Donald Trump is rising quickly in Republican primary polling, and while many people are scratching their heads and wondering why he’s so popular in the GOP right now, the answer to that is really quite simple. Donald Trump is yet another political celebrity who can say whatever he wants without fear of losing the nomination, because he was never in it to win to begin with.
Over the last couple of election cycles and with the rise of social media, we’ve seen people run for office with no intention of ever winning an election. These folks include Herman Cain, Sarah Palin and now, Donald Trump. Unlike candidates such as Bobby Jindal or Chris Christie (the two most hated governors in America), they’re running not out of political desperation. Instead, their candidacies are simply to raise their public image while funded by donations from gullible supporters who actually think they’re pursuing a government job rather than a paid contributor spot at Fox News, or elsewhere in the conservative media – and Donald Trump is no exception.
Jamelle Bouie explains over at Slate:
Trump doesn’t just represent the Republican base on immigration. He is the Republican base on immigration. His anxieties are their anxieties. And his rhetoric—a revanchist stew of foreign policy belligerence, small government ideology, anti-elite agitation, and raw bigotry—reflects and appeals to a meaningful part of the Republican electorate.
The good news is that this meaningful part is still a small minority of the Republican Party. The right-wing of American populism might be ugly and angry, but it’s not powerful. The bad news, on the other hand, is that you don’t have to be a majority to be influential. You just have to grab the right influence at the right time. Trump is a distraction, but don’t be surprised if a more credible candidate—like Walker, who can cloak his hard-right politics in suburban blandness—tries to bring Trump’s voters to his side. Alone, these voters won’t bring victory. But in a close fight, they could offer the winning points. (Source)
Say what you will about the Democrats, but there aren’t any candidates in the race that are political celebrities who haven’t held office. Hillary Clinton was a Secretary of State, a U.S. Senator from New York, and respected First Lady. Bernie Sanders has been active in politics for decades, he’s a respected liberal icon, and currently represents Vermont in the Senate. Martin O’Malley is a former governor, as is Lincoln Chaffee. Jim Webb, who is expected to join the race, is also a former senator, a Vietnam veteran, and Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan.
In comparison, much of the Republican field is a collection of has-been politicians, as well as a number of people who have never held political office of any kind. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump all have private sector experience, and nearly zero chance of even becoming the Republican nominee in 2016. That isn’t going to stop them as they have plenty of their own money to spend, and they’re running to make themselves famous in the political arena rather than actually be the next President of the United States.
This is why they can say such outrageous things like Donald Trump’s abhorrent remarks about Mexicans, because they have no chance of winning. When you’re playing with the cards that Donald Trump has, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain – at least in the political sphere.
Donald Trump isn’t running for president, he’s running for the ringmaster of the 2016 Republican primary circus, and he’s succeeding admirably thus far.
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