From the moment he launched his presidential campaign two summers ago, Donald Trump has been a magnet for bad press. It started with those infamous lines on immigration from his announcement speech: “When Mexico sends their people, they’re not sending their best…” Those comments earned Trump a tsunami of negative media attention as well as seemingly endless criticism from political leaders, both Democrats and Republicans. It also marked the beginning of Trump’s meteoric rise in the polls, eventually culminating in victory the following year.
If Donald Trump’s unprecedented success proves one thing, it’s that the American people are growing tired of a do-nothing establishment that has controlled Washington D.C. for many years. While conventional Republicans have consistently shied away from taking a strong stand on certain issues due to the bad publicity which would result, Donald Trump has been anything but conventional. And even since taking office, the President has not backed down from taking on difficult fights.
One perfect example of this was President Trump’s recent announcement that the U.S. military would no longer be open to enlistment by transgender individuals. Immediately after posting a series of tweets stating the facts, Trump became the focus of unrelenting attacks, not only by left-wing activists and a complicit mainstream media, but also members of his own party. According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of GOP senators’ reactions to Trump’s announcement in the days following, only 2 Republicans supported the President, while 9 opposed him and another 8 avoided taking a position. This is despite polling which shows Republican voters support Trump’s stance by a whopping 46-point margin.
And this week, President Trump again displayed his boldness with the introduction of his new immigration bill, the RAISE Act, which would institute a more selective immigration policy. As with his transgender military ban, the President knew exactly what would come after the introduction of the bill. Many pundits, including even conservatives, blasted the President and his administration for introducing legislation they insist will go nowhere in Congress. To take one example, Mercedes Schlapp, a Fox News contributor, expressed her disapproval, saying, “If I were part of the White House team, I would say ‘red flag.’ We need to be talking about tax reform today and until that bill is signed.” But once again, while Trump must have expected this sort of negativity once the bill was introduced, he also likely knew voters were on his side. Recent polling from Gallup shows that nearly half of Republican voters want to see immigration levels reduced, a position which many GOP leaders, nevertheless, seem afraid to take.
Since he first began his 2016 campaign, arguably Trump’s most appealing asset has been his ability to face criticism unapologetically, unlike any other Republican politician in recent memory. He has used this ability to his advantage, and it no doubt played in big role in his winning the White House. Although members of Congress and the Washington establishment have seem baffled by President Trump’s overwhelming electoral success, they also do not seem to understand it is due to his willingness to face negative media attention while refusing to back down, especially when it involves issues of importance to his supporters. Let’s hope more Republicans will soon begin following his lead.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore