Friday, August 28, 2015

Donald Trump As Teddy Roosevelt?

'Just bully for me, thank you!'
'Bully for me! Bully for you, Donald!'
There has been all kinds of speculation about Donald Trump since he announced his run for the Republican nomination for President on June 16.

Has it been that long? It seems like only yesterday he said John McCain was 'not a war hero'; called Megyn Kelly a 'bimbo' and tangled with Jorge Ramos of Univision.

Maybe it is because he says all the same things every day it seems. Just a continual loop of sound bites and video.

Many pundits in Washington have predicted his political death 10 times already. George Will is biting through his upper set of teeth as he gnashes them contemplating the 'end of conservatism' as we know it today.

Whatever it really means, that is. We have heard at least 10 different descriptions of it over the years ranging from social conservatism to tax conservatism to libertarian conservatism to whatever-the-heck-you-wanna-call-it conservatism.

It seems to us that Donald Trump has tapped into the large taproot of disgust and revulsion that has been building against both established parties for about a decade that now manifests itself in the large percentage of people who are officially registered as 'Independents' or 'Unaffiliated'.

Every time we talk to such a group, they say the same thing over and over and over and over again:

'We hate the Democrats. We hate the Republicans. The Democrats spend too much money and like too much regulation and taxation of the private sector. The Republicans like to spend too much time worrying about what people are doing in their bedrooms.

They fight and they fight and they bitch and they bitch and they never get anything done for the overall good of the country. They are too concerned about their party and careers and staying in office way too long.

We are socially moderate-to-libertarian and fiscal conservatives.' 

Period. Next question.

In North Carolina, such officially registered Independent/Unaffiliateds accounts for close to 32% of the registered vote nowadays. That is a huge chunk of the electorate that neither side really knows how to speak to.

Along comes Donald Trump. He goes from nothing to 10% in GOP primary polls to 15% to 20% to 25% and now is over 32% in many state polls across the nation. Every time he does or says something that the 'experts' say will 'kill his campaign', he goes up another 5% points overnight it seems.

We have been trying to figure out who in American history he most resembles the most. We think you have to go all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt to get some inkling of why Donald Trump appears to have hit such a sweet spot with so many people today.

Both were (are) very wealthy sons of very wealthy people to begin with. Sons of privilege you might call them both.

Let's face it: It is easier to get to home base from third base if you are already born on it. After a while, after you have achieved great financial success, it starts to appear to you as if you have hit a grand slam home run to get to home base instead of acknowledging that you probably had a pretty good headstart in life over 99.9999% of every other human being who has ever been born on this planet.

Donald Trump acknowledges all this. So did Teddy Roosevelt.

'I am rich. I admit it.' they say. 'But what I want to do as President of the United States of America  is help everyone in America get rich! Especially the hard-working middle class!'

And therein lies the secret of the allure of both of them it seems. The average middle-class worker sees and hears a rich guy such as Donald Trump say such things and what they are really hearing is this:

'I wanna help YOU make more money and get a better job and take care of your family and pay your bills!'

That is a hard thing not to like. Especially after 6 years of stagnation and frustration in the job market and economy.

There is a strong line of populism in both TR's rhetoric and Trump's stream-of-consciousness thinking and talking out loud.

Both are, at their core, 'showmen' of the first order. Teddy Roosevelt used to go on big safari hunts in Africa and bring back enough dead big-game animals to fill a zoo.

At least Donald Trump just likes to open up casinos, fancy hotels and run Miss America Pageants. And tell people 'You're fired!' on 'The Apprentice'.

Teddy Roosevelt loved the crowds and loved to deliver fiery speeches to large crowds to inspire them to follow the Greatness of America dreams.

So does Donald Trump. Except he seems to be doing it right off the top of his head. At least Teddy Roosevelt was a learned scholar and author and historian of the first order; his speeches were probably a bit more nuanced than Mr. Trump's.

But not much.

Both had/have third-party aspirations. When Teddy Roosevelt wanted to run again after he retired from the White House voluntarily after 2 terms (remember there was no 22nd Amendment preventing long-term presidencies until 1947 after FDR's 4 elections), mainly because he missed the action so much, and he wasn't the Republican nominee, he invented a new political party, the Bull Moose Party, and ran under that banner. Bully for him!

We'll see if Donald Trump remains in the Republican camp if he does not wind up being the nominee. He can sign all the pledges others want him to but in the end, the only thing that would prevent him from running as a third-party candidate in all the 2016 primaries would be lack of ballot access due to lack of organization beforehand.

Both are New Yorkers. Or rather 'New Yawkers'.

There is something unique about a true New Yawker speaking in short sentences in simple words that everyone can understand. The Brooklyn in him is distinctively assertive and directive:

'We are gonna make America great again!'
'We are gonna build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it! Trust me!'
'We are going to knock ISIS out and take back their oil fields!'

You just get the feeling that he, like Teddy Roosevelt before him, means what he says and says what he means. Come hell or high water, he is issuing leadership language whether you like it or agree with it or not.

At the same time, it covers a lot of territory and gives comfort to a lot of people who need and want hope after a long period of disillusionment with the current White House and the Members of the US House and Senate.

The economy has not boomed over the past 6 years under President Barack Obama. Health care premiums have not gone down $2500 per year for every family under Obamacare. ISIS is running rampant over the entire Middle East it seems and jobs keep going to Mexico and China and Asia and not to the rural areas of North Carolina or wheatfields of Kansas or drought-stricken regions of central California.

Let's face it: Americans really DO want to believe we live in the greatest country on earth! That is why we are Americans!

They are tired of the worldwide apology tours of President Obama over the past six years. They are tired of negotiating with our enemies such as Iran which shows absolutely zero predisposition to changing their ways on the world stage now they are within grasp of building nuclear weapons. They are tired of not seeing the American economy explode with an over-abundance of new jobs ever year, especially the young graduates of our nation's best universities.

So Donald Trump comes along with a very simple cap that reads in bold letters: 'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!'

And they are buying what he is selling. Whether everyone agrees with what he says or how he says it or not.

On top of all that, both TR and Trump were/are willing to take on the Kings and Barons of Wall Street. Teddy Roosevelt went after them on a trust-busting binge at the beginning of the 20th century. Donald Trump has clearly stated that he wants to raise taxes on Wall Street investment bankers who have large amounts of carried interest on investments that get taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income would be taxed.

'They're my friends! I know them like a book! They laugh at how little they pay in taxes! Trust me, I know whudda I'm talkin' about!'

The little guy and the average middle-income wage-earner sees and hears a very rich guy like Donald Trump or Teddy Roosevelt going after the big guys on Wall Street, especially after so many of them re-made their fortunes on the back of those same taxpayers when we bailed them all out in 2009 after they helped burn down the financial system of America, and they say to themselves:

'That is a guy speaking the truth! I might not agree with him on everything....but I agree that he is a leader and we desperately need a strong leader now to lead us out of this mess we are now in in America!'

Even evangelicals in Iowa are supporting Donald Trump! They hear him say 'I have never asked God for forgiveness on anything I can remember cause I can't remember doing anything wrong' which is completely contrary to the notion of original sin and fallen creatures...and they say, 'Well, that is good enough for me!'

On women's issues, he has been very specific on maintaining women's health funding through Planned Parenthood even while saying he thinks the abortion delivery side of Planned Parenthood should be shut down due to the recent revelations regarding the horrendous sale of fetal organs...and both sides seem to be saying: 'I can live with that!'

It really is like watching the Hale-Bopp Comet come out of nowhere and streak across the evening sky this summer, isn't it? 

Or maybe that is just Donald Trump's hair?

* Read 'Theodore Rex' by Edmund Morris and see if you don't agree that many of the same similarities between the eccentric and bombastic behavior of Teddy Roosevelt and Donald Trump 100 years later. Maybe we are due for another 'showman' like TR

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