June 26, 2016 Leave a comment
I’ve been watching Trump’s rise to power in the Republican party, and witnessed the growing support from the “average” Republican while GOP leaders have frantically searched for a way out of the mess they find themselves in.
I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t initially stunned by his popularity – but I would be a fool to say that upon further reflection, I don’t understand.
As the primaries reach a boiling point, I watch as “NeverTrump” supporters fling cold insults of superiority, citing Trump supporters lack of education, sophistication, and common sense. I’d point out that these “superior” opines lack compassion and a sense of responsibility.
What the people of “NeverTrump” have forgotten is that a large number of people – and some may say, the majority – are operating from a place of instability, a feeling of being unsafe in their ability to live beyond the next paycheck. They lack the opportunities of quality education, safe neighborhoods, and reliable social networks with enough esteem to provide a buffer against joblessness and losing their homes.
They are asking Trump’s loyal followers to reason beyond their day-to-day existence and consider the larger political and world economic picture. They are being asked to, once again, put aside their real needs, and vote for the greater good.
Trump’s Advantage Over the GOP
For many years, the Republican party has run on a thin platform of “Family Values”, with trickle down economics thrown in. They’ve heralded their “Pro-Life” policies and defended the “Right to Bear Arms”. They’ve galvanized the majority of supporters around these “threats” while subsequently working against the Affordable Care Act and Medicare coverage increases, and advocating for reduced spending on social welfare programs.
I work in marketing, and we spend a lot of time researching target markets and identifying core needs. While not being able to have a gun to protect themselves from their married gay neighbors driving women to get abortions may seem like valid needs, I would argue that these issues really don’t address the true core needs of the “average” Republican.
As I see it, “average” voters want:
- Secure jobs
- Access to healthcare that won’t bankrupt them
- A chance to get a leg up in a system that seems insistent on keeping them down by keeping money out of their pockets and elite networks of influence out of reach.
The fact that the Republican party has been resting primarily on moral laurels with the vast majority of their constituents, I’m frankly astounded that they are surprised by Trump’s rise in popularity.
His plan is simple:
- Keep immigrants OUT and away from American jobs
- Negotiate better with China to keep American factories from moving offshore
- Simplify the tax code to keep businesses healthy enough to hire American employees
Trump advocates for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which in his view has resulted in:
- Runaway costs
- Dysfunctional websites (access)
- A barrier to access via rationing
- Higher premiums
- Fewer medical choices
This is nothing new to the Republican party, but it’s a platform he maintains for all the right strategic reasons.
He is also taking on the Veteran’s Administration and their ability to care for wounded warriors. A noble cause for anyone to advocate for, Republican or Democrat.
His last platform is guns. American’s love their guns and fear they will be taken away.
From a marketing standpoint, Trump ran a better campaign than the dozen+ contenders that started out in this race. He identified the “average” Republican’s points of of pain, and hit HARD on SIMPLE messaging that helped people believe he’s the one to “Make America Great Again”.
The GOP elite are scratching their heads wondering how this could have happened? Really?
They were hoping their constituents could see past Trump’s rhetoric, but never stopped to consider that these same constituents bought into the old platform and never questioned many of the party’s policies despite being at fundamental odds with their own self-interest?
In this primary election, the Trump supporters finally got something right:
They stopped focusing on morality issues that affect their after-life, and started looking for the nominee to make their real lives better. And still keep their guns.
No amount of rational debate about the efficacy of Trump’s plans will be heard by his supporters because he represents a Republican nominee that “understands” the plight of the average American and wants to fight for them. They’ve been swept aside by the GOP and placated with moral stances for too. Having someone truly in their corner is enough and now Donald Trump has garnered raving fans ready to buy, despite a one day return policy in four years.
If there can be a silver lining that can emerge from Trump’s rise in popularity, I can only hope that the Republican party wakes up and recognizes that moral superiority is no longer a reasonable platform – and they start working on developing policies for their majority who have now spoken.
For the record, I’m a Democrat. But I believe that we are only as strong as our weakest link. We have been a two-party system, and it doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. If one half of our political system looks like Trump, we are all in trouble. His brand of politics is fueled by hate and ignorance – and it’s frightening. I can only hope that this year’s election makes the Republican party rethink their platform and try to right their ship so that Trump can never happen again.