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The American Mind

Trump, you have our attention

William Hillman

(10/2015) Like the locusts that appear every four years, it is presidential primary season all over again. All of the "want-to-be-president" politicians are fighting to see who can bore the American public into a catatonic state. Do we really need nine months of this drool? Has anyone told them the average American attention span is barely longer than 30 seconds? I think mine is down to 5. The primary is like a bad high school documentary that your burned-out social studies teacher makes you watch over and over again.

But wait. There is something different this year. There seems to be a new main character who snuck on the stage when no one was looking. "The Donald", a billionaire real estate mogul, turned reality TV host with a comb-over.

So grab some popcorn, this is getting interesting.

As of the mid September CNN/ABC poll, Donald Trump is holding onto the Republican primary with his 30% lead. A quick scan of other popular polls confirm, within a few percentage points, his massive lead. Personally, I find "The Donald" fascinating.

So why all the excitement over this personality with the funny hair? What is it about Donald Trump that makes him so appealing to so many? Who would ever vote for this over-privileged billionaire? Surely no blue-collar, middle class, working American would ever vote for him, right? Not so fast. Those blue-collar, middle class Americans, mostly male, are Trump's base.

But why?

That answer is simple: his personality and the issues his campaign focuses on attract these blue-collar, middle class American males.

To anyone who watched the Republican debates, it is very clear that Trump is comfortable with himself and exudes a great air of confidence. Most of the other candidates seem uncomfortable on the stage at times stumbling, often looking for the right words. Take Trump out of those debates and they could have been used as a cure for insomnia.

Trump has an incredible aura of confidence. When asked how he would turn the economy around and create more jobs, Trump looked into the camera and said, "Iíll just do it". No other politician could get away with that, but Trump has.

I consider myself a jaded political observer and a real skeptic. I have a great distrust of all politicians, including Trump. But when he looks at the camera and says, "Iíll just do it", I think to myself, "I believe he will." Then I come out of my trance and remember these are all just political promises.

Trump is also a fighter. What beer-drinking American does not like a fighter? We like big hearted tough guys who stand up when someone is pushing a little guy around. Just last weekend I watched Rocky for what might be the 100th time. I still get emotional when I think of my old football coach standing up and yelling, "No one comes into our house and pushes us around."

This country has had seven years of a president who had all the fight of a ball of lint. His knees must hurt from all the kneeling he does in front of other world leaders.

Just last week, a journalist from Univision tried to disrupt Donald Trumpís press conference. Trump put the rude reporter in his place. He then had the reporter removed from the room. By comparison, Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders held a rally during which two protesters walked on stage and took over the microphone. Unlike Trump, Sanderís response was to step aside and let it happen.

A word on Trumpís charisma. Trumpís charisma is what seems to be driving the debate and controlling the issues of this Republican primary. He is forcing the rest of the pack to focus on the topic that he is most attentive to.

Trump has picked the right issues for this demographic base. There are more Americans unemployed today than there were in the recession of the 70s. Wages for the working class have slowly dropped over the last 10 years. The promise of good jobs that come with college education is eroding. There is a growing anger in the middle class. Trump never stops talking about jobs. He never stops talking about immigration.

Immigration and illegal immigration are topics that most politicians are afraid of. Anyone who suggests that we build a wall to keeps illegals out is labeled a racist. Trump is forcing them to talk about illegals and they hate it. But if the Republicans have any shot of ever gaining control of the White House, they are going to have to talk about overhauling the immigration system and stopping Illegal immigration.

Obama won the White House because white males without college degrees sat home during the last two presidential elections. The Republicans cannot win the White House without this group of people. This is the demographic group that is most affected by job loss due to illegal immigrants. Their income has steadily dropped between the years 2000 and 2013. When Trump talks about manufacturing jobs being sent overseas or down to Mexico, he is speaking to this group and they are listening.

I don't actually believe that Trump will win. Never, in recent memory, has a candidate who has lead this early, survived the first few primaries. There is no reason for Trump to be any different. Also, his negative poll numbers are around 56%. By comparison, Hillary hovers around 40%. Those numbers are way too high for him to be a viable candidate. But I could be wrong.

As a political figure, I believe he will be around for a long time. I hope his issues will be a permanent part of this presidential race. We will see him on the podium at the Republican National Convention. And maybe he will run for another office. Iím sure he will end up with his own show on some cable News network.

So Mr. Trump, please keep the excitement up and best of luck to you.

Read other articles by Bill Hillman