Tonight there's a new WSJ poll splashing all over the Drudge Report talking about how Donald Trump is second only to Mitt Romney in popularity among Republican primary voters. A couple of days ago, The Donald was reported to be doing very well in New Hampshire, also.
I'm not surprised Mitt Romney is the front runner right now. I knew that he would be. Large segments of Americans don't want another George W. Bush traditional Republican. You can beat your head against a wall about that for a long time to come, but that's what my people say. And my guess is that he's going to be the Republican nominee in the end. What's more surprising, though, is that Donald Trump is gaining so much ground, so quickly.
How can this be? I myself am surprised at that, a little, so I've tried to think of an answer as to why?
While everyone's heads are also spinning trying to answer that question, I can give a few guideposts: the fact is that Donald Trump is doing a better job when he's in front of the camera articulating a message against Barack Obama's second term in office. He doesn't pull punches, and he just speaks very plainly. He's doing an especially good job telling Americans what they want to hear about China, and in terms of the economy he's pumping out red meat through a firehose. I expect that firehose to turn into a whole Company pretty soon.
But here's the big lesson, and this is why Trump is rising: In terms of our recent national politics, he's someone everyone knows but is also a completely fresh face, and when he did reveal himself as a Republican it attracted DROVES of attention. He's a chimeric figure. He is the middle ground between Barack Obama (who nobody knew) and John McCain (who everybody knew). America also doesn't want a traditional Republican Conservative and it also doesn't want another Obama. Donald Trump has gauged the national mood precisely. Obama looks more and more like a train wreck every day, he's obviously beholden and ineffective, and Americans are looking for something...comfortably radical.
Like a casino. And if anyone really examines it, what is a casino? It is the most controlled environment on Earth that human beings willingly subject themselves while thinking they are "leaving things to chance." Casinos are zoos for human beings like no other in the world. Everything is monitored. The outcome of the games in terms of odds are rigorously predetermined and regulated. Not a single person walks in or out of one without being seen by security cameras. And yet people go to them believing ... they're having FUN! Donald Trump knows the backstory of human zoos very well. He is especially well-suited to make people feel like they're taking a new chance.
I have a very strange feeling that Donald Trump is a lot closer to what a lot of Republicans want than they're willing to admit: he's a guy who runs casinos, and he's made his entire fortune off of games of chance (all of which are bound by strict mathematical rules in favor of the House). He's also not a busybody in terms of mores: nobody who rents a room at a casino hotel wants anyone to think about what they do while they're there. And he's an international businessman: just keeping that empire alive and growing ensures that he sees what the real costs are to building or doing anything in America.
Finally, he's a lot more popular, like it or not, among a large segment of the younger generation than Tim Pawlenty ever will be. The only moralism Trump has is the Bottom Line. He's not interested in what anyone really does to get there. It's a line that's very much in tune with a lot of young people you meet at casinos throughout America.
He can win, in fact he very well might win. I'm putting odds on a Donald Trump Presidency right now at 2/3rds against. He's got a very good chance to pull it off.
The only real question I have is not whether Donald Trump is doing this for reasons he thinks will be beneficial to him, because he undoubtedly is. This publicity is good for him whether he's going to go all the way through with his candidacy or not. The question is: if he did win the Presidency, why would he want it? He's going to have to completely repurpose himself for 4 years or more. He won't be the master of his own destiny: he'll be the servant of circumstance. That's the ONLY reason I don't think his candidacy is serious in the end.
My reading of the Zeitgeist right now is that the winning cohort of the American electorate wants the Librorepulitarian Demopublic. It wants us to fight back against our enemies but not if it's too costly. It dislikes big government and high taxes but it doesn't want to see its sister Susie get fired from her State job. It loves all those promised benefits and hates the big Corrupt Fed and the International Bankers, but is anguised about how to pay for them on the one hand or apply for a loan without them on the other. And right now the only thing that is cutting through the clutter is Donald Trump's bluster. It's hitting the high notes, he's crackin' skulls. The American electorate doesn't know what it wants. It's all up for grabs.