Why Donald Trump is good (and bad) for politics
To the surprise of many Republican voters and the dismay of even more, Donald Trump still sits atop the long list of GOP candidates for president. A recent CNN/ORC poll indicated that Trump has the support of roughly 32 percent of registered Republicans who are likely to vote. His closest challenger is Ben Carson, who is 13 points back at 19 percent.
Trump’s campaign has been anything but typical. He is constantly in the news for politically incorrect quotes or impossible-sounding policy plans. His proposal to force the Mexican government to build a wall on the United States-Mexico border has become one of the staples of his campaign.
But his atypical campaign may be just what the country needs.
Normally, only truly dedicated voters will tune in for a primary debate and then vote. Four years ago, the first Republican primary debate had roughly 3.2 million viewers. According to CNN, the Republican debate that took place on Aug. 6 had 24 million viewers – nearly eight times as many. Viewers were curious about what Donald Trump would say and do on a debate stage but they stayed for the whole show. Having Trump alongside nine other politicians interested potential voters – which is a good thing. They can satisfy their curiosities while also learning about the views of the other top-10 candidates. While that interest may not necessarily translate into higher voter turnout in the primary, it is a good sign of involvement in the democratic process.
As we have seen his viral quotes, Trump is not afraid to say exactly what is on his mind. He has called people losers, stupid and says the nation continues to “lose” to China. While this is certainly not a polite or presidential way of speaking, it strikes a chord with Americans who are frustrated with the usual Washington machine.
The average candidate will merely spout talking points without every answering any substantive questions. Career politicians are notoriously good at answering a question without ever actually giving a straight answer. Trump has been the only person who will openly vent his frustrations, albeit without solutions to actually fix them.
Unlike other politicians, Trump is running a completely self-funded campaign. While this may not be possible for most candidates, the prospect of having a candidate who is not tied to a single or group of wealthy donors is appealing. Large corporations or a few wealthy Americans fund a typical presidential candidate. That will usually translate into policy that directly benefits those corporations and doesn’t consider the public’s view. Part of the appeal of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is his lack of corporate or millionaire donors.
Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good in Trump. While he is undeniably one of the most vocal candidates, he offers no realistic solutions for America. Forcing the Mexican government to build a wall along our southern border is not only impossible, but wouldn’t even begin to solve the problem of illegal immigration. There is a line between being a candid politician and simply being mean. Trump continues to cross this line with every new headline.
Support for Trump will likely begin to dwindle as the primary season continues, and the field begins to narrow. However if anything is to be taken away from his candidacy, it is that the status quo simply will not do. The American people need a candidate who is vigorously outspoken, yet presidential. We need a candidate with realistic ideas that they aren’t afraid to run on. We need a candidate who won’t bow to corporate interests and will strike a chord with the American people.
William Krause is a political columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.