How Trump Won Their Hearts



Donald J. Trump isn’t going to be the Republican nominee.

Six months ago, that was a truism. Three months ago, it was the conventional wisdom. Now it’s an assertion that inspires sympathetic glances, the kind you get when you tell friends that you think your new personal-investment strategy is sure to beat the market. I know you really want that to be true, the glances say, but you just might be kidding yourself.

While a fearful nation watched the terrorists attack again, striking the cafes of Paris, and the conference rooms of san Bernardino, Calif., Donald Trump looked out from his golden Manhattan tower, divining as he does the unseized opportunity before him. Toughness was his brand, and in a tumultuous political season, transgression his method. He had already promised once again to waterboard terrorist suspects and “more than that,” despite international treaties against torture.

He had even vowed not only to “bomb the sh-t” out of the Islamic State fighters in Syria but also to “take out their families”—another likely war crime—and steal the oil from their land and sell it through American companies.

Then in early December Trump blatantly exposed his mission to bar Moslem people of entering the United States—including tourists and business travelers, a direct challenge to the nation’s constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. He also wants to return thousands of illegal immigrants from South America which he thinks would be the best measure. He thinks that Mexican people in the USA are just criminals and he wants to wall off America’s southern border. Trump has shredded the political rule book, scattering the pieces from his private helicopter. True, Trump is a wild card, a flamethrower, a man with no known party loyalties and no coherent political principles, a thrice-married casino mogul and reality-TV star, a narcissist and even a demagogue. What Flubber was to physics, Trump is to politics: an antidote to gravity, cooked up by a quirky but prodigious amateur.

“Based on polling data,” Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium wrote previous week, “Donald Trump is in as strong position to get his party’s nomination as Hillary Clinton in 2016, George W. Bush in 2000, or Al Gore in 2000.” How come a person with such radical thoughts and behavior lead atop every pollsters’ survey, leaving other Republican Party candidates?

Everything about Trump is a challenge, a test—even for the thousands of people who attend his rallies and cheer his outrages. They certainly love something. For two hours Trump supporters have been shouting their praise over Trump, hailing his tell-it-like-it-is toughness while confessing the frustration and fears that grip them—rising health costs, flat wages, and bankrupt political leadership, threats both foreign and domestic. Most also mention Trump’s defiance, that lack of concern for what others have said is acceptable. He doesn’t care who he pisses off. He says what everyone wants to say but is afraid to say.

If the only way to alleviate national suffering is to impose it elsewhere—even if the people who must pay reside among us—then that is the price that he believes must be paid. The families will be bombed. The Muslims banned. The oil taken. The trade relationships upended. The suspects tortured. That’s the choice that Trump offers. It’s now up to the American people to decide if they want to make it. What I believe, as long as there is still a racist person with such arrogance as Trump, radicalization would be hard to be decreased.
 
Written in Palembang, South Sumatera
January 21st 2015

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