Dealing the Trump Card: The Donald introduces a new populist dynamism in Election 2016
"It's a serious mistake to think Donald Trump is not a serious candidate who can reshape national presidential politics, if not the nation, in the 21st century."
By Steven Kurlander
When billionaire Donald Trump entered the race for the 2016 Republican nomination for president, I, like many political junkies, initially met his announcement with great skepticism.
Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post summed it up best:
"His announcement was greeted with something between incredulity (Trump has flirted with running many times before) and amazement (Trump is Trump). The prevailing sentiment seemed to be a collective eye roll and a laugh. That's the wrong reaction. Trump's candidacy is a terrible thing for politics, plain and simple. Here's why: Trump can't and won't be ignored. Ever."
Kevin D. Williamson wrote in the National Review Online an even more scathing critique titled "The Art of the Con, by Donald Trump." He writes, "Trump brings out two of the Right's worst tendencies: the inability to distinguish between entertainers and political leaders, and the habit of treating politics as an exercise in emotional vindication."
Even the "pop icon" Cher denounced the Donald, and his hair, too, threatening to relocate, ala Alec Baldwin to the planet Jupiter if Trump were to be elected in 2016:
"Donald Trump can't come up with a hairstyle that looks human, how can he come up with a plan to defeat ISIS," Cher said incredulously on Twitter.
In other words, Trump is nothing more than a political "assclown," a very wealthy demagogue who can put his campaign money where his mouth is.
Then I read his recent announcement, and changed my mind.
Remember when detractors denounced Ronald Reagan as a Bonzo B-movie actor throughout his career, or mocked another billionaire Ross Perot as "nutty" in his run in the 1992 presidential race?
Indeed, the denunciation of Donald Trump as a serious candidate may be very off-base, and even surreal in its own sense.
Trump may be the right candidate and the right time, and very good for politics indeed.
It's a serious mistake to think Donald Trump is not a serious candidate who can reshape national presidential politics, if not the nation, in the 21st century.
Trump can, and will, steer the debate closer to issues that have been misconstrued, if not wrongfully defined, for too long by politicians in both parties.
He states it like no one else on issues near and dear to the hearts of Americans, on both the left and on the right, sick and tired of a stagnant economy, endless war, an unresolved immigration policy quagmire, and many other ills afflicting our nation.
Trump smartly started his announcement by pointing out that our economy is in a standstill, and that many Americans are underemployed, if not out of work:
"Last quarter, it was just announced, our gross domestic product - a sign of strength, right? But not for us. It was below zero. Who ever heard of this? It's never below zero. Our labor participation rate was the worst since 1978. But think of it, GDP below zero, horrible labor participation rate, and our real unemployment is anywhere from 18-20 percent. Don't believe the 5.6. Don't believe it," Trump said.
Trump then went on to blame China and Mexico, too, for ruining our economy, about how ruinous Obamacare already is, and about how ineffective politicians in Washington are.
Despite the show that accompanied the announcement (which framed the subsequent denouements) Trump had the right talking points to garner and unite a new, major voting bloc much like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did during the times of severe political alienation in their initial successful runs for the White House.
Also, Trump can certainly raise an easy prerequisite $100 million in the next few months to run and gain momentum in the early primaries.
If he then organizes a serious grassroots effort in "fringe" states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida that love underdog, off-center candidates and performs well in early debates, he can succeed in translating his acerbic rhetoric into serious topics of discussion that can make him a very serious candidate and frame the whole election, too.
So seriously, much like Bernie Sanders is quietly gaining serious traction now in Iowa, we may also watch the Donald do the same in a heartland craving for the hope and change not delivered in the past eight years..
StevenKurlander blogs at Kurly's Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, N.Y.
Steven Kurlander is a New York Attorney and Communications Strategist who provides strategic communications and grassroots networking and marketing services to governmental, political, corporate and not-for-profit/association.
Read the Latest eNews From Sullivan County, the Catskills, & New York State
Read More Of Kurly's Columns in Writer's Workshop of Sullivan County
Bill O'Reilly Tears Up Kurlander's Sun Sentinel Column
Read Kurly's Book:
Sullivan business people work on business ‘plan B’ - Mid Hudson News
New focus on business urged during symposium in Sullivan - Times Herald Record
Sullivan County casino crusaders urge Orange County to speak out, say no - Times Herald Record
Read More of Kurly's Columns in the Huffington Post