The tawdry tale of how professional celebrity Donald Trump became a player in the Republican Presidential Presidential sweepstakes is a sad commentary on the state of politics in America.
Trump has no political experience, hasn’t voted in a primary election in 21 years, doesn’t have a campaign or even a real grasp of the many issues and problems facing the nation. Yet he’s dominating the media and political scene.
How did it happen?
Trump benefits from the pop culture that has replaced substance in American politics. His rise to prominence can be traced to the same shallowness that allow instant celebrities like Sarah Palin to gain prominence in political circles. His embrace of the discredited “birther” movement appeals to the rampant racism that dominates the far right wing that controls much of the Republican agenda and appeals to the basic ignorance of the GOP base.
Oddly, it was a gay rights group within the Republican Party that gave Trump his shot at political exposure when it invited the real estate developer and reality TV star to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
They thought it would shake up things at CPAC. They got more than than bargained for.
Now Trump dominates the GOP political debate. He craves media attention and the 24/7 media cycle of news channels and the Internet plays to his celebrity addiction. He’s tailor-made for a culture that craves flash over substance.
Writes Alex Altman on Time.Com:
In the annals of political reportage, I thought perhaps we’d hit bottom last week with this: a fake journalist interviewing a fake presidential candidate about a campaign that will never exist. Meghan McCain and Trump banter about important topics like what Meghan’s mom thinks of the Donald, whether the real-estate tycoon would hire the writer and whether Trump is “really ready for this.” The whole piece reads like two teens gossiping over AIM.
Not to be outdone, Slate – perpetually on the hunt for the counter-intuitive take – found a Daily Caller scribe to make the case for taking Trump’s candidacy seriously. The upshot: Trump’s chest-thumping brio plays well in a party that’s “supposed to be all about ‘me.'” Jeff Winkler writes that Trump’s challenge is “to sell the conservative movement on two things: that he has the kind of pugnacious pizzazz that can beat Obama, and that he shares some of its core values.” Trump has the pugnacity part down pat. Just look at how he questioned Obama’s birth certificate, bravely soldiering on in the face of all evidence. Like Republicans, Winkler concludes, Trump is “serious about winning.”
But the question remains: Can he survive over the long term and will he even run. Skeptics suggest Trump is just in it for the media exposure and say he will move on once that opportunity is exhausted.
And when that happens, will the Republican Party go looking for a real candidate who focuses on real issues? Or will it just find another pop icon that plays to the lowest level of shrillness that has become all too prevalent on the American political scene?
- Symbol of GOP desperation: Donald Trump (capitolhillblue.com)
- Uh oh: Palin supports The Donald (capitolhillblue.com)
- Iowa GOP activists not sold on Trump (capitolhillblue.com)
- Donald Trump’s Low Ceiling, or, Why Donald Trump Is Like The Human Centipede (nymag.com)
- Donald Trump vs. the ‘GOP Establishment’: Why Trump will win (thehill.com)
- The Clown Candidacy: Why Donald Trump Won’t Run (swampland.time.com)