It’s been six weeks since Donald Trump made his incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants in a speech announcing his intention to run for president. Today, a Quinnipiac poll shows Trump far ahead of the GOP field, the choice of 20 percent of those surveyed as compared to 13 percent for Scott Walker and 10 percent for Jeb Bush.
That Trump survived the negative media onslaught is remarkable, but to pull away from the GOP field at the same time signifies a mood among the GOP grassroots that requires notice.
I don’t think, however, the explanation is very complicated. Conservative talk radio has already demonstrated the deep desire among many Americans of straight talk and, especially, of defending one’s stated principles instead of back-tracking when the media spotlight gets too hot.
It’s no exaggeration to say that for Trump no spotlight is too hot, and no comment, however outrageous, requires an apology. Trump is the amalgamation of tough guy, multi-millionaire, and celebrity, possessing a broad knowledge of domestic and foreign policy, whose arrogance is saved by his brashness, good humor, and appeal to American rugged individualism.
Trump’s braggadocio appeals to people who are hungry for the heroism of a Frank Capra movie but are willing to accept Martin Scorcese’s get-it-done Gordon Gekko if that’s the only thing available.
Ask people why they continue to like Donald Trump in spite of his apparent nastiness, and they will refer to a part of the male anatomy considered lacking from his political rivals. At what point Trump’s testosterone will start wearing thin, we can only speculate. But his surging popularity, and its roots in grassroots frustration, cannot be ignored, especially by the political class who fear a Trump for President campaign.
Deal W. Hudson is publisher and editor of The Christian Review, president of the Morley Institute for Church and Culture, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.