The race for the Republican presidential nomination has a long way to go, and it's still quite possible that some candidate other than Donald Trump will be nominated. But, to the shock of many, it’s also possible that Trump could move into the White House next year.
The reason why was visible in the first Republican presidential debate of the season. Trump was asked to explain past campaign contributions to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. It was probably intended as a gotcha question, but didn’t work. More precisely, Trump redirected the question into an attack on politics -- as usual.
The billionaire began by saying that he had given money to most of the Republican candidates on the stage with him. Then he connected with the audience by speaking the truth: “our system is broken.” A normal politician might then have described some kind of campaign finance reform proposal or other legislative action that had no chance of becoming law.
Trump took a different approach. He brazenly declared that he gave money to lots of politicians because he was a businessman. “I give to everybody. When they call, I give.” And why did he do so? “When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.”
For many viewers, that may have been the most honest and authentic line they’d ever heard in a political debate. Think about the contrast with Hillary Clinton, who seemed shocked that people wonder why an investment banking firm paid her $675,000 for a speech. For those who doubt that the Democratic frontrunner can be bought, Trump mentioned that Hillary Clinton had come to his wedding. Why? “She didn’t have a choice because I gave.”
The contrast was also pretty dramatic with Jeb Bush, the man the Republican establishment wanted to put in the White House. The entire premise of Bush as frontrunner was based upon the fact that he had raised so much money. In this context, Trump’s honesty about expecting something for his contribution was positively refreshing. Everybody knew that what he said was true, but nobody in the political world would say it.
Not only that; Trump had an easy way to prove that he was different. He tweeted a simple message to 6.4 million followers: “I am self funding my campaign & don’t owe anybody anything! I only owe it to the American people!”
In a time where voters believe that all of official Washington is corrupt, the notion of having a president who doesn’t owe anybody anything can seem enticing. Besides, many voters concluded long ago that it doesn’t matter whether Republicans or Democrats win. In either case, the political insiders are the real winners and the nation is the loser.
We’ve seen this storm coming. Three presidents in a row came into office with their party in control of Congress. Each time, unhappy voters expressed their disapproval in midterm elections by putting the other party in charge of congress. Never before in American history has that happened to even two consecutive presidents. This is a fundamental rejection of both political parties.
The rise of Donald Trump as the Republican frontrunner is another expression of this frustration.
To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.