Why Millions of Americans Love Donald Trump

Donald Trump
February 7, 2024 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: Joe BidenDonald TrumpHillary Clinton2024 ElectionU.S. Politics

Why Millions of Americans Love Donald Trump

Donald Trump had glammed onto the concerns and grievances of many Blue Collar and Middle-Class Americans who were becoming increasingly disenchanted with the direction of the country—and the fact that neither political party appeared to be listening to them. 

Was Donald Trump’s Rise a Fluke? - Descending on the golden escalator to a crowd of interested onlookers, real estate magnate-turned-reality television star, Donald J. Trump, was riding down to his destiny back in 2015. He was set to announce his candidacy for president in the most unlikely way. 

Although, his announcement in which he claimed that Mexico was “not sending us their best” immigrants but instead had been flooding our country with drugs, rapists, and an assortment of other less-than-savory individuals, was the most unconventional presidential announcement speech in history. From the start, Donald Trump had militated at least as many people against him as he had attracted voters to him. 

In fact, it was never clear to anyone that he was absolutely going to win (for the record: I maintained from the day he announced that he was going to win because the country wanted radical change at that time). 

Donald Trump: Unexpected Victory in ‘16

Reports from around that time suggest that Donald Trump himself was skeptical he’d win; the soon-to-be forty-fifth president was instead angling for a sweetheart business deal with Roger Ailes to create an alternative Right-wing news network to rival Fox News. According to one report, on election night in 2016, as votes were being counted, Trump and his family sat in stunned silence as he was declared the winner.

He had won the election in 2016 by cracking the trumped-up “Blue Wall” and rejiggering the electoral map just enough to put him over the edge. Trump lost the popular vote. He won the electoral vote (302 to Hillary’s 227, to be precise).

Donald Trump was so unprepared to assume the presidency that he had never once taken seriously his transition team. Transition teams are vital in any new presidency because that is where you staff your presidency at least for the first couple of years a president is in office. The sooner one gets the infrastructure established for the transition team, the more likely that a president will have success early on in their tenure.

In a move that would come to mar his administration for its entire duration, Donald Trump had gutted funding for the transition team in 2016 and had placed a man in charge of it, Chris Christie, with whom he had no intention of relying upon. For Trump’s presidency, personnel would be a critical weakness that he was rarely able to overcome. 

I see no indication that Trump has fully come to terms with just how weak he is in choosing personnel to serve him in government. That should concern any Republican looking to him as their nominee in 2024

Although, if Trump himself didn’t really think he’d win in 2016, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the brash Manhattan real estate magnate was completely disinterested in the details of preparing to govern after winning. 

Despite himself, though, Donald Trump did win.

And while Trump’s rise may have been a bit of fluke, the rise of the movement that catapulted him into office certainly was not. Donald Trump was a master showman. As such, he understood how to tap into popular feelings and use them propel him forward. 

Which Came First, Trump or MAGA?

Donald Trump had glammed onto the concerns and grievances of many Blue Collar and Middle-Class Americans who were becoming increasingly disenchanted with the direction of the country—and the fact that neither political party appeared to be listening to them. 

Trump told this group that he was their champion. He was correct. After having been defeated for so long by forces outside of their own control, Donald Trump would become their avatar as the head of government and ensure that this group finally got what was theirs. 

In that way, then, Trump’s rise was very easily anticipated. Ever since deindustrialization began in earnest in the 1970s, increasing numbers of Americans have become dissatisfied with how things in America were turning out—not just for them, but their family, their neighbors, and their communities. If not Trump, it would have been someone else. 

Yet, unlike most other politicians, Donald Trump was the only person to run for high office who not only was untainted by the previous set of political dogmas and battles, but he was a celebrity independent of politics. Trump had been a fixture in most Americans’ lives since the 1980s. His divorce from his first wife, Ivanna, was bigger than most royal weddings. 

People loved the Trump brand and they associated him with comfort and luxury. It was not a stretch for many people to look to Trump as a solution to their problems. His campaign’s theme of “Make America Great Again” and “America First” made it all the easier for these disaffected voters to find love for a candidate in their hearts again.

As Lenin is rumored to have said of revolutionary Russia: the power was running in the streets, waiting to be picked up. Trump intuitively sensed the group we’ve come to know as “MAGA” voters were looking for a home. If not Trump, then it would have been Bernie Sanders, who picked that power up. Sadly for poor, old, and crazy Bernie, he never stood a chance. Many have argied that the Democrats rigged their 2016 Presidential Primary against him and ensured he’d never have a shot at the presidency. 

So, most populist voters stayed with Trump until the bitter end.

Donald Trump’s Wasted Opportunity

The problem for Trump is that he had a window of opportunity to really fix the problems he had deftly identified throughout the 2016 election—and he blew it. Trump did not really repair anything. Sure, in between rage-tweets, he signed a bunch of executive orders…that his successor then totally reversed

The legislation Donald Trump did get passed was your typical milquetoast Republican programs of tax cuts and foreign aid. 

Big whoop. 

Where were the transformative programs he had promised? 

By 2018, his presence in power turned off a great many voters who came out against Trump-backed, Republican candidates in droves. Once that happened, his presidency was basically over. Again, in 2020, Trump lost. This time to “Sleepy” Joe Biden (a prospect I had warned Trump’s team about in 2019, but was dutifully ignored). Just when everyone thought the GOP could make a comeback, in 2022, it lost bigly again because, in many cases, it embraced too much of the Trumpian style and rhetoric. 

Not a Fluke in ‘16, But Not Guaranteed to Win in ‘24

Trump is an enigma in American politics. He says many things that do not match either political party’s orthodoxy. Although, Trump is beloved by his base. What’s more, despite his eccentricities, he did much good as president. 

Was he a fluke? Not quite. 

Trump clearly tapped into a zeitgeist that had linked the minds of many Americans of a certain socioeconomic background on a subconscious level. 

Can Trump capture lightning in a bottle for a second time? Even if he wins the GOP Primary, he has now thoroughly alienated many moderate voters who had voted for him (with reservations) in 2016. 

Thus, in a General Election, I doubt that Donald Trump could win—for the same reasons that he is likely at this rate to win the Primary Election. 

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy, and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

Image Credit: Creative Commons.