You may not see Donald Trump as presidential material. If you don’t seem him as being electable, you’re not alone. Republican candidates may ignore him at their peril though, his populist brand of conservatism resonates with a large chunk of the electorate. Populism by definition has wide-spread support. He is to the GOP what Bernie Sanders is for the Democrats. He is in fact, the ‘Anti-Bernie’. Sanders, believe it or not, is currently Hillary’s main opponent for the Democratic nomination. His supporters are trying to send her a message, just as Trump’s supporters are sending the rest of the Republican field a message: “Don’t ignore us, we are your base!”
If the job title were: “Negotiator in Chief” he should win hands-down. Who do you think the Iranians would rather see sitting across from them at the negotiating table, John Kerry or Donald Trump? Same with the Chinese, Mexicans, Russians, and so on. He is against the trade bill, mentioning Obama’s poor track record when it come’s to negation. He cited the SGT Bergdahl swap for five terrorists as one example:
“Number one, the people negotiating don’t have a clue. Our president doesn’t have a clue. He’s a bad negotiator,” Trump said of the deal that brought Bergdahl l home. He went on to say, “…We get Bergdahl. We get a traitor. We get a no-good traitor, and they get the five people that they wanted for years, and those people are now back on the battlefield trying to kill us. That’s the negotiator we have.”
His views on immigration strike a populist chord also. He said of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you.” He took some heat from some in the media for saying that, though the point can’t really be disputed. Also on the subject of illegal immigration he said: “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.” It would have sound far-fetched if anybody else had said it.
He also went on to note our trade deficit with China, a subject some might think he’s obsessed with. Obsessed though he may be, economists will back up his claim that China manipulates their currency. When it comes to overseas trade, be it with China or the other countries he mentions, he does not spell out the trade-off, Americans get cheaper goods for those lost jobs. It may be a Faustian bargain, but he has never spelled out the choice. To be fair, none of the other candidates are likely to either.
Like many of his fellow Republican candidates, Trump would take a hard-line on terrorism. “Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them.They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken.” They are evil, monstrous, and their his competitors. That may have been the last straw.
For many, Donald Trump’s populist message may be over the top. He’s a showman, a publicity hound. Many will say his style is not a good fit for a would-be occupant of the White House. As a practical matter those may not be his biggest obstacles. He is the world’s most famous boss. His catch phrase is, “You’re fired”. Problem is, if elected president, he will have to find a way to work with 535 people who he cannot fire. One might compare his situation with those Presidents who were former generals, they came from a world were they gave orders and those orders were followed, period. He may find that like Grant and Eisenhower, governing is a lot tougher when those under you are not obliged obey your commands. He will come up against 535 agendas not his own, 535 egos, some of them quite big. He says he knows politicians, he knows what they want. In the end his challenge, at least one of them, will be to convince the primary voter of that.