Some musicians don’t write their own songs and some politicians don’t write their own speeches. These people rarely get the respect of their peers because insiders will always differentiate between success and earned accomplishment. Donald Trump sees this distinction and as a capitalist he only cares about the former. He applies his business methods to politics: Cut in line, then start negotiating the biggest deal possible. In essence, he wants to know if “We the People” will consider being his business partners. My answer is “of course not,” but our answer may be different.
As a state senator, the only contribution I can make to a musical conversation would be a simple reminder that a talent for songwriting takes a distant back seat to entertainment because art is still subject to capitalism. Nothing is more important than sales, right? Donald Trump believes this, and that is why he doesn’t need to be the most talented politician. In fact, someone should tell my colleagues that to challenge his political qualifications is futile. Donald Trump is to politics what Alice Cooper was to music- he is the king of “shock rock.”
You’ve heard about how national politics is like a pendulum that swings from side-to-side. I don’t agree with this. Americans are in a constant search for whatever their incumbent doesn’t offer but that answer can still be found in the current political party, hence my refutation of the pendulum theory. I call these cyclical changes “antithetical candidacies.”
Here is my logic applied: When George W. Bush was leaving office, if you asked an average person to describe him in one word, that word might have been “stupid”. The opposite sentiment would, of course, be “smart.” Now think back to 2008’s Democratic candidates: John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. What turned voters “on” was “smarts” which Barack Obama capitalized on through the perception of his sophistication. It was the perfect juxtaposition. Experience and other skills were less marketable. Supporters of the Hillary Clinton and John Edwards campaigns said that Barack Obama wasn’t ready yet, and Republicans said that Barack Obama wasn’t qualified at all, but those sentiments fell on deaf ears. The electorate overlooked a political career that was still green and focused on Obama’s dazzling oratory and his academic performance, like the Harvard Law Review. These things provided all the proof of intelligence we so badly desired.
As an outgoing president, Barack Obama has been criticized by voters in both parties as being “timid.” Democrats wish he would have been firmer with the GOP on Capitol Hill and Republicans think his foreign policy is weak. So if the current product is “timid” then the antonym must be “bold.” Donald Trump is bold. His campaign is bold and therefore his product is bold. All the discussions in the world won’t change this candidate’s stunning reflection in the 2016 presidential mirror.
The Republican field of candidates this cycle has proven exactly what voters do and don’t want; experience is not the most desirable trait this cycle and decency hasn’t been in style for a long time. Not to mention that political pedigrees are more of a liability than an asset these days. That is why Trump’s first order of business was to send Jeb Bush’s campaign into an irrecoverable tailspin. Jeb Bush’s campaign was so highly anticipated that his candidacy created panic surrounding a prospective Clinton v. Bush dynastic showdown. Alas, a bold attitude is what is in demand. So go ahead and debate the merits of a Trump campaign, but if the GOP want to replace Trump with a candidate who has qualifications, they are going to need a personality to sell it and I don’t see one.
Now that Trump won big on Super Tuesday, the only remaining variable to address is the assumption that the Trump campaign will eventually collapse, presumably from self-inflicted wounds. I’m not saying this won’t happen, I’m saying this can’t happen. It’s not possible. I’ve seen firsthand how bold personalities can extend political-life far beyond their flaws.
The best example of this lives here in Arizona. Sheriff Arpaio’s refusal to acknowledge even a single accusation on anything less than his own terms has enabled him to survive years of scandals. When handled correctly, periodic attacks can enable candidates to appear as exceptionally decent human beings. A confident response looks powerful and a heartfelt response can generate sympathy.
Subsequent attacks rarely discover the guilt that probably exists at the end of each claim. Instead, these attacks produce loyalty by providing supporters of the accused with another layer of street-cred for their beloved champion.
This next part is where the real magic takes place; the only thing better than not getting caught, is getting caught and then being found not guilty. Those criminals are truly free. And similarly, through the court of public opinion, this is the pathway for politicians to achieve invincibility.
Talented candidates can sometimes build enough momentum to rewrite the facts; meaning that if enough supporters believe a candidate’s version of the story, then society will stop arguing about the facts. That is the exact moment in time when the court of public opinion has returned another verdict of “not guilty.”
Three things are certain here in America: Businesses need profits, politicians need voters, and media needs ratings. Donald Trump has blended these three industries well enough that his bluster and his legitimate accolades have become indistinguishable, thus rendering facts and merits to be meaningless. But one thing is for sure, Donald Trump doesn’t care about being good at politics, business, or media; he just needs you to stop arguing that he is not. That is how Donald Trump just might win the White House.
Sen. Andrew Sherwood of Tempe represents District 26 in the state Legislature.