blaming and vilifying minority communities for the ills of the country and threatening to abolish the fourteenth amendment of the constitution. All of this happens as the majority of the nation’s elite media outlets sits on the sideline, sometimes cheering him on.
What is more distressing than watch the media become spectators instead of doing their job of asking hard hitting questions or correcting the inaccuracies that form the basis of Mr. Trump’s campaign, is listening to their so-called analysis of why he has become popular and leading the polls among other Republican candidates. The current narrative is that he has “touched a nerve” and that he is speaking to the “anger” among the GOP base. As I had noted in one of my previous articles, the so-called anger is one that was manufactured by the GOP itself and does not reflect in any statistical significance, the mood of the general public. In what universe is the current socioeconomic condition of the country worse than it was in 2008? I will spare you, the avalanche of statistics here, but any serious discussion will show they are not in any way comparable. The fact that Republicans, who profess their undying allegiance to Ronald Reagan, who famously invented the phrase “are you better now than you were four years ago”, fail to see the difference, speaks to the institutional hypocrisy within the party. And isn't it at all hypocritical to anyone that, a Party, supposedly beholden to the principles of Ronald Reagan, whose most famous quote is "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," now have as its major political goal the erection of a 1,933 mile wall at the border between US and Mexico. Meanwhile, no Republican in recent memory has called for the building a wall at the border between US and Canada, the length of which is more than doubled the distance of the Mexican border at 3,987 according to U.S. Geological Survey. If that is not hypocrisy, I don't know what that is.
So when we hear Mr. Trump crusading against Mexico and how "our country is in bad shape" because of porous border to the south, let's call him for the exploitative charlatan that he is. He, like the rest of the chest-thumping field of Republican candidates, does not really care about fixing the borders. Because first, they are the ones that will complain about the cost of building such a wall, you know because they are the hollow sounding "fiscal conservatives," (which is why Trump has been lying to everyone claiming he is going to make Mexico pay for it), and secondly, because it is yet another lie they tell their base to get elected. If there is any sincerity on their part, and if they really feel our open borders are are indeed a threat to our safety and security as they say, why would they not advocate the same thing for our northern neighbors as they do for Mexico? Therefore, when you hear Trump huffing and puffing about "making America great again," clearly he does not know what he is talking about and any analysis that attempts to legitimize his exploitation of “anger” among the electorate is flatly wrong or is disingenuous at best. His claimed popularity is also seriously questionable. Thus far, he is getting support from about a quarter of the GOP primary base. Now primary voters are a very small number of a party’s likely voters. The Republican Party itself represents only about 30% of the voting public. If Donald Trump is getting a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, it is hardly anything of significance to warrant the characterization and wholesale coverage he has been getting at the expense of other news item.
The fact that all his events thus far have been held in traditional Red states with majority of the Tea Party membership belies the nationwide popularity analysis. He is clearly not popular in Blue states. In fact, news reports had it that he paid individuals to attend the announcement of his presidential bid back in June. To gain popularity with the Tea Party folks, (who by the way, have nothing in common with him whatsoever), he has cop-opted their message and given voice to all the lies and conspiracies that GOP candidates have been telling them for years. Since they have failed to deliver on their previous campaign promises, essentially because they are unrealistic, doesn’t make sense and does not represent the sentiments of the majority in the country, these nativist base looking for anyone to blame, have now latched on to the master manipulator and ego maniac in Donald Trump, ignoring every logical sign that his promises will go the way the others went. The other mistake the media are making is hoping for policy positions from Mr. Trump. He does not have policy positions because it is not as if these delusions he has been spouting were thought-out and and can be enforced. The only policy he has released so far is really not his but that of the ultra-conservative senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions. What policy is he going to present that will nullify birthright citizenship? The fourteenth amendment has been part of the law and American Jurisprudence for more than 150 years? He does not have one and he knows there’s no constitutional lawyer worth his salt, who is going to put his name on any ignominious document to challenge that. But he says these things because that is what the uninformed base voters of the Republican Party wants to hear. Such nonsense will never fly with liberals and progressives. In fact, that is probably the reason he became a Republican because such racist, anti-immigrant, unconstitutional, and angry message will never be tolerated in the Democratic Party.
Mr. Trump like any American has the right to run for any office. While he has the first amendment right to say anything he wants, it is incumbent on the media, as the unofficial fourth branch of the government, to engage in their duty to scrutinize and to vet anyone seeking higher office and make sure they are not selling us a “bag of bull.” The American presidency is the highest office in the world. It occupies that high position because it is respected for the dignity that comes with it. Unless we play our part and the media in particular vigorously do their job, we may be inadvertently enabling the dumbing down of the American presidency.