David Frum Explains The Trump Appeal
You have to admire David Frum. His bonafides as a conservative stalwart make his analysis of the dynamics of current Republican politics all the more damning. Like his friend Christopher Hitchens, he has been illustrating without abandon what is really going on in the minds of the Tea Party movement:
How can anyone support an obvious flim-flam man like Donald Trump?
Well, imagine this — or maybe you don’t have to imagine.
You are 62 years old. White. Go to church on Easter Sunday. You make a good living: $75,000 a year in a strong company. Your wife earns another $45,000. The kids have grown up and moved out. If anybody had told you when you were young that you’d be signing a $120,000 tax return on April 18, 2011, well, you would have thought you’d moved to easy street.
Only it’s not so easy.
You lost a big chunk of your retirement account in the dot-com crash a decade ago. For a while, it looked as if you had recovered your wealth, thanks to the increase in the value of your house. Back in 2006, you felt so flush that you borrowed against the equity in your home to pay off your credit cards.
Then the housing market crashed too, wiping out your equity. You now face a worrying future. You still have your job, thank God. But your boss makes it very clear that he’s expecting to replace you the instant you turn 65.
Your son has lost his job and is looking for another one. Your daughter and her kid are struggling.
You need to save every penny you can. You keep noticing those withholding lines on your paycheck. Almost a third of your salary! And for what? Those politicians in Washington are eyeing your Medicare. President Obama’s health care plan cuts $500 billion over 10 years to finance a new entitlement for the uninsured. Nothing against the uninsured — but you were counting on that Medicare. Meanwhile, the financial channels on TV keep warning of inflation that will eat away those savings you still have left.
A friend of yours, a little older, lost everything. Literally everything. He’s working as a limo driver to supplement his Social Security. That’s okay at age 67. But what happens when he turns 77?
You hate President Obama; Michelle even more. It’s not a racial thing. AT ALL. No matter what your daughter says. You’ve worked with black guys during your entire career, you have absolutely no problem with them. But this Obama, he does not come from the America you know. He just has this way of looking like he thinks he’s better than you. And the way his wife spends money! Too much flash, too much bling. All on your dime. Then she tells you not to eat at Denny’s. Hey, you’d like to eat at the fancy places she goes, but Denny’s will have to do. Every time you see her you think: ‘When these people get money for the first time….’
You are a Republican. A conservative. Always have been. You voted for Richard Nixon in 1972, your first vote. Gerald Ford. Ronald Reagan twice. George Bush once. (Ross Perot in 1992.) But during the past few years you’ve been fed up. Your pay went up under Reagan. Under Bush, it was gas prices that went up. Then they bailed out Wall Street and GM while you got screwed.
You never thought you’d hear yourself say this: but you are pissed at Wall Street. You’ve got nothing against people who get rich honestly. But the big money guys at Goldman Sachs? The guys who loooved Obama? Yeah, what would be so wrong about taxing them to clean up the mess they made? You’ve paid already, through the nose. Why should you pay again? And it’s those same Goldman Sachs guys who are pushing Washington to squeeze your Medicare to balance the budget. Forget that, buddy.
What you want is a candidate who will take the fight to Obama. Really fight him. Mitt Romney? He’s no fighter. He’s a CEO, and you’ve had it with CEOs. Mike Huckabee? Seems like a nice guy, but if you want a sermon, you’ll go to church. Now this guy Donald Trump, he’s kind of a blowhard. But he hates Obama just as much as you do. You don’t take the birth certificate thing seriously, but if it annoys the liberals, what the hell. Trump says he’s going to get tough with the Chinese, the Arab oil sheikhs, everybody who’s ripping you off. A guy can’t get that rich if he doesn’t have balls, stands to reason.
So maybe you’ll give him a try. Or somebody else. You need help. You need help from somebody who understands what it’s like to be you: Not poor, not black, not Mexican, but still hurting, still scared, still looking at a future suddenly a lot bleaker than you ever expected. Somebody. Anybody.
Meanwhile, committed conservatives like Jonah Goldberg continue to argue that Trump is media contrived and that the support isn’t there, despite Tea Party polls and repeated videos of enthusiastic supporters. Ah, the denial that you’re involved in an idiotic movement.