Stop Saying Donald Trump Can't Win
It’s been a media mantra since Donald Trump began campaigning last summer: He can’t possibly become president.
It’s time that everyone realized that yes, he can.
Surveys show the billionaire New York businessman and TV personality has extremely high negatives -- but so does likely Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. And unlike Clinton, Trump can run as an anti-establishment candidate at a time when anti-establishment feeling is intense, gaining strength and bringing new voters to the polls.
But all of Trump’s shortcomings have been ignored for over almost a year by millions of Americans who believe that Trump grasps their problems and fears in ways the nation’s leaders do not. These Americans see an economy and a tax system that increasingly seem to help only the wealthiest acquire more wealth. They see decades of middle-class wage stagnation as something Washington blithely accepts. They look at the immigration chaos in Europe and the Middle East and wonder why the elites of both parties are so intent on bringing more people to a country that doesn’t have enough good jobs or money to help those already here. They consider our foreign policy under both Republican and Democratic presidents and doubt it’s made us safer.
Americans with some or all of these views are attracted to both Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist who has done far better against Clinton in the Democratic nomination race than anyone expected. They see Trump and Sanders attacked by the media and the conventional politicians of both parties — and that makes them even more attractive.
But of the two, Trump is not going away. Given how popular he is even in the home states of GOP rivals Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. John Kasich, it is hard to believe he will not win the Republican nomination. And the old conventional wisdom about this leading to a Clinton general election landslide seems shakier all the time. The former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady is a symbol of the political establishment at a time when many voters will see that as a negative.
Trump knows this. If he were to tone down his act just a bit; if he picks a reassuring running mate; if there are other terrorist attacks like those in late 2015 in Paris and San Bernardino -- Trump would be in a good position to win in November. There are signs mainstream Republicans are figuring this out. On Thursday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., became among the first members of Congress to endorse him and that was followed on Friday by an endorsement from Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.
At some point Trump may still self-destruct. But even if that happens, the Trump phenomenon and the Sanders near-phenomenon should make it clear to prominent politicians, their patrons and their parties that they need to respond to America’s mass alienation and disaffection with specific policies, not patronizing rhetoric. A populist fire is burning. Without the right response, it could become an inferno.
Reprinted from the Jacksonville Daily News
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