By Steve Hansen
Former QCS Managing Editor
An 800-pound gorilla is usually a key issue that no one wants to bring up.
Then there’s Donald Trump, who has dropped into the presidential race as an 800-pound gorilla in a steroid-fueled rage — the half-ton primate Republicans can’t ignore but wish they could.
We won’t be calling The Donald Mr. President, but he could be a game-changer.
He wants us to vote for him because he’s a successful businessman. That should make him immediately suspect, because you can’t run a government office “like a business,” as many business people who enter local politics learn after entering office.
Business owners call the shots in their organizations, but in elected office, an official has to answer to voters of many stripes, balancing factional interests in key decisions while not offending those who must be turned away. That’s messy and inefficient, but that’s democracy.
Trump, a “my way or the highway” kind of guy, would quickly be shut down by both sides of the Congressional aisles.
The Donald is currently enjoying a “Bulworth” effect. In “Bulworth,” Warren Beatty plays a politician who breaks down and becomes completely candid with the public. Instead of losing appeal, however, Bulworth becomes hugely popular.
Trump is calling things as he sees them in his own brutally frank and combative way, and it’s working for him, for now. Polls show him leading in popularity. Angry, disaffected voters like his unrehearsed belligerence.
Trump doesn’t get it, however. Even the ugly “attack-ad” campaigns we have seen since 2000 are carefully stage-managed, the smears carefully market-tested, and meticulously targeted to the groups that will be the most receptive.
Trump has only picked up on the “negative campaigning works” part of it. He doesn’t have a James Carville or a Frank Luntz, both masters of campaign public relations, tempering and directing his furor. Trump will inevitably go too far.
His bluntness and honesty, however, may carry a lesson for the other 15 Republican candidates, not to mention the one real candidate carrying the Democrats’ banner.
That lesson: Try injecting a little reality based honesty into the campaign. Voters like it.
Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at: