Monday, May 2, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Reinventing The Political Wheel

Say what you will, Donald Trump has done what few persons
in U.S. history have done --- he has upended a long-standing,
but slowly evolving, political process, and created, at least for
the time being, a new presidential nominating campaign

It appears he was done it more or less improvisationally,
combined with years of experience in show business, public
relations and self-promotion, and has done it primarily by
himself with only limited counsel from others.

This, in itself, is no small achievement, and if, as now looms
as fairly certain, Mr. Trump is nominated for president by the
Republican Party at its national convention in Cleveland in
July, he will have made major if improbable history as few
others have ever done.

In 2007-08, we witnessed an inexperienced, amateur politician
with almost no public record wrest the Democratic Party
nomination from one of the savviest political couples of all
time by persistence and innovative calculation, so perhaps we
were preconsciously prepared for a second non-professional
political figure to overcome so many odds and so many
expectations --- and succeed him. 

“Image” has long been considered a vital factor in creating
political success. Donald Trump has added “language” to the
formula, albeit not the elegant and eloquent kind of language
that Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy
employed, but a blunt, earthy, colloquial and often rude public
language that set him apart quickly from 16 rivals.

His visual image alone, in fact, was almost a cartoon ---
primarily an outrageous hair styling --- that seemed to many
observers alone to be disqualifying. An otherwise tall and
impressive stature seemed undercut by idiosyncratic and
odd hand motions. His language itself was immediately
jarring -- to the ears of the mainstream media and the old
political class.

None of the above, however, seemed inappropriate to so many
grass roots voters on the conservative side. Bullied for years
by “politically-correct” liberal tactics, as well as ridiculed by left
and right activists and their media allies, a significant portion of
grass roots working and middle class voters found a champion
in the fearless tycoon who dared to say what they were thinking,
and refused to back down when challenged by almost the entire
strata of political establishments in both parties.

In spite of his “rich kid” upbringing, private school and Ivy
League education, immense wealth and his presumptive
manner, an ignored and vilified class of voters had found
someone who could deliver “pay-back” for the political slights
suffered for years, as well as articulate their anxious concerns.

Employing the eternal “squeaky wheel” technique in the
televised debates and public appearances, Donald Trump
gained perhaps a billion dollars (or more) of media coverage
and publicity without spend very many of his own cash
(and while his opponents spent hundreds of millions to fail
to obtain what he received mostly for free.)

Expected to be one of the first to fall out of the race, he will
probably be the last person standing. You couldn’t make this
story up --- and no one did in advance.

If the rise and success of Donald Trump to this point was
predicted by no one, and with the incongruous success
(short of the nomination) of Democrat (and socialist) Bernie
Sanders equally unanticipated, what makes anyone think
they can foresee what will happen next, and in November?

In show business,  most novels and soap operas, spectacles
such as this one lead either to a happy or unhappy ending.
This event, however, leads to something else. One of the
nominees is going to be hired in November, and the other is
going to be fired (remind you of something?), and then the
real show will begin with no ending in sight.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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