Donald Trump personifies American politics, which Americans hate, and yet today he dominates American politics. Let’s unpack that dichotomy.
Trump is loud.
Trump is angry.
Trump is mean.
Trump is polarizing.
Trump is self-loving.
Trump is vacuous on policy.
And Trump believes it’s all about the bottom line—money, ratings, and winning.
He’s a reality-TV character: “The Donald.” His carnival act of character traits were on display Thursday in Las Vegas when he was bragging about a People magazine cover featuring his family. He spotted a woman in the audience holding the cover and brought her on stage.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“Colombia!” she replied.
Trump asked her if they had ever met before and if this was a setup. She threw her arms in the air and shouted: “I’m Hispanic and I vote for Mr. Trump! Yes, Mr. Trump! We love you! We love you all the way to the White House!”
“I’ve never met her before,” Trump shouted to the crowd. “I swear.”
Later, he tweeted: “Just leaving Las Vegas. Unbelievable crowd! Many Hispanics who love me and I love them!”
Actually, polls show Hispanics overwhelmingly disapprove of Trump. Without proof, he accused Mexico of sending rapists into the United States, and, without a workable plan, he pledged to deport 12 million illegal immigrants. He ignores those and most other facts, because his focus is narrowed onto himself, his poll numbers, and the ratings he brings to TV news shows.
Which brings me back to the paradox. Most voters and nonvoters are disconnected from both parties because the two-party system is increasingly loud, angry, mean, polarizing, selfish, vacuous, and soulless. Inside the duopoly, Trump is everything that base voters hate about the other party.
So why the appeal? Maybe it’s because Trump is the best of worst—an exaggerated reflection of what’s wrong with a system that values celebrity and celebrates incivility. He’s a caricature. A cartoon.
Think about it: Voters captivated by “The Donald” are like the parents of a spoiled child who wants a clown at his birthday party. Mom and dad may hate clowns, but if they’ve got to hire one, they might as well get the best.
I understand the appeal, America, but please don’t hire this clown.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.