I haven't been paying lots of attention to the 2016 presidential race so far. I don't even know which candidates I would like to see win, and trying to decide that seems a little pointless right now. I took an online quiz recently, which then matched up my answers compared to various candidate positions, and put me closest to Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. I guess that's nice, though I don't know very much about either person, and whether they end up as their party's nominee is hard to predict. So again, deciding which one I like most is a bit pointless right now.
Then there's Donald Trump. He's made some rather unflattering statements about illegal immigrants from Mexico (saying Mexicans aren't sending their best to America, but rather their rapists, drug dealers, and other such criminal scum), and then insulted John McCain by saying he's no hero for getting captured in Vietnam. I hear people are getting excited about this kind of rhetoric, and that his standing on opinion polls is currently ahead of any other Republican candidate by double digits. I haven't looked at those polls or other data sources, but still, I just shake my head at the whole thing.
My opinions about our illegal immigrant situation has undergone some moderation over the past ten years, but even if Trump had made such statements when I was fresh out of college and more idealistic about things, I would have thought his words shocking, inappropriate, and unwise. Hispanics may get less attention as a minority group in America compared to blacks, but they're growing quickly, and any political party interested in having a future would do well to show hispanics that they have a place at the American table.
What amazes me most is that there are any people at all who agree with Trump's statements. For years, I've heard liberals say that conservatives are xenophobic racists, and I inwardly protest at the idea. Now, to see people supporting Trump because he says such ugly things--I emphasize, supporting him not despite such statements, but because of them--I can't help but feel disgusted and disappointed that such liberal slanders turned out to have any basis in reality. Now, realizing liberals were right about conservatives in this area doesn't mean I'm going through an identity crisis; as long as liberals oppose liberty (for example, the Second Amendment) and celebrate immorality (most recently, same sex marriage) I will never identify with them. But if Trump ends up being the kind of person the Republicans choose for their candidate, I'd rather throw my vote away on a third party candidate than ever consider voting for him.
Ginny and I have both felt rather baffled by the whole situation. Then recently I came across a column on LinkedIn
, which offered an explanation similar to what we've been thinking. First, a rambling introduction, but then the author explains his idea, which is that Trump is using the same strategy as the people who send out emails pretending to be Nigerian royalty:
The Nigerian 419 strategy is to have a misspelled email from the son of some deceased Prince who needs all your bank info in order to release $20 million that he will eagerly split with you.
Then he steals all of your money.
Why is the email misspelled? After decades of Nigerians sending the exact same email, why is it always mis-spelled? And, by the way, the OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF NIGERIA IS ENGLISH.
There's a simple reason. Anybody in the top 90% of rational people know that a misspelled email coming from a Nigerian prince is a scam.
The Nigerians don't want to deal with those 90%. Even if you sent a perfectly spelled letter with a much more realistic story, those 90% will figure it out. Then the scammer will have wasted his time. He doesn't want to waste time.
Then he applies the Nigerian royalty logic to Trump's campaign:
He is saying the most stupid, most outrageous things because he's immediately filtering out the 90% that will never like him anyway.
The 12% that are left have managed to jump over AMAZING hurdles to keep liking him. Who could possibly like him after this?
There are clearly ZERO other candidates for these 12%. Trump represents exactly what they are thinking and he used the fastest approach possible to identify those 12%.
Because of the Idiot 12% - In the first weeks of February, Trump will come in a respectable, 2nd or 3rd in Iowa, New Hampshire, and definitely South Carolina (which after 150 years finally admitted they belong in the United States and slavery is bad).
Then he will drop out of the race and form a third party. Once he forms a third party, he will be able to raise a ton of money, appease his ego, scam people for the next decade, and enter the next stage of his insane career.
Ginny's take on the matter is that he's just a troll. But instead of inflaming message boards online, as most garden-variety trolls do, he's inflaming the presidential primary process of a major political party, because he's a self-absorbed jerk with a lot of money who's doing this just because he can. But no matter his motivation, the Republicans are making themselves out as fools for even giving him the time of day.
My own explanation for why he has so much more apparent popularity than the other candidates is quite simple. Right now, there are 16 candidates vying to become the Republican nominee. Most of them are fairly similar to each other on most issues. So when one person jumps out from the rest of the herd and (in this case) plays on some of the people's basest feelings, that gets noticed. Never mind that the vast majority of the party faithful aren't following along, because that majority is split amongst 15 other similar candidates who have chosen (so far) not to rile people up with crazy and undiplomatic ideas.
Despite such an explanation, I still have unanswered questions. First one is, besides Donald Trump, what does Donald Trump stand for? In other words, what does he intend to bring to the presidency, besides his own arrogant self? I've called Obama our Narcissist-in-Chief on numerous occasions, but Trump could make him look the picture of meekness in comparison. So, what will America gain (and what will it lose) by having Trump as president?
My other question, and this one is more immediately relevant, is what does Trump hope to accomplish by his recent statements? If he wants Republicans to look like xenophobic racists, and wants to drive our growing hispanic population toward the Dimocrat party--a party gloating and cackling with glee at this development, I might add--he's sure doing a first rate job of it. Perhaps he really wants another Dimocrat president; without the hispanic vote, Republicans certainly won't have any chance at getting a president elected in the future. Even when he doesn't get the nomination, the party will have been tainted for having given him any support at all.
When liberals speak of Donald Trump, surely they must have Colonel Klink's famous line in mind: "When you have a man like that for an enemy, you don't need any friends."