PIQUERO: Trump has uncanny ability to rebound
Opinions Column: The Principled Millennial
Blink, and you just might have missed that Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is neck and neck against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to some polls.
No, that isn't an exaggeration, and no, that is not a bad thing.
The rise to fame of Donald Trump is something that perplexes the media, the political “establishment” and yes, even the academics that teach at our top institutions. When Trump first announced his candidacy for President of the United States, the so-called “pundit class” instantly wrote him off as a buffoon, a man with no principles and limited intellectual prowess who could not possibly gain traction in a field of impressive candidates such as the young up-and-coming Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the seasoned Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) and the always fiery Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.). Some pundits viewed the 2016 GOP nominee class as the best the GOP has fielded in over 30 years.
That begs the question: With such a talented crop of political veterans who made a career in debating, crafting and communicating public policy, and becoming experts on important matters of governance, why did Donald Trump totally eviscerate the competition? How was it possible that a man who spent his whole life erecting large buildings in Manhattan and starring in reality television shows that displayed his trademark brash and combative personality could possibly have the political skills to take on not five, not 10, not 15 ... but 17 (!) political foes.
Well, I’m not going to pretend like there is one large encompassing answer to that complex question, but I will attribute Trump’s rise with two words: common sense.
As the old saying goes, “common sense isn't too common.” The writing was on the walls all along, but the elites who control our nation — the media, government and educational institutions — were blind to it.
People are tired of politics as usual. They see candidates with highly scripted messages offering them vague and stale promises. They see political professionals on both sides of the aisles running their mouths in Congress, but getting nothing done. They see career politicians profiting from public service, taking money from interest groups whom they are forever indebted to. The list goes on and on, and it took an outsider to point out what was already well known and despised.
I have to admit, my support of Trump was not immediate, but gradual. I went into the primaries with an open mind just like many Republican primary voters. At first I had a slight inclination of supporting Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), then was attracted to the freshman Rubio, who had an intriguing back story and compelling oratory. I was excited that the GOP had fielded a crop of exciting candidates with big name recognition and surprisingly diverse principles. I, as did many, did not sense the lion in the brush.
I can vividly remember the first moment Trump caught my eye, and it wasn't his explosive entranceway into the world of politics on July 16, 2015. It wasn't the string of outlandish statements that garnered signifiant media attention, but little serious attention. It was the first GOP debate. The infamous Rosie O’Donnell quip, his refusal to pledge not to run as an independent, the declaration of war against political correctness, the wholesale denunciation of the War in Iraq, his straightforward and cutthroat responses. Something about his performance screamed real to me. He presented such a dramatic contrast to the other politicians on stage that the only way to describe it is a breath of fresh air.
One by one, Trump began systematically taking down his opponents through unconventional methods, oftentimes exposing what was well known but considered “off limits” in a conventional primary contest. He laid out a realistic image of the political status-quo, combined that with common sense solutions to fixing problems facing our nation and instantly garnered traction as nominee after nominee failed to match up to Trump’s overwhelming charisma and ability to convey a sense of honesty and authenticity that the field was sorely lacking. This also explains the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), someone who the elites gave little attention to until it became clear that he was in the fight for the Democratic nomination against Clinton for the long haul.
This eventually brings us to the present-day. Fifty days after Trump received the nomination and began his general election campaign against Clinton — a candidate who is the very embodiment of politics as usual — the two are deadlocked in most major polls. Counted out once again by the pundit class at the start of this cycle, Trump has displayed an almost uncanny ability to rebound. With only 61 days to election day on Nov. 8, does Trump have one more colossal upset in store for us?
I wouldn’t bet against it.
Michael Piquero is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and history. His column, “The Principled Millennial,” runs on alternate Fridays.
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