At 7:33 p.m. last Wednesday evening, the next president of the United States walked onstage at Worcester’s DCU Center, and was engulfed by the cheers of some 12,000 adoring supporters – or perhaps 11,997, since three of those inside the venue offered loud protests and had to be removed in the course of the next hour.
In truth, no one knows who our next president will be, but I was repeatedly assured at the rally that the next occupant of the White House will be none other than Donald John Trump.
For all I know, they are right. I have been misreading the American electorate for years, voting for liberals when the mood was conservative, and vice versa.
I know this much: Trump’s rise is causing apoplexy in the media and among liberals – ah, but I repeat myself.
Some have turned Trump’s rhetoric and verbal slips against him – to no avail. Rivals trying frontal assaults – Trump cited Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal – have quit the race. Pundits and humorists, including some conservatives and Republicans, have unleashed their best barbs and wickedest witticisms. Nothing has stuck.
Trump vowed once again to build a wall along portions of our southern border, deport an unspecified number of illegal aliens, and defeat ISIS militarily – that last expressed in salty language that had the crowd on its feet. To be sure, there wasn’t much to engage the intellect, but it was after all a political rally.
Happily, when verbal attacks, cleverness and protests fail, one can always fall back on an attempt at understanding.
Trump’s speech alternated between singing his own praises – he is wealthy, successful, and leading in the polls – and attacking others, including President Obama, Congress, China and Hillary Clinton.
Trump vowed once again to build a wall along portions of our southern border, deport an unspecified number of illegal aliens, and defeat ISIS militarily – that last expressed in salty language that had the crowd on its feet.
To be sure, there wasn’t much to engage the intellect, but it was after all a political rally.
The Wall Street Journal’s William A. Galston notes Trump owes his front-runner status to support among the white working class, particularly men ages 50 to 64 with no more than a high-school education.
Some people see that as a damning indictment. Those people are wrong. There is no shame in not having attended college, especially at a time when some students paying $45,000 per year for a college degree can think of nothing better to do than demand an end to free speech, imagine offenses against their minds and bodies, and demand safe spaces – as if being within the walls of Yale University were somehow more perilous than being on the streets of New Haven.
But if we believe true education extends beyond the walls of academia, we cannot excuse any voter from the duty to think. You may be an angry, blue-collar man without a college degree, but you still need to think seriously about Trump’s positions and policies.
Well, newsflash to the media and the American left: Trump’s supporters – at least those I chatted with in the course of the evening – have done a lot of thinking. They’re upset at the course of our nation, and believe their candidate can set matters right.
Nor is their candidate all show. Trump’s latest book, “Crippled America,” offers substance that no speech can contain. It’s no masterpiece, and hardly a blueprint for a Trump administration, but your time is better spent learning what the man believes than trying to tear him down with jokes or insults.
Trump’s agenda is clear: He supports immigration, but insists it must be legal. He is concerned about the 46.5 million Americans living in poverty. He would rewrite the nation’s tax code, abolish the Department of Education, strengthen the military and revise Obamacare.
Trump is no Reagan, however often he invokes that icon of American conservatism. Nonetheless, 35 years ago Reagan won the presidency thanks to charisma that drew the support of millions of angry middle-aged white men – including many Democrats.
Trump has charisma and support far beyond angry white men. I sat next to a 20-something aspiring software engineer from Rhode Island who spent a year teaching English in Vladivostok, is fluent in Russian, and spoke eloquently and insightfully about politics. He didn’t fit the Trump mold, and can’t wait to vote for the man.
I write neither to praise nor bury Trump, and offer no prediction for 2016. But if his rise causes you to question the intelligence of the American electorate, you are misjudging matters.
And if the thought of a President Trump keeps you up at night, consider the probable alternative – Hillary Rodham Clinton – of whom the best I can say is that the Lord in His infinite mercy chose to make but one.