Donald Trump and the World of “Me”

By Isaac Simon

Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

When it comes to this election cycle, I’ve been wrong about almost everything. I thought the election would be controlled by money, and that Donald Trump was definitely not going to be president. For my first column of this academic year I confidently concluded that by Christmas we would have a Trump-less campaign. I was hardly correct. Trump is not an idiot; in fact he is rather smart, beating America and his fellow candidates at their own game.

Trump is not an establishment Republican. Most of his policies are rather repulsive. However, he has proven that likability and sensibility do not have to go together. Say what you want about Trump as a person but Trump as a presidential candidate is nothing shy of genius.

I cannot think of a non-incumbent presidential election where the candidate leading in every major poll from day one stayed at the top and won the nomination. Now, in fairness, Trump has not locked up the nomination. There are still more primaries to go and ballots to be tallied. However, for someone who is so infatuated with himself and his persona, he never stopped winning or stooped to number two.

It will be interesting to see how historians and scholars interpret the 2016 election cycle. Whatever is said, it will not be boring. But perhaps more shocking than a Trump presidency becoming a reality is all the people (including myself) who never thought it was going to happen. Young voters, especially college students who drank the progressive Kool-Aid and spend almost every waking hour on the internet and social media were too naive to think that Trump’s rise would turn into anything real. But it is that very medium – the internet and social media – that allowed Trump to have all of this success. His ability to be cool and connect with photos on their platforms gave him more attention than anything he ever said.

Sure, Trump is a racist, anti-immigrant and sexist individual who would only force this country to regress, but he has proven that all of that doesn’t matter. Heck, he even hypothetically discussed the ramifications of shooting somebody in Manhattan and how he would not face enough repercussions to lose support.

If this election cycle means anything it is that what you say, what you believe and how you say it, means virtually nothing. Everyone knows that Trump is not the brilliant businessman he says he is and that he had failed to offer specifics when it comes to certain policies. But no one cares. The aura of Trump, the attention grabbing solo spotlight candidate that is Donald Trump, is all that matters. For the past 30 years Americans have been fascinated with themselves. It is about “me” and becoming the greatest. For Trump, it’s about the title and the power. It’s about having more influence.

As Trump prepares to wrap up the remaining primaries in the hopes of successfully securing the nomination for president, he begins a new phase of the campaign. This phase involves discussing how candidate Hilary Clinton is old news. Trump will give speech after speech explaining how she was a terrible Secretary of State, a mediocre First Lady and a disappointing Senator. And even though none of this is really true, he will succeed because it is what people want to hear. Hillary Clinton is an establishment Democrat if there ever was one. She is business as usual, someone who has fought for herself more than for anyone else. Plus, who is excited about Hillary Clinton?

The Republican Party is perhaps more divided than it has ever been in recent memory. Given the recent popularity of the anti-Trump movement, it goes to show how key figures within the GOP are fighting to prevent an individual from becoming its very nominee. But of course the paradox continues. Most Republicans deplore Trump and his values, and yet the public support for Trump continues to persist.

It doesn’t matter that I won’t be voting for Trump. What matters is why people will be this November. Hopefully by that point people will understand that it is not just Trump but rather the people of this country that have brought this on, allowing the most self-obsessed candidate in history to play along.

Isaac Simon is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]