Summary: Journalists and political gurus dismiss Sanders as a wannabe revolutionary while focusing on the minutia of the GOP presidential horse-race. That’s wrong. Trump is a revolutionary, and only seeing the big picture reveals why. Even if he fails (as he probably will), others will travel the trail he blazed.
“Although Nero’s death had at first been welcomed with outbursts of joy, it roused varying emotions, not only in the city among the senators and people and the city soldiery, but also among all the legions and generals; for the secret of empire was now revealed, that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome.”
— From The Histories by Tacitus (~56 – 117 A.D.).
Perhaps true, but not led by him
Trump has a long difficult road to climb to reach the White House, and his odds of success are small. But his unexpected success so far blazes a path others will follow. For he has shown the hollowness of the American political system. All the things so valued by our political engineers and columnists have proven ephemeral, even unnecessary. Even a Trump defeat shows the possibility of winning the Presidency by defying the authorities and mocking the conventions.
Trump is the revolutionary in the true sense — of achieving power by unorthodox methods, unauthorized by those holding the levers of power. That he does advocate revolution is commonplace, as revolutionaries often promise to purify the political region (or society) and restore old values. Since that is seldom possible, more often they lead to a new future (for good or ill).
Can Trump win?
To see the potentially revolutionary nature of Trump’s campaign see the P2016 website for Democracy in Action. They have data for the national and local campaign organizations for each major candidate. Compare the organization pages for Trump and Jeb Bush. One describes a professional-designed and lavishly funded political machine. The other is an outline or skeleton of a machine. Yet Bush has 5% in the polls vs. 34% for Trump.
Despite the hundreds of full-time professional journalists covering the Republican race, we know little about it. They file hundreds of almost identical stories, a demonstration of the gross overcapacity in the American news media (made worse by American’s disinterest in paying for news).
Perhaps the best guides to assess the grassroots action are the State polls, few though they are. The most recent scores show Trump running strong as the clock runs down to the first contests.
- Iowa caucus on Feb 1: Trump and Cruz, neck and neck.
- New Hampshire primary on Feb 9: Trump +18%.
- South Carolina primary on Feb 20: Trump +14%.
- Nevada caucus on Feb 23: Trump +13%.
- Georgia primary on March 1: Trump +10%.
- Florida primary on March 15: Trump +12%.
- North Carolina primary on March 15: Trump +4%.
- Maryland primary on April 26: Trump +17%.
- Utah primary on June 28: Cruz +1%.
- National poll as of Jan 20: average Trump at +16%.
I would not bet on the State polling data. Most of these poll only 500 – 700 people, and were done during the past month. Yet they paint a consistent picture showing that Trump has maintained his lead in States where his opponents have built powerful campaign organizations. That is one of the four keys to a possible Trump win: build a political organization that converts strength in the polls into votes.
The other keys to a Trump win on Nov 8
Second, he must make a deal with powerful elements of America’s ruling elites. Now most of them see Trump as a disruptor of a political game that they control. But Trump is both one of them (second generation wealth) and a consummate deal-maker (his book is, after all, The Art of the Deal). If he demonstrates real political power — getting votes — the necessary alliances will come easily.
Third, Trump needs a message that appeals to majority of Americans. He has the basic elements for this today, as shown by this analysis of his platform (different from the “he eats babies” propaganda from the Left and Right)
Fourth, Trump needs a lucky break. A new and ugly Clinton scandal might do it. A recession in mid-2016 would do it, and could easily happen (see the details here).
He can win. It is too late for complacency, but not too late for action. Get involved.
Other posts about Trump and the new populism
- In August I wrote The Donald Trump revolution, dismissed as all revolts are in the beginning.
- Background: Scary lessons for America from pre-revolutionary France.
- Donald Trump leads us back to the future, to the dark days of US history.
- A New America arises, perhaps with Trump as its first leader.
- Two scary graphs about the rise of Donald. Fear fascism. Act now.
- Look to the Left to see the force powering Trump and Carson.
- The numbers about immigration that fuel Trump’s campaign.
- New York shows how Democrat-run cities & states contribute to the rise of Trump.
- Good news: we begin to see that we are sliding towards fascism.
- Next phase of the Trump revolution: rise of the new populism.
- Important: Trump’s hope: a recession might put him in the White House.
- The four keys to a possible Trump victory.
- A new survey shows Trump’s support among Democrats.
For More Information
A rare mention (quickly dropped) in the major media that Trump is a populist candidate: “The Great Republican Revolt” by David Frum in The Atlantic — “The GOP planned a dynastic restoration in 2016. Instead, it triggered an internal class war. Can the party reconcile the demands of its donors with the interests of its rank and file?”
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