A Calculated Candidacy

Donald Trump is no fool. He carefully calculated his run for the Republican nomination and it paid off. In an article published in the National Post on March 16, 2016, Conrad Black wrote:

Donald Trump polled extensively last year (2015) and confirmed his suspicion that between 30 and 40 per cent of American adults, cutting across all ethnic, geographic, and demographic lines, were angry, fearful and ashamed at the ineptitude of their federal government.

Americans, Trump rightly concluded, could not abide a continuation in office of those in both parties who had given them decades of shabby and incompetent government: stagnant family incomes, the worst recession in 80 years, stupid wars that cost scores of thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars and generated a humanitarian disaster, serial foreign policy humiliations, and particularly the absence of a border to prevent the entry of unlimited numbers of unskilled migrants, and trade deals that seemed only to import unemployment with often defective goods. I was one of those who thought at the outset that Trump was giving it a shot, and that if it didn’t fly it would at least be a good brand-building exercise.

Black pointed out that America had turned into a nation of idiots, incapable of doing anything except conduct military operations against primitive countries. The  performance of the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations, and the Gingrich, Reid-Pelosi, and Boehner-led congresses, and most of the courts, "had been shameful and unprecedented in American history." Black continued in his analysis of Trump's cunning:

Donald Trump’s research revealed that the people wanted someone who was not complicit in these failures and who had built and run something. Washington, Jackson, the Harrisons, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and others had risen as military heroes, though some of them had had some political exposure. Jefferson and Wilson were known as intellectuals, Madison as chief author of the Constitution, and Monroe and John Quincy Adams as international statesmen. What is called for now is a clean and decisive break from the personalities and techniques of the recent past. Donald Trump doesn’t remind anyone of the presidents just mentioned, but he elicited a surge of public support by a novel, almost Vaudeville, routine as an educated billionaire denouncing the political leadership of the country in Archie Bunker blue-collar terms.

By the time all was said an done, Trump took over the Republican Party, "demonstrating" according to Black, "his hold on the angry, the fearful, and the ashamed by passing the double test: he had held no elective office, but he was a worldly man who knew how to make the system workand rebuild American strength and public contentment."

But remember, almost 49% of the eligible voters did note vote. Yet they factored into and became part of Trump's target audience because they, too, were angry; they were just too angry to vote. 

Trump did his homework thoroughly; he determined there was a large voter audience that was vulnerable to the kinds of overtures he was ideally suite to make - that of the Washington outsider who could feel the anger and fear of that large audience and could seduce their votes by promoting himself as their savior. He is well-suited to carry the flag of these discontents because he himself is seething with anger and can use his enormous economic power to overpower his opposition and threaten and cajole those whom he desires to control.

Today, we heard him lash out in a televised interview that, "The world is a mess; it's as angry as it gets." His world view reflects that of the constituency that elected him - fear and anger.