It was June 16th when The Hairpiece announced in his Presidential candidacy speech that “The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, and rapists.” Not surprisingly, the reaction was one of disgust, and Trump found two of his most beloved branding opportunities, The Apprentice and the Miss USA Pageant, either cancelled or boycotted. He even had El Chapo use Twitter to threaten to “make him eat his words.” You gotta be pretty offensive to have a mass murdering, drug-dealing, convict on-the-lam actually take time to address you on Social Media.
That’ll shut him up.
Except it didn’t. The Donald continues to double-down on his rhetoric about illegal immigrants, threw in a disparaging comment about Senator John McCain, and is directly calling out President Obama as “the worst ever.” He’s like J.R. Ewing, only not as likable.
And he’s gaining momentum.
I really don’t believe that Trump is a legitimate contender to be the Republican nominee for President, but I find this situation absolutely fascinating. Trump has an audience, and they are listening. Why?:
- They believe him. I don’t know anyone in my network of professional contacts who would endorse Trump… publicly, that is. It’s not popular to admit supporting Trump, but polls show he has captured an issue people actually care about, whether they admit it or not.
- He’s honest(ish). When he’s talking about illegal Mexican immigrants, you get the feeling that he’s pulling no punches. That may make him the only political candidate in the last 20 years to tell you exactly what his belief system is. Even if it appalls you.
- We are starved for leadership. This is reminiscent of Ross Perot’s brief foray into the Presidential race. At some point, the political correctness of our elected leaders becomes intolerable. Somebody, anybody, show us a plan, give us an opinion, show some conviction, make a stand, and tell us how to make this country great again. Which brings us to…
- We love hot dogs. Yep, we just don’t want to see how they’re made. Trump promises to “make America strong again,” which implies two separate messages: 1) We’re currently weak, and 2) he’s got a plan to put ‘Merica back on top where it belongs. It could be quite ugly, cruel, and difficult to digest if we pay too much attention to how that happens, but all’s well that ends well… pass the mustard.
So why not Trump? I’m sure it terrifies Democrats (and probably some Republicans) to think of Donald Trump as POTUS. He’s brash, arrogant, bombastic, and prone to being offensive. But his gaining popularity in the current polls promises he has caught the attention of those who hope to best him.
So, as Trump stirs the controversy cocktail early in the political race, consider for a minute the message behind the madness. Trump may very well be the candidate who sets a topic ablaze (i.e., immigration), but don’t be surprised when you see a “kinder” version of his stance from one of his counterparts in the Republican primary.
He’s loud, rude, crude, and somewhat of a bully; his speeches seem designed specifically to cause angst and debate.
And it’s working. What does that say about us?
John Whitaker (“Whit”) is a SVP and Chief People Officer at Sage Dental and the founder of HRHardball.com (2008). He specializes in building and developing strong recruiting teams who are unafraid of “kicking the ant pile.” Like most Texans, he loves to tell a story (especially those that include an armadillo or a poker game) and cutting through the chaff…don’t take it personal.