Feature:Opinion

Why Trump is leading and what it really means

Photo of John Ziegler
John Ziegler
Contributor

After the 2008 election, I spent an enormous amount of time and money documenting the media-induced ignorance of Obama voters for my documentary film, “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.” The video I shot of Obama voters on Election Day has been seen by over 2.5 million people (not including millions more via television coverage) on YouTube.

The two scientific polls I commissioned to back up the video proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that Obama voters were frighteningly misinformed about basic facts like which party controlled Congress. While McCain voters weren’t exactly “A” social studies students, at least they fared significantly better.

I have always believed that, in general, Republicans are far more informed than Democrats. I thought this was true mostly because very few people are born “conservative” and therefore some sort of education process has to take place for one to emerge from the natural human state of being a liberal.

However, the emergence of Donald Trump as the sudden “frontrunner” for the Republican presidential nomination has made me question just about everything I thought I knew about GOPers.

How in the world a soulless self-promoter who has declared bankruptcy several times, defaulted on huge loans, claimed that George W. Bush was “evil” and the worst president of all time, had a pro-life conversion that makes Mitt Romney’s seem credible, praised Obama in 2008,  recently donated to liberal Democrats, once supported universal healthcare, possesses no apparent knowledge of basic civics, already threatened to run as an independent and ensure Obama’s reelection, and probably doesn’t even have the money to self-finance a legitimate campaign, got to this position literally overnight is one of the most depressing developments in the history of the party.

While I am not yet panicked that somehow Trump will be the eventual nominee (though after watching Obama win in 2008, my view of what is politically possible has expanded enough to at least include that among the theoretically possible outcomes), there is no doubt that even if Trump never actually gets in the race, he has already had a profound and permanent impact on it.

Before I get into what Trump’s rocketing to the top of the polls really means, I wish to examine how this has happened.

Obviously, the primary reason that this has occurred is that we have become such a bizarrely celebrity-obsessed culture (and therefore our ratings-driven media is totally celebrity-driven) that if one is well known enough, then literally nothing is off the table. It is almost as if we have created an unofficial class of royalty whose members are automatically taken seriously in almost any endeavor simply because they are one of the “chosen people.”

What makes this development particularly offensive is that there isn’t any distinction between fame and infamy anymore. Being well known is just about all that matters, regardless of how or why it happened.

So when Trump approached CPAC with the proposal to speak (for what would become an episode of his Golf Channel reality show), he already had at least half of the credentials needed to qualify for a spot on the podium: He was famous enough to “trump” his extremely questionable “conservatism.” While obviously I can’t prove it, based on what I know about how things are done at CPAC (as a former co-sponsor), I would be surprised if some sort of “donation” from Trump didn’t smooth over any lingering doubts that they may have had about handing over the conference to such an obvious fraud.

  • torispelling

    As of yet, there’s no Republican consensus of the “right” candidate; hence the field is ripe for temporary “winners”. If Trump leaps to the forefront, it’s mainly out of a sense that we need a wider field, not out of any widespread belief in Trump.

    I’m not convinced Trump is a serious candidate. He may have stepped in just to make the debate more lively, not to mention publicizing himself. The birth certificate thing is rather interesting…at first I thought it was a kooky diversion, but 1) It is pretty odd that Obama doesn’t just release the darned birth certificate and end the odd lines of speculation; instead he’s devoted considerable resources to keeping the long form locked down, and 2) the birth certificate, whatever its factual merits may be, is weirdly symbolic of our sense that Obama isn’t looking out for America’s best interests. So I’m somewhat grateful to Trump for pushing this button that “respectable” candidates steer clear of.

    For me, seeing the nation desperately needs an alternative to Obama, and not in love with the current crop of Republican wannabes…well, if I don’t have answers myself, I’ll look to people I respect who aren’t themselves candidates, and see who they end up endorsing. At this point, I think I’d be highly swayed if Allen West and Rand Paul were to endorse the same person.

  • Swen

    If The Donald runs RINO Romney out of the race he will have served a useful purpose. Then, don’t read too much into the polls. No one has cast a single vote for Trump yet. He’s a media sensation and largely a media creation, of course the media cover him and every word he says, they see him as a huge embarrassment to the Republican party — it tickles them no end to make him out to be the hair apparent.

    Meanwhile, Trump is no dummy, he’s perfectly happy to take all the free publicity they’ll give him. But he’s also got to be smart enough to know that the press will savage him like a pack of rabid vampires if, by some freakish set of circumstances, he were to win the Republican nomination. Trump has a lot of dirty laundry and the press would delight in pulling every pair of tighty whiteys out of the hamper and describing every stain. He’s the liberals’ GOP dream candidate, someone who Obama can beat.

  • AJ

    My view of it doesn’t really line up with this article, or the opposite view. A few points:

    1) Donald Trump is not a joke candidate. The fact that he has been in the public eye and cultivated a media persona does not make him a superficial character. The title of his huge 80s book, “The Art of the Deal” pretty much sums it up. He is a master salesman, and a major figure in the world of real estate. He’s smarter than 99% of people out there, including most of the people trashing him.

    2) I think his popularity at this point is very comparable to Rudy Giuliani’s last time around. It seems likely that he will similarly fall off at some point, although you never know.

    3) I would vote for a coat rack over Mitt Romney, the favorite candidate of the establishment and the elites. If he is the nominee, I will not vote in the general election. He is the epitome of a phony professional politician, and the complete opposite of what the American people want and need right now. He will be beaten so badly by Obama it will make Obama look like World Emperor again. Is Trump also a phony? Maybe, but he’ll be raked over the coals soon enough. I already know what Romney is.

    4) The rest of the Republican field is lackluster. Every potential candidate has drawbacks, and none of them seem poised to rise to the top. Ultimately, it may be better to swing for the fences with Trump than whimper into a guaranteed loss with any of the rest.

  • Paul Murphy

    Dear Mr. Ziegler:

    I thought your documentaries right on the mark – but your assumption here that there’s nothing to the birther business is. I think, naive. I’ve reviewed this –
    check the faq on my site at http://www.winface.com/birth.html for 5 minute briefing – and the number of things we don’t know about Mr. Obama turns out to mirrow what a lot of his supporters didn’t know or understand about his policies. Please check for yourself.

  • isnrblog

    Actually, they are aluminum foil hats and make sure yours is well grounded. I have an advanced degree in engineering, I am an entrepreneur and am a Republican/Conservative and Tea Party Member and you have no idea what you’re talking about in this poorly researched screed you call an article.
    We, the citizens of the United States, need someone to stand up to the Progressive/Socialist agenda being thrust upon us. Obama is intentionally trying to break the capitalistic system so he can replace it with a European style Socialist state. Have you actually read Saul Alinsky or Cloward and Piven? Evidently not.
    Ok, so celebrity has become a factor in the Presidential equation. So be it. Reagan was a movie actor, with some good credentials as a Governor. He was the greatest President of the last 100 years. After Carter, we were lucky to get him.
    Trump is a tough talking, egotist. You have to be an egotist of the highest sort to want to be President to begin with, but he is a tough talking, egotist that makes a lot of sense. He knows money and business. His ideas are practical and doable. After Obama, we’ll be very lucky to get Trump.
    A lot of us “tin hat” wearing morons like him. Perhaps a majority.

  • behonest

    I think the american people are at the brink, we will vote for anyone that speak out against this sociolist regime. Anybody will be better than this mess we are in. I would love someone else to speak out and defend the tea party

    • behonest

      p.s Zeigler is not a RINO you never heard him on the radio He lost quite a few gigs for speaking out. I just don’t like his big lib friend in Kentucty

  • jae

    Well, well, well, Ziegler is a typical “non-birther” RHINO pea in the pod, who like all other RHINO-peas in the elitist pod offers ABSOLUTELY NO rational basis for disparaging and insulting the “birthers,” who at least are considering the Constitution and the rule of law. Another form of “elitisim,” very similar to the “warmers” who are just CERTAIN that the Earth is about to melt. Do you think you really think you EVEN know who this Obama guy is, Mr. Z? Just WHAT THE HELL is wrong about asking for a real birth certificate and some details about his life. We know his books are lies. Doesn’t that bother you?

    BTW, I can’t stand Trump, but he at least has more balls than your average RHINO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jasmine-Clark/1785223171 Jasmine Clark

    well this was an interesting article…

    i read the headline and immediately thought “i can answer that.” XD he’s leading because he’s a tough talker. this article is correct.

    “How in the world a soulless self-promoter who has declared bankruptcy several times, defaulted on huge loans, claimed that George W. Bush was “evil” and the worst president of all time, had a pro-life conversion that makes Mitt Romney’s seem credible, praised Obama in 2008, recently donated to liberal Democrats, once supported universal healthcare, possesses no apparent knowledge of basic civics, already threatened to run as an independent and ensure Obama’s reelection, and probably doesn’t even have the money to self-finance a legitimate campaign, got to this position literally overnight is one of the most depressing developments in the history of the party.”

    i have nothing to add to the above quote.

    “Whether they would return to her if she were to announce is unknown, but the fact that they have at least temporarily abandoned her in polls saps her cause of energy and leverage.”

    don’t worry, anyone who temporarily abandoned her for trump is right back on her side after her speech yesterday!!

    “No one knows if Palin is even running”

    people who watched the speech sure know…

    i agree with you about trump hurting romney, at least a little bit. about pawlenty, i don’t think he ever had much of a chance. i don’t see a lot of people interested in him.

  • Govicide

    No team, or person, should get so much credit for going undefeated in the pre-season. We shouldn’t give this guy so much credit for being out front when being out front right now doesn’t mean anything. My suspicion is that Donald Trump has a glass jaw. He just has not been “punched” yet by someone who wants something as much, if not more, than he does.

    He is just like Howard Dean in 2004, a guy who was leading in Feb. 2004 when nothing mattered. When Kerry started punching, and liberals decided they didn’t want to get blown out, Dean and his Deaniacs fell over like tomato cans.

    Not one potential nominee is going to phased by Trump leading these polls. We’ll see what happens when these nominees start digging for stuff on Trump. In addition, they are used to debating and being questioned. Trump is not. When this happens, we’ll know if Trump is serious. My guess is that Trump will go down like an opponent of Mike Tyson’s circa 1988. Until that time, it’s all bread and circuses. It doesn’t mean anything.

  • Carl Spackler

    It means we’re sick of politicians.

    • isnrblog

      Amen, Carl.