PIQUERO: We are witnessing Donald Trump’s political downfall
Opinions Column: The Principled Millennial
Like a train barreling through a brick wall at full speed, the campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump has completely crashed and burned.
In my first column for The Daily Targum I expressed my support for Trump and my belief that, despite being counted out from the outset, he very well could defy expectations and become the next President of the United States.
My belief was grounded in the fallacy that his campaign would take a new turn, that the wildly narcissistic and self obsessed Trump would give way to the Trump that gave a voice to millions of unheard Americans, one who spoke frankly about the issues and gave hard-nosed solutions.
I was mostly wrong.
On the one hand, the Trump campaign (and to a smaller extent, the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton) has done a profoundly poor job at crafting a good candidate. Trump’s constant late-night tweeting, insistence on declaring the election rigged and the inability to stay on message defy common sense and lay credence to the charge that the campaign is in turmoil and can’t control their candidate.
On the other hand, however, I had naively forgotten the twisted and destructive force that is contemporary media. I don’t believe that it is an “allegation” anymore that the media is entirely owned and operated by the liberal elite. At this stage, the verdict is out and the defendant is guilty as charged.
The media has not only colluded with the Clinton campaign (a fact that is unsurprisingly left out of most mainstream media coverage), it has also failed to report in any meaningful way the massive Wikileaks dump of Clinton staff emails and all but declared war against Republicans and the Trump campaign. It is no coincidence that, through August, journalists have contributed more than $382,000 to the Clinton campaign compared with only $14,000 for Trump. Trump’s assertion that the media is “rigged” against him, therefore, has validity.
You would think that, knowing this information full well, Trump would fight against the caricature the media created for him and stick to the real issues. You would also think that he would use his position as an outsider to promote himself as an agent of change. Well, instead of running on a platform of change, he has ran on a platform of narcissism.
Trump’s greatest flaw, and one which I believe will ultimately lead to his downfall, is his inability to deflect criticisms and focus on the real issues. This inability was on full display at the first debate, and is a large reason for his tremendous slide in the polls. To say that he has been “distracted” would be a gross understatement. The last few weeks have seen leading news headlines concerning Trump’s 2005 hot mic comments, the unsubstantiated claim by 10 separate women who claim Trump touched them without consent and the leaking of Trump’s 1995 tax return, which showed he claimed a $916 million loss that could have allowed him to legally avoid paying taxes for 18 years.
It is undeniable that all of these topics are newsworthy and deserve media scrutiny. The words and alleged actions by Trump are inexcusable and repugnant, and I do think it is important to review his tax returns and compare it with prior statements he may have made. But, given the stakes of this election, do they demand greater attention than economic issues? Foreign policy? Social issues? You’d be hard pressed to make that argument.
What is perhaps the most dispiriting thing about the Trump campaign is that, hidden beneath the incoherent ramblings of its leader, there is often truth to be told. Trump’s message undeniably resonates with a large group of Americans who feel left out and disaffected by the economic stagnation of the last 8 years. They feel disheartened that millions of illegal immigrants have poured through our borders unabated. They fear the rising tide of radical terrorism from the Islamic State and the Obama Administration’s capitulation to the Iranian mullahs. They yearn for a better America for themselves and their children. Trump has given voice to an angry electorate that demands change and strong leadership.
The Trump campaign, however, seems to be drunk at the wheel, combatting personal allegations with wild conspiracy theories. They have made it a mission to respond to every criticism with heartless and downright baffling responses. They are a campaign without direction, an organization with many goals but few plans of achieving them.
Although I have said in the past that I would not bet against a Trump victory in November, I would recommend anyone to reevaluate those odds.
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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