Feature:Opinion

Why Trump is leading and what it really means

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.