Well, it seems that Donald Trump is a student of P.T. Barnum. He certainly understands how to draw a crowd. In fact, he’s so accomplished at drawing a crowd, it seems the student has become the master. Trump will say just about anything, and the media flocks to cover him. He has picked fight after fight or has baited others to pick fights with him. He appears to be a master of showmanship—so much so that The Economist had this to say, “Mr. Trump is to public service what professional wrestling, which he loves, is to sport.”
And the result of all of this? An unprecedented amount of free media coverage for Trump. His outlandish comments keep him front and center in the media coverage. The media continues to cover him because his politically incorrect comments get ratings. His over-the-top approach is great television. Trump knows how to draw a crowd!
It’s ironic that the billionaire candidate has become a master at garnering free press. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Trump has received three times the free coverage of his nearest rival and more free media coverage than all the rest of the Republican contenders combined. And according to disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission, Trump’s campaign spent just $12.4 million in 2015, millions less than any of the other top contenders for the Republican nomination. Compare that to former rival Jeb Bush, who started the primary season with a war chest of more than $100 million.
In the United States, we’ve grown accustomed to our politicians being experts at saying nothing at all. It’s not that they don’t talk—they’ve just mastered the skill of talking a lot without saying anything of substance. Why utter something that could come back to haunt you later? Why speak out when it might offend some segment of the voting public? Our politicians have become very good at being politically correct.
“Political correctness” is defined as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful not to use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.” Politicians are usually masterful at being politically correct, but Trump is the exact opposite of politically correct. He’s about as politically INCORRECT as they come. And yet he has mesmerized a large portion of the American people and has attracted a following that was nearly impossible to predict or explain.
Let’s explore some of the things Trump has said or tweeted during this primary season:
- About Republican rival Carly Fiorina, he said in an interview, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”
- “Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican illegals because of his wife,” Trump tweeted, referring to Bush’s Mexican-American wife.
- “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said of Senator John McCain, who spent more than 5 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
- “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?” Trump retweeted last April.
- About Muslims, he had this to say, “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president.”
- His thoughts on Mexican immigrants? “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
These are just a few of Trump’s politically incorrect statements, and I left a few of the most egregious ones out. Yet Trump is defying logic and racing to the Republican nomination for president of the United States. It seems he has offended everyone, including women, Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans—the list goes on. Even the Pope couldn’t help but comment about him. Yet “Teflon® Don” remains wildly popular with a large segment of the American people.
It seems Trump is insulting his way to the nomination. To me, this defies logic. I cannot understand why people have so embraced the controversial businessman/celebrity turned politician. I speculate that people are so tired of politics as usual and the say-nothing political correctness that goes along with it that they’re willing to overlook his consistent, controversial statements as he takes aim at just about everyone. Even Trump seemed to have the sense that no matter what he does, people will continue to support his candidacy when he said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
That statement is so over the top that it is offensive—or it should be. But, you know what? He might be right. Whether you love Trump, hate him, or couldn’t care less about him, he’s become a central figure in American politics. We have a billionaire who says consistently outrageous and even offensive things, and it looks like he’s well on his way to the Republican nomination and possibly to the White House. And that’s the state of politics in America!