I have been thoroughly confused by the conservative obsession with Donald Trump. That is until I read this excellent piece in the Washington Examiner by Daniel Allott which provides the most plausible explanation for the cult of the Donald I’ve read to date.
The Donald is benefiting from the fact that some conservatives are desperate to have their worldview validated by celebrities. Conservatives often insist they are above caring about the culture of celebrity. They criticize pop culture and accuse Democrats of being in thrall to Hollywood. But conservatives are just as prone to getting starstruck.
And many will embrace just about any celebrity who seems to be the least bit conservative. The results can be cringe-inducing.
That makes a lot of sense to me. You should read the whole thing.
When I talk to my conservative friends about Trump they often tell me that they love him because the media supposedly hates him. “The main stream media are absolutely flummoxed by him,” one friend told me recently.
But is that really true? It seems to me that the media knows exactly what to do with a bombastic, soundbite-a-minute caricature of Republicanism like Donald Trump. They train the spotlight on him and happily reap all the web clicks, viewers, and newspaper sales he generates.
Contrary to popular opinion, the media loves Donald Trump. Oh they’ll feign outrage about whatever he’s been ranting about most recently, sure, but it’s all part of the schtick. In reality Trump is like manna from heaven for story-starved political news producers and editors who need something to publish/talk about during the summer doldrums of a non-election year.
That Trump also seems to be making it less likely that Americans will elect a Republican in 2016 is just icing on the cake for these people. “A Pew poll released Thursday finds that the Republican Party’s favorability has taken a negative turn,” Allott writes. “And it’s in no small part due to the fact that Democrats hold a 22-percentage point edge on the question of which party is more ‘concerned with people like me.'”
Gallup showed a similar trend in recent polling as well.
Trump’s caustic approach to presidential politics may appeal to conservatives who are smarting from nearly seven years under President Barack Obama, but successful political strategy is based on persuasion. Specifically the persuasion of people who aren’t already supporting you.
Trump may be firing up the conservative base, for reasons I cannot fathom, but that’s not going to win an election in an America has now twice given majority support to Obama.