How Donald Trump Became President: My Thoughts

When Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president of the United States on June 16, 2015 like many I did not take it seriously. His speech was crass and it didn’t look like even he took his candidacy seriously, so how could anyone else?
            The Republican field grew ridiculously large and it looked like they had plenty of experienced leaders to choose from (I liked John Kasich), but Trump was leading the pack. A Fluke I said, remembering past unlikely candidates that led in poles, like the Godfather of Pizza himself, Herman Cain. I figured most of the candidates would get their moment in the sun, but that didn’t happen. The Billionaire real estate mogul and reality show host continued to poll high.

  I watched as Trump bumbled his way through debates and made the most ridiculous, offensive, ignorant, and hilarious statements. I’m not going to lie. I was enjoying the guy. He made the presidential race entertaining and I figured ‘what’s the harm in him sticking around until a real Republican candidate is chosen?’ I was now rooting for Trump, not to become president, but to stick around.
            The presidency is the highest office in the land but they can’t do much without congress on their side. Just ask Obama. For this reason, I tend not to care who wins as long as the person is level headed and seems competent, whether that person be Republican or Democrat. Trump is neither level headed nor competent enough for the job but as it looked more and more like Ted Cruz was the only alternative to Trump I became worried.

 Cruz did not come across as genuine to me. I felt he was just as poor a choice as Trump but managed to hide it well because he could hold his tongue and was a much more consistent liar (Trump’s lies were are all over the place). I did not want Cruz to be the nominee so now I wasn’t just rooting for the Donald to ‘Stick around’, but I was rooting for him to win the nomination since I felt he was certain to lose against Hilary Clinton. Hilary was the lesser of three ‘evils’ (I use that word loosely) and I thought It would have been great to follow the first black president with the first woman. 
             My hopes came true and Trump won the nomination. It became official at the Republican convention in July. Everything was going to plan. There was only one problem. It didn’t look like Hilary had an easy win. Trump supporters loved him like a savior. Hilary supporters just accepted her as the only available choice (poor Bernie). Trump spoke to a large swath of American that for a long time didn’t have a public voice, because, let’s face it, public figures usually try to avoid saying stupid shit on camera. 

Picture courtesy of Gage Skidmore
            America shocked the world and elected Donald Trump as president on November 8th, 2016. While I’m sure he won’t do anything too terrible since I believe a Trump presidency will lead to a Democratic congress in the 2018 mid-terms to balance him out, it is still a concern. His election legitimizes his ridiculous world view and paves the way for someone worse further down the line. If all a Trump presidency will cause is a reformation of the Republican party and an end to the two-party system, then that would be great. Sadly, it will most likely have a toxic effect on the US political and social landscape for a generation. 

Trump Swearing in
How did Trump pull it off? How did he become a viable presidential candidate when more obvious choices failed? Some might say Americans are just sick of politicians and their lies, but Trump lied more than anyone in the race. He made stuff up on the spot for crying out loud.
First, we have to give trump credit. He played politics like a game where he had nothing to lose, so he put all his cards on the table. This isn’t his profession, so if he lost his career wouldn’t be over. He’d still have his business empire. Most of his competitors had political careers to think about so they had to play it safe. Any businessman can tell you playing it safe seldom leads to success.
Trump realized that facts don’t matter in a political race (and, sadly, in many other aspects of life as well). All that matters is what people want to believe. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing.
Related to that this is Trump’s practice of denying saying the things he said and changing his ‘facts’ on a whim. This sowed the seeds of doubt in people’s minds. No-one could really be certain of the truth so Trump’s supporters could latch on to whatever ‘fact’ supported their views. Nobody really knew what Trump stood for so they could project their views onto him. Trump made himself the mirror of his supporters, saying anything and everything and letting whatever stuck stick.
Trump was also a master of marketing. He condensed his ideas into soundbites that his supporters could latch onto and chant at rallies (and that could fit on a T-shirt). Lock her up! Build a Wall. Crooked Hillary. Little Marco. Lyin’ Ted. Make America Great Again. Nothing was longer than four words.
The man showed how easy it was to play the system, and he gave us his blue print many years ago. Donald Trump’s business book The Art of the Deal (1987) had all of it in it. The book talks about thinking big, having fun, getting the media to write about you positively and negatively, generating interest, and more. Winning the presidency was one big deal that Trump made with the American people. He already had the art practiced, but Trump can’t take all the credit.

The democrats helped Trump win at every level. The DNC helped him by pushing for Hilary, treating the primary like a coronation. Hilary lost before. She could lose again. There was no reason why the Democrats offered only three candidates while the Republicans had 17, other than the desire to put Hilary on the ticket from the start. You can bet it was in the works since Obama won in 2008. The DNC wasn’t interested in finding a good candidate because they though they already had one in Hilary.  
Don’t get me wrong. I think Hilary would have been a good president, but she wasn’t a good candidate. Part of the blame rests on her. She knew she was going against Trump yet she ran like it was any other politician. She was boring, unengaging, and arrogant. She acted like she had the race in the bag, so much so that she ignored Wisconsin (a state Trump won) because she thought it was hers by default. A presidential candidate should not ignore any state! She failed to energize her base. Where were all her rallies? Where were the press conferences? Why was she so aloof?

Let’s not forget that Democrats completely ignored poor rural whites (who voted heavily for Trump) In favor of other demographics. This was a huge mistake. They had no problem getting their message across to minorities and city dwellers, but they seem to have forgotten that poor rural whites have problems that need addressing as well (like the loss of manufacturing jobs in many small communities). Ignore these people and they will vote for the person who doesn’t ignore them, which is exactly what happened. It was the votes of rural whites in less populous central states that gave Trump the electoral majority while Hilary won the popular vote. 

So, the DNC takes some blame. The candidate takes some blame. What about the Democratic voters? Oh yes. They take some blame. Any democrat who voted third party helped trump, especially if they lived in a swing state. Any democrat so upset that Bernie Sanders wasn’t the nominee that they didn’t vote at all, helped Trump. Any democrat that spread stories making Hilary Clinton out to be the devil helped Donald Trump.
The news Media helped Donald as well. They reported on every ridiculous thing he said, giving his claims life. They played his rallies almost in full giving him free advertising and playing right into his hand. They didn’t take him seriously early on and then treated him like a pariah feeding his claims of media bias, and making his supporters trust him more. They were either dismissive of Trump or accusatorial. Neither of which is a good way to report.
The news media should be fact based, not glorified talk shows with diametrically opposed political talking heads bickering about why their candidate is going to win. But as I mentioned earlier facts don’t matter. The news media was horrendous at fact checking the debates and basically treated them like ratings grabs. There needs to be a reassessment of news in America. It is not entertainment. It is not a forum for opinions. It is a means to disseminate information.
Conspiracy theorists and fake news creators helped trump as well. The Democrats have their own fake news stories but they didn’t have nearly as many as the Republicans this election cycle. Fake stories designed to make Trump look good and Hillary look bad were shared all over forums, Facebook and Twitter. Conspiracy theorists, who are already predisposed to believing stories with little evidence, ate them up and spread them like a virus.

To add a fuel to the flames Trump and some people tied to his campaign spread fake news and failed to denounce it. This gave legitimacy to the stories. But even if trump had denounced them all and never spread them most fake news would still survive. The internet allows for people with similar ideas and world views to find each other (a beautiful thing in most cases) and spread ‘information’ amongst themselves. The problem is when these people only listen to their own ideas and feed their confirmation bias. This can make them certain that falsehoods are actually true.
I’m sure I could find many other reasons why Trump won but I think I covered the basics here: His skill in playing the game, Hilary’s ineffectiveness as a candidate, apathy in the Democratic electorate, poor media coverage, and the spread of fake news.
Regardless of how it happened he’s our president. The important thing now is to make sure that is not the case four years from now.



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