Time for Trump to Hang Up his New York City Schtick
Time for Trump to hang up his New York City Schtick
During the 2016 presidential campaign season, negative, often obnoxious statements and claims have become standard fare. Now that Donald Trump is the only Republican presidential candidate still standing, that isn’t likely to change.
Certainly, the rhetoric coming from Democrats will continue to be negative, obnoxious and routinely false, and supporters of former Republican candidates will chime in and bash Trump, even though their chosen horses have dropped out of the race.
Supporters of individual candidates have always taken issue with the opposition. That’s to be expected, as Candidate A typically has a platform that differs significantly from that of Candidate B and supporters rally behind their candidate of choice.
Yet never before has campaign rhetoric been so vitriolic, negative and included so many personal attacks. Whether it’s a presidential, congressional, gubernatorial or regional election that’s looming in the near future, the noise rising from campaign organizers and supporters on both sides of the aisle is equally cacophonous.
How loud can they be?
It appears we have become a nation of intolerant people. We no longer seem to be able to engage in civil discourse and disagreements; our preferred approach is to tear down and denigrate. Moderates are viewed as being weak or as having sided with the opposition. Radicals who shout the most negative words at the highest volume are placed on pedestals, and viewed as the true believers who will help lead the charge that will save the world, or at least a small portion of it.
At this point in the race for the White House, radicals on each side are attempting to save the world from radicals on the other. And with Trump the seemingly inevitable Republican candidate for president, radicals on both sides aren’t the only ones making noise. A number of moderates have joined the fray as conventional wisdom holds that saving the world has become an impossible task; the enigma that is Donald J. Trump is simply too profound.
Conservative or Liberal?
Such thoughts are not without foundation. Trump’s leaning (some would say falling over) to the left on a number of issues has conservatives awash in remorse, even as he creates optimism for his potential to right the country’s floundering economic ship. His stance on illegal immigration is also a significant step in the direction of conservatism. Yet Trump’s failure to present a cohesive platform has alienated as many potential voters as it has attracted.
That New York schtick
Beyond individual policy stances, and the lack thereof, Trump’s biggest problem is that he appears to think his in-your-face New York City schtick plays well throughout the nation. It does not. Voters are looking for answers to serious questions; they neither care about insults based on irrelevant issues, nor do they find them amusing. Peoria ain’t New York. Neither is Atlanta, Des Moines or even Chicago.
While he’s focused on spewing insults and making statements of questionable veracity, Trump is ironically failing to play his trump card- the dissatisfaction with establishment Republicans that has enabled him to become the front-runner.
Love him or hate him, Trump has arisen not so much from what he represents, but from what his opponents did not; during the past few years, the only thing that appeared weaker than the president, was the Republican-controlled Congress that opposed him.
Although Trump has hammered his opponents in primaries and polls of Republicans, he has not fared well in polls against Clinton. Much of that is because many voters wonder about Trump’s true identity. Is he a conservative, or a liberal in conservative clothing? Can he unite the Republican party and the country? Does he even care about unity? Will he act as outlandishly as his statements are provocative?
The undecided and the apathetic will decide the election
The questions are almost endless and for the most part, Trump hasn’t supplied credible answers. Saying, “I’ve got the answers and things are going to be great” doesn’t cut it. If Trump is to defeat Clinton, or at least give her a run for her money, he has to dial down his schtick and seriously address the issues that are facing the nation.
He also must recognize that should he become the Republican candidate in November, he’ll be facing two opponents- Hillary Clinton and apathy. As with any election, Democrats will vote for Democrats, Republicans will vote for Republicans and the election will be decided by the undecided– and the apathetic.
As the odd man out of the Republican party, voter apathy in November will be particularly strong. Clinton may in fact be victorious not because of the number of people who voted for her, but because of the number of people who didn’t vote.
To entice apathetic voters to the voting booth, Trump must convert apathy into some degree of enthusiasm. He can only do that by presenting himself as a desirable candidate with serious answers to troubling questions. A New York City schtick just won’t work.