Perhaps it's about time the world acknowledged it: Donald Trump is a serious contender for the U.S. presidency -- and his continued polling success certainly says a lot of things about America. But just how did we reach this point where "The Donald" could very well be the next "Leader of the Free World"?
Before Donald Trump decided to make a serious run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, he was best known for being a highly successful businessman, establishing the likes of the glamorous Grand Hyatt Hotel and the upscale Trump Tower. Then, in 2003, he began to produce and host the popular NBC reality show The Apprentice, which garnered high ratings and cemented Trump's role as a media personality. Later, in 2012, Trump began but quickly ended a run for the United States presidency, but not before making headlines for successfully demanding that President Obama release his long-form birth certificate to settle issues regarding the president's citizenship. Then, on June 16, 2015, Trump announced a new presidential bid at the lobby of the Trump Tower in New York. And judging from polls, many Americans are seriously considering making "The Donald" the next main resident of the White House.
The rise of Donald Trump as a legitimate presidential contender certainly says a lot about him, but perhaps it reveals even much more about the American populace. Here are ten such revelations:
9 The backlash against political correctness growing.
Merriam-Webster defines politically correct (PC) as "agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people." Meanwhile, the popularity-based top definition of PC on Urban Dictionary is "a way that we speak in America so we don't offend whining pussies." The stark contrast between these two listed definitions reflects the sharp divide between PC and non-PC America, and it appears undeniable that non-PC America is gaining momentum -- a reality that Donald Trump has been openly capitalizing on. He explicitly declared, "Political correctness is just absolutely killing us [America] as a country," and has on numerous occasions, backed up his position by posting blatantly politically incorrect tweets such as these:
While @BetteMidler is an extremely unattractive woman, I refuse to say that because I always insist on being politically correct.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2012
Sadly, because president Obama has done such a poor job as president, you won't see another black president for generations!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2014
and issued statements like this:
Trump's refusal to apologize for these and other politically incorrect statements, viewed in light of his surprising staying power, seems to portend that PC America may well be on its deathbed.
8 Many Americans want to hear the blunt truth.
Whether or not Donald Trump speaks the truth is up for debate, but it's undeniable that he projects himself as an authoritative speaker who doesn't hold back on anything. This was most evident in what he said when he spoke about Mexico on June 16, 2015:
When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting.
And of all occasions, it was during the launch of his 2016 presidential bid that Trump made such a statement. Needless to say, Trump's continued rise in presidential polls since his controversial remarks points to the longing of Americans to hear some straight up real talk.
7 The anti-immigrant sentiment still exists.
Related to Trump's previously quoted words, the extreme position that Donald Trump has taken on the issue of immigration seems to have struck a resonant chord with a significant number of Americans. While many politicians, including Trump's own fellow Republicans, have slammed his immigration stance, several population control movement groups have sang him praises. For example, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, Mark Krikorian opined that Trump's immigration plan -- which includes the radical policies of making immigrants pay for a "permanent border wall" and deporting millions of illegal immigrants -- was "sound and well thought-through." Meanwhile, conservative-leaning columnist Ann Coulter called Trump's plans for immigration "the greatest political document since the Magna Carta." So yes, "nativism" is still very much alive in America.
7. Many Americans truly believe their country is headed in the wrong direction.
A nationwide Bloomberg Politics survey released in September 2015 showed that 72% of Americans believed America wasn't as great as it used to be. And judging from early polls on the Republican presidential nomination, that sentiment is translating to support for Donald Trump, whose battle cry "Make America Great Again!" is resonating with many voters. How does he plan to elevate America? In his 2011 bestseller Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again, Trump outlined a five-point plan, which involves (1) regulating foreign interventions that America involves itself in, (2) breaking OPEC's grip on energy prices, (3) stopping China's currency manipulation, (4) spurring job and wealth creation, and (5) reforming America's legal immigration system. Whether or not those plans are actually steps in the right direction is an entirely different issue, of course.
6 Old-school U.S. superiority still appeals to many Americans.
On September 15, 2015, Donald Trump, on the deck of the USS Iowa, delivered his first major speech on national security. Among his lines were:
You know the thing I'll be great at that people are thinking? And I do very well at it. Military. I am the toughest guy. I will rebuild our military. It will be so strong, and so powerful, and so great. It will be so powerful that we're never going to have to use it. We're going to have a president who is respected by Putin, respected by Iran.
Such an ambition seems to have struck a chord with many Americans. Perhaps it's because Americans have had enough of world leaders ignoring the U.S.A., just as when Russia annexed Crimea despite America's warnings and subsequent sanctions.
5 Many Americans don't care about the "small" details.
One of the criticisms against Donald Trump is that he's big on ideas and vague on details. For example, when he talks about rebuilding America's military, who really knows what else he'll do that hasn't already been done? After all, the United States is, by far, already tops when it comes to spending on its military; in fact, America spends more than the next seven top countries combined in terms of military expenditure. Furthermore, Trump has been criticized for exaggerating even his own financial standing. While a document Trump released showed his net worth as of June 2014 to be over $8.7 billion, the lack of details has led many financial analysts, including Forbes, to allege that Trump actually bloated his real net worth, which the organization says is really a little over $4 billion. Nevertheless, judging from Trump's continued popularity, it seems many Americans don't really care much for such "small" details.
4 A new brand of politics may be on the rise.
A third of the respondents in the earlier mentioned Bloomberg poll indicated that they wanted to elect a president who didn't have experience in public office. Not surprisingly, Republican outsiders like billionaire businessman Trump, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson, surveyed quite well. More specifically, these three aspirants who have never held public office accounted for 48% of the choices in the said poll. And while there has always been a portion of America that is distinctly anti-politician, it appears that their numbers have grown substantially. Could it be that political experience is fast becoming a hindrance, rather than an asset, to being elected to the highest echelons of U.S. government?
3 Many Americans still admire the rich and successful.
If Donald Trump did indeed inflate his net worth as alleged, why did he do it? Besides, it's not as if being worth $4 billion doesn't qualify Trump as being extremely wealthy. Well, according to Forbes, Trump's financial success is core to his presidential candidacy, and perhaps, Trump's act of releasing his "net worth" shortly before beginning his campaign is an acknowledgement that a huge part of his appeal is his wealth. In the words of Trump himself, "I'm proud of my net worth. I've done an amazing job." And understandably, many Americans would like to see their country enjoying similar success, a sentiment captured by Trump's "Make America great again!" slogan.
2 Political analysts can get it wrong.
Political pundits have declared the "beginning of the end" of Donald Trump's polling success countless times throughout the past months. For example, in July, MLive Michigan's Tim Skubick wrote "Donald Trump's immigration remarks were beginning of his end." Then that same month, Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol tweeted,
Well apologize Trump didn't, and finish #1 in polls for the Republican nomination he continued to do. In fact, to this day, the doom-saying has continued from various quarters, and yet, as the Republican primaries approach, Trump is still standing strong. Of course he could still end up losing his bid to win his party's nomination, but even if that happens, he has, thus far, already proven many political analysts wrong.
1 White America is alive and strong.
Jeff Nesbit of U.S. News delivered an intriguing analysis of the importance of the white vote in the general elections of the United States. He pointed out that while the prevailing analysis of the 2012 presidential elections was that Mitt Romney lost because Obama won the Hispanic vote -- 71% of Hispanics voted for Obama and 27% voted for Romney -- the statistical truth is that Hispanics constituted only 7% of the general vote. In fact, even if the way Hispanics voted were flipped (71% for Romney and 27% for Obama), Romney would've still lost the election. The crucial fact, Nesbit points out, is that between 5 to 10 million white voters didn't bother to vote in 2012. In fact, if Romney had won 63% of the white vote (instead of the 59% that he did), he would have won the election. So maybe Donald Trump is on to something by trying to appeal to white voters and ignoring the fact that he's angering various minorities. We'll certainly be watching to see how that strategy turns out.