Seems official if there are web links to get free tickets being posted on Facebook. The Donald is due in Lowelltown. John Cassidy of The New Yorker magazine has a cutting take on candidate Trump, one of the increasing number of media sideswipes that have not been effective in slowing down the Trump-mobile in the passing lane of the Republican Party primary race. Here’s his advantage in a nutshell: Last evening at about 7 p.m., MSNBC, supposedly the anti-Fox cable network with progressive news anchors, was showing a Trump rally in Nashua, N.H., in a live feed from the event that resembled election-night coverage while on the same news program Jeb Bush was paying for ads that mocked Trump and pushed Jeb as an ISIS-beater. Trump comes out on live TV, free TV, and starts reading from the latest polls that show him ahead everywhere and trashing Jeb for wasting $50 million on ads that have gotten him 3 percent in the polls. We have not seen stuff like this before.
If anyone thinks Trump cannot win, just consider Arnold Schwarzenegger twice winning the governorship of California (kind of a big state) and Jesse Ventura being governor of Minnesota. These guys, of course, are from the Ronald Reagan school of non-politician politicians, celebrities crossing over to political careers, products of the entertainment industry. Reagan got to the head of the class two times. My late father, a Franklin Delano Roosevelt-Democrat all his life, could not fathom how voters would cast a ballot for Reagan, whom he saw as a phony flag-waving traveling salesman without an original thought of his own. “Just look at him, look at him,” my father would say, “you can see there’s nothing there, only a script and a few tilts of his head.” My father judged the electorate wrongly. A lot of people liked what Reagan had to say and the way he said it. “I am paying for this microphone,” he once shouted at a debate moderator in New Hampshire who was trying to cut him off, demonstrating that he could play tough guys on screen. I have no doubt that Trump can win the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency. I think it would result in a disaster for the GOP on the scale of Sen. Barry Goldwater’s loss to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, but historically it could be a turning point for a new Republican Party shaped by Trump. What that would mean in four, eight, or 12 more years, who knows? Goldwater’s “extremism” led to something even more extreme in today’s Tea Party-weighted GOP.
There is talk of a counter-demonstration at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell and scheming about a “blackout” at the arena engineered by people reserving seats without intending to show up. I think political campaign managers have figured out that dirty trick from past practices, however. I assume the place will be full. Driving on Fletcher Street yesterday, I saw a Trump sign proudly displayed on a front door. I didn’t see any Hillary signs, but I did see a guy with a Bernie Sanders tee shirt in the Owl Diner last week.
Trump has done well pulling together a coalition of people who feel over-taxed, under-defended, disrespected, super-regulated, resentful of the changing face of the nation, angry about the loss of the “good old days” as they picture them, and fed up with career politicians of both parties who appear to take care of themselves and their rich patrons before the citizenry. Bernie Sanders is smart in trying to carve off some of these Trump supporters who may be disgusted by some of the intolerant and gross things that Trump says. But most reporters who have scratched below the surface of Trump voters find that they are not likely to abandon their preferred candidate. Although hardly any of them have anything in common with Trump financially or socially, they see him as a vehicle for their anger about politics and politicians in general. “He can’t be bought,” they say, unlike the other candidates up to their eyeballs in IOUs to fat-cat donors. That’s what they care about. He won’t be influenced by money, they believe. And somehow he will get money flowing their way again. He’ll “Make America Great Again,” he promises. “Americans will win again,” he says. He will get them a better deal. “Just trust me. I’m strong. Don’t worry. I’ll make it better. Put me in charge. I’m not like those other guys who are low-energy losers.” This is what he says over and over.
Thirty or 40 percent of Likely Republican Party Primary Voters is not a majority of the voting public by a long shot. Trump’s crew is a long way from winning the White House. Still, you have to wonder what’s up when a new Gallup Poll shows Trump tied with Pope Francis for the second-Most Admired Man in the World behind President Obama in first place. Hillary Clinton topped the Most Admired Woman list. Trump and the Pope? The next month will be a wild sail for political types. As Brody says in Jaws, we’re “gonna need a bigger boat” to land the Trump fish and put him beyond use.