When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, most of us laughed. We thought it just a publicity stunt for his hotels and TV shows. Then he started picking up followers and working his way through the Republican contenders. He made gaffe after gaffe and the political experts confidently predicted the implosion of his candidature. He kept picking up support.
The dirt diggers got active and accusations were hurled, but The Donald became the Teflon Donald, no charges stuck. People began to listen to him. And liked what he said.
Trump became Republican candidate and experts predicted the collapse and disintegration of the Republican Party. We were solemnly assured Trump would never stand up against a seasoned political campaigner like Hillary Clinton with her wealthy supporters, political machine and overwhelming media support. We know how that ended.
We also know since being elected Trump has faced an onslaught of media antagonism of unprecedented ferocity. Yet he continues to keep the support of his core group and, apart from the Trump haters, the rest of America are beginning to give him a fair hearing.
Last month his approval rating was 45 per cent against a disapproval rating of 55 per cent, a 10 per cent gap. The latest Harvard-Harris poll shows that gap has narrowed. 48 per cent approval and 52 per cent disapproval, a 4 per cent gap.
Other polls show a larger gap but Mark Penn, the poll’s co-director, who has worked for both former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, argues that other polls underestimate Trump’s support by 5 or 6 points.
‘Most polls’ Penn says, ‘have moved away from voters or likely voters to US adults with no screen for registration or even citizenship. And the questions often focus on storylines and narratives critical of Trump.’ Also most surveys oversample young people who don’t vote.
Penn points out that, ‘The actual [special] elections suggest little has changed from Election Day.’ The latest special election in Georgia was generally seen as a referendum on Trump’s agenda. Democrats confidently invested enormous amounts of money in order to buy the election of an anti-Trump candidate. The result was a victory for a Republican woman who resolutely stuck to the issues affecting voters.
What is significant is not so much the figures but the direction in which the figures are moving. It is slowly becoming apparent that a growing number of Americans are prepared to give The Donald a chance. This in itself is extraordinary given the overwhelming anti-Trump bias of television, print media and Hollywood.
Trump has analysed the opposition, the entire Democrat-Media complex, spotted its weakness and exploited it. Progressives believe their own propaganda. They believe they are smarter, more caring and morally upright than the rest of America. Thus they scorn the ordinary people.
In the UK it is the same. Read the Guardian or watch its broadcast arm the BBC and you quickly realise core progressive elites are deeply convinced they are invariably right and know so much better than the plebs. The elites think they are invulnerable so underestimate the rest of us.
Trump presented himself as the spokesman for the Great Ignored, those who see themselves as being scorned. Ordinary people in America did not buy all Trump promised, but they did respond to him positively. As they do today when he tweaks the noses of the elites.
Trump employs three tactics:
1.Trump goes off piste. The elites, especially in the media, make the rules, Trump ignores the rules, he refuses to play their game. Trump does not do traditional media, to do so would be setting himself up as a target to be knocked down. Instead he goes direct to the people. He Tweets and holds rallies, he is constantly on the stump.
He goes out of his way to disparage the media, especially outlets like CNN and MSNBC. Every time he makes a joke about them switching off the camera when he says something positive the media gets angry and his supporters laugh. More importantly the bulk of Americans are beginning to take note of the institutional bias.
2. Trump teases the elites. In a recent rally he brought up the subject of ‘The Wall’. It drives his opponents nuts and his supporters are asking when is it will be built. Trump mused about making it a solar wall. His supporters laughed and wondered how progressives would react.
They reacted in an oh so predictable way. ‘A stupid and pointless waste of money’ they cried, while being totally played by Trump. It was not a definite commitment, it was a suggestion about something which could possibly happen. Trump threw something out to get a reaction from progressives and to keep his supporters happy. It worked.
3. Trump forces the elites to over-react. They are in such a crazy feeding frenzy that they bite at anything. Recently, Trump defended having billionaires in his cabinet making economic policy. ‘ In those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person’.
The media immediately rushed to analyse how Trump’s economic policies will disadvantage the poor, replete with figures and analysis. Most Americans, however, will only remember Trump saying, ‘And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?’ And most Americans will nod with Trump.
The elites just don’t know how to cope with him. In their anti-Trump frenzy they are losing all sense of proportion. From Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez’s unhinged rants to their foot soldiers rioting and banning free speech, progressives are growing hysterical and moving further left and deeper into identity politics.
Their constant message is ‘America is deeply flawed’. Trump’s message is ‘Make America Great Again’. Is it any surprise there is leakage to Trump.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)