One of my local news stations played a quick interview with a Trump supporter. The newscaster asked if it bothered him that the facts don't always support what Trump says. The gentleman, with a completely straight face, shook his head and said, no, it did not bother him. That scares me. That scares me a lot. Cults of personality come to wield great power all too often. I hate to Godwin here, but I see some frightening similarities.
I'm not a political expert, but I think a great deal of Trump's enduring popularity comes from three things.
One: Celebrity status. Everyone
knows who Donald Trump is - he's the guy from the Apprentice; he's the guy who says outrageous things all the time; he, he, he. And keep in mind, the Apprentice (or is celebrity-based variant) has been running, every season, on the air since 2004
. That's twelve years of building Trump brand awareness via "You're fired." In contrast, most of the candidates still running for the Republican nomination have been onscreen only for...I'll be generous and say six years or less? Yeah, okay, people know who Ben Carson is, or who Marco Rubio is, or Ted Cruz - but did they know their names five years ago?
Two: Americans are gradually becoming less politically informed and generally less intelligent (I believe) about the practical matters of our world, but I think a majority of us know when we're being fed a line of BS. We know...but we just don't care. Take food stamps. People who depend on the SNAP program to put food on the table will tell the government to spend less on programs like SNAP at a frequency that can be disturbing. Why? Not because they don't understand that cutting SNAP will harm them - they do - but they don't care because 'get alla them lazy people off welfare!' They've been convinced to care more about something else rather than their own self-interest. Which is simultaneously good and bad. As a result, elections and campaigns are becoming less and less about fact and more about presentation.
Three: People are sick and tired of hearing politicians make the same old phony promises about what they're going to do when they're elected. The same phenomenon that is causing the Surge of Sanders is the same one that brings the Tide of Trump: people are seeing that they are not
the usual Washington politicians, only interested in getting re-elected so they can enjoy their cushy offices and six-digit salaries and super-nice townhouses. For Sanders, he's the real deal; for Trump...he may not be able to accomplish any
of the goals and things he's saying, but as I said previously, reality and fact don't matter anymore. Image, and what people believe
, is...no fruit please, trumping
all other considerations.
One last thing, about fact. People have been preached to about the facts of X or Y or Z...and then hear on the news two nights later that no, the facts of X or Y or Z are actually the opposite
of what they heard originally. The fact that sometimes people say things that aren't based on fact, and are in reality quite wrong, is something we as a country have been desensitized to.