Have you ever been in a position where you wanted to tell a boss exactly how you feel about something, but held back, because you were afraid you might lose your job? Have you ever had a boss who would praise you to your face, and then make disparaging comments about you to others? Have you ever had a boss who is forever promising to do something, only to do nothing or even the opposite? Have you ever had a boss who talks about “letting people do their job,” only to micromanage every activity? Have you ever had a boss who constantly favors a small group of others in a way that makes you feel left-out and unimportant?
If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you are the type of person who could be drawn to supporting Donald Trump. Sure, he is crude, rude, and raucous and has the temperament of angry drunk, but there is something almost hypnotically compelling about watching Trump take on the “bosses” of both parties. Maybe it is the same attraction as watching a car wreck, but there is no denying his appeal to those who feel powerless, abused or discarded by the bosses of the establishment; and that includes most of us. Trump is willing to talk smack to power and express the gut feelings of those who have been given nothing but false promises and lies from political leaders and deemed irrelevant and outsourceable by the economic elite.
Supporting Trump is the way millions of frustrated voters can give the middle-finger salute to the ever expanding bastions of elitist political and economic power in this country. Americans have a history of cheering for the underdog, because all of us are underdogs. For millions, Trump is their David sent forth to slay the Goliath of economic inequity and rigged political power.
Trump is not qualified to take on the establishment
The triad of the economically powerful, the political establishment and the mainstream media all disparage Trump on the basis of his inexperience at governing, his blunt tell it as he sees it rhetoric, combined with his perceived racist feelings and disrespect for women. All of which is true about Trump. Trump may be the least qualified by temperament, experience and talent to ever be a serious candidate for president, but the establishment critics miss the point of Trump’s appeal.
Those who support Trump don’t care that he is not experienced or qualified. They don’t see that as a deficiency, but as an asset, because they know firsthand how poorly they have fared under the rule of experienced and qualified politicians. People who support Trump don’t do so out of logical reasoning, but out of a feeling of despair and frustration brought on by the existing political and economic establishment. There is a feeling of, “enough is enough and nothing could be worse that what we have.” Someone better qualified than Trump may come along to challenge and change the system, but those who support Trump are tired of waiting. They want change now.
It may seem incongruous that Trump, a billionaire member of the establishment, would become a crusader for those who feel disenfranchised and powerless, but it takes one with power to challenge power. There is little those outside the establishment can do to change it, but when one of its own attacks the system, it becomes a real threat. Trump may not be the perfect candidate, but his supporters feel he is the only hope they have to change the system.
Voters have a choice
Not since the 1964 election between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater have voters been presented with such a clear choice as they have now. While Johnson trounced Goldwater, a comparison is not exactly parallel, because Johnson was an incumbent president, still riding the emotional momentum of John Kennedy’s assassination and organized conservatism was still a nascent movement.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the establishment. She has spent 30 years trying to prove to the establishment that she is the establishment. No one is more experienced or qualified to represent the way things have been and how they will stay the same than Clinton. In Hillary’s own words and actions she communicates that if you like the way things have been in the past, you will love the way they will be in the future. The last thing Clinton stands for is change. In truth, Hillary’s campaign is all about resisting change.
If you listen closely, you will note that the core of Clinton’s campaign message has a negative tone based on fear. Her effort is to stoke the fear of Trump and the fear of change. Hillary offers the not so subtle message that you may not really like me, but that a vote for Trump is a vote for the unknown; and the unknown may be frightful. She is playing to the peculiarity that as much as people are frustrated and unhappy with the known, they are often paralyzed to act, based on the fear of the unknown that change can bring.
While Trump offers few specifics as to how he will bring about change, his core message is about challenging and changing the political and economic status quo. He seems to be basing his entire strategy (if he has one) on the belief that voters are so frustrated with the status quo of the establishment that they will vote for any change; even if they don’t understand what form the change will take.
How the voters decide
Change only comes about when people detest the status quo more than they fear the unknown of change. If the voters cast their ballots based on a stronger fear of the unknown that change will bring, rather than their negative feelings for the status quo, Clinton will win. But if they vote based on how they feel about continuation of the establishment status quo, irrespective of what form change will take, Trump will win.