I like him personally. I’ve been to his office. I’ve observed him privately dealing with his staff and people coming inside his building. He is personally, when the cameras are turned off, an incredibly gracious person. I know many people who do not believe that because all they see is the public Trump, but when the lights are down, the cameras are turned off, and Donald Trump, not “The Donald”, is present, he’s a good guy.
Not only that, but as I’ve mentioned before, Trump Hotels are some of the best I’ve ever stayed in. I try never to miss an opportunity to stay in the Trump Chicago and the Trump Hotel on Central Park has generated fond memories for my family.
Donald Trump is not my cup of tea as a candidate. I’m more into candidates who try to lift us to the better angels of ourselves and I do not think his campaign is doing that right now. Before I started writing about politics, I worked in politics. As a rule of thumb, I think anger burns out and it is tough to sustain over time. If Donald Trump really has become a conservative, I take St. Paul to heart that we should not put new converts in charge. He needs some time helping the movement before he leads the movement.
At the same time, so many of us, myself included, have been wrong about Trump’s appeal. I have tried to steer clear of the rank condescension towards Trump supporters because a lot of people have legitimate grievances against the government and Trump resonates with them.
Whether you think Trump is an opportunist or not is irrelevant. All politicians are. Trump is a businessman who saw an opportunity and took it. He has, in the process, done several commendable things.
First, he exposed the consultant class of the GOP as profiteering charlatans. They have been unable to come up with a strategy to stop Donald Trump, build up the establishment candidates, or do anything other than make a mint off losing candidates. Trump’s campaign is, compared to the consultant class in D.C., an island of misfit toys and those misfit toys are kicking the GOP’s ass.
Second, Trump has exposed just how much contempt the GOP Establishment has for conservatives. As we get closer and closer to Iowa, the very consultants Trump has been crushing are now openly flirting with Trump as an alternative to Cruz. Their reasoning, which they are admitting in public, is that they see Trump as an opportunist and they fear and loath Ted Cruz because he is too principled. These are stunning admissions from a group of people who’ve paid for their beach houses by wooing conservatives to give them money for decades.
Third, Trump has again blown the door off the idea that Super PACs are a cure all for Republicans. They are not. The media and political left want to crack down on Super PACs and stop money from flowing into politics. After this year, the political left should be begging Republican donors to create Super PACs.
Fourth, Trump has shown that Republican donors continue to be suckers. Exactly how much money have these donors poured into losing causes that scratch their personal itches and no others? Donald Trump is looked down on by a lot of these Republican donors and he has been kicking the butts of the very men and efforts they have funded. Republican donors have less and less in common with Republican voters and Trump’s candidacy has not only exposed that, but also shown that the voters can still best the donors.
Fifth, Donald Trump has finally opened people’s eyes to the dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C. on a bipartisan basis. Donald Trump’s candidacy would never have occurred if people were happy with the status quo. What the people see is a Washington elite now rallying to preserve their status quo. The voters have taken to Trump because he is an outsider and because he conveys a contempt of Washington that the voters have long had and the press has long ignored. Much of the media still refuses to take Donald Trump seriously, as do many Republicans. But a third of Republican voters take him very seriously and a smart businessman whose army is carrying torches and pitchforks will not so easily accommodate a Washington political class thinking it can co-opt Donald Trump.
I would prefer Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to Donald Trump. I want a conservative President and, should Trump genuinely be converted to the principles of Hayek, Friedman, Kirk, etc., I think he needs time in the trenches of the movement to show his conversion sticks.
But I would gladly vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat. He has bested the consultant class at its own game for now and the only one giving him a run for his money is Ted Cruz who, like Trump, has refused to use the D.C. political class to advance in the field.
Whether Trump makes it out of Iowa the winner or not, Republicans will owe Trump thanks for exposing their fault lines and flaws and showing just how inept, corrupt, and out to lunch the Washington Republican consultant class has become.