Donald the Quack

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Donald Trump is most likely going to be the Republican nominee in the presidential election this fall.

Last week, he won the Indiana primary, causing Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to drop out of the race. Unless something shocking happens at the GOP convention this summer, Trump will most certainly represent the Republican party in the election in November.

I am dumbfounded, and I'm not the only one. Many of my friends and family have asked me how this could happen. My mother is one of these people. She's voted Republican across-the-board all her life, feeling a vote for a third party would be a vote against the Republican candidate. With Trump leading the Republican race, she probably won't be voting for the Republican nominee this year.

She called me before voting in the Texas primary in March, saying she didn't know whom to vote for. She said she didn't like any of the choices, especially Trump. I asked her what she'd do if he won the nomination, and her response surprised me.

"Well, I can't vote for him," she said. "I can't vote for someone who hates women. I'm a woman."

I suspect many Republican voters are having that same problem right now. Trump hasn't just alienated women; he's insulted Iowans, Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled and several respected Republicans, including Sen. John McCain.

One would think Trump has created enough enemies to stop him from winning the presidential election, but he's been careful not to criticize the people who vote for him. In fact, much of his hate speech caters directly to his voters. He knows whom he's trying to win over. He wants to attract people who are afraid of certain ethnic groups, so he says hateful things about those groups. He suggests ridiculous policies, such as building a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep all the illegal Mexicans from crossing the border.

He knows he can say these things to gain more popularity with his already established fan base. Even better, he knows his inflammatory statements will grant him free advertising in the media. This is a guy who has worked the media for most of his life; he's been in the public eye for more than 30 years. He doesn't have experience in politics, but he has pretty extensive knowledge on how to keep the public talking about him.

His supporters insist that he's the best candidate because he's not a politician. They point out how he doesn't have ties to Washington, D.C., saying he funded his campaign completely on his own. Because Trump doesn't have to answer to big donors, he can say pretty much anything he wants. His supporters say this is a good thing. It's refreshing, they say, to hear a presidential candidate give the media a piece of his mind.

If Trump were criticizing the corrupt two-party system that runs America, I'd agree with that. But he's not. He's focused most of his candid statements on increasing the hatred toward marginalized groups, caring more about getting people to talk about him than getting people to talk about actual issues.

I'm not even sure how candid Trump is. One of my friends attributed Trump's statements to stupidity, but I disagree. Trump isn't stupid. He loves attention, and he's found a way to get it. He must calculate the things he says to get the most media coverage possible.

He is different from the politicians he's competed and will compete against but not because he's free of all the money tied to politics. Whether you like them or not, Ted Cruz and John Kasich ran campaigns because they believed they could help Americans in some way.

Trump is only out for himself. I so hope he doesn't have to win the presidency for his supporters to see that.

* * *

Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com