The Democrats and their supporters have been in denial for quite some time now. They believe that merely shining a light on Donald Trump's imperfections will cause him to diminish in the eyes of his supporters. They are clearly fooling themselves. Trump voters have for the most part already decided to vote for him no matter what comes up between now and the election. There are very few people who are still on the fence leaning toward voting for Trump. At this point, there are either ardent Trump supporters, Trump opponents, or those who will fall into line should he ultimately win the Republican nomination – something that appears more and more likely.
The race for the presidency is no longer a convincing game, but a mobilization game. And thus far Donald Trump, especially considering he lacks a robust, efficient ground campaign, is winning the mobilization game by a mile. Through the 36 Republican primaries, Republican turnout has been almost 18 percent of eligible voters, the highest Republican turnout since 1980. The recent Michigan primary was a case in point. Over 2.5 million voters turned out to vote – the most in a Michigan primary since 1972. Republican voters showed up in record numbers, driven by either strong pro or anti-Trump sentiment, and yet Trump managed to trounce his two primary rivals by double digits in the state, claiming a whopping 482,000 votes. While Clinton and Sanders each scored more votes than Trump in Michigan, they were running a two-person race while Trump was running a four person race. In the end, over a hundred thousand more Republicans turned out to vote in the Michigan primary than Democrats. Turnout in the Arizona and Utah primaries proved to reinforce the trend, leading to problems including long lines and administrative issues that seemed to blindside local election authorities who had predicted a turnout in line with 2008. Overall, Republican turnout for primaries is 50 percent greater than it was in 2012.
The mobilization game is what Trump is hoping will overcome strong establishment resistance to his candidacy coming from both the right and the left. He is making an appeal directly to the American people in a language they can all understand; whether they may agree or disagree, there is no ambiguity about where Trump stands. It should be repeated: Nuance, intellectual snobbery, equivocation and pleading to reason and decency will have absolutely no effect on the electorate this time around. This election is about winning over the hearts and souls of the American people, not their minds. At the end of the day, whoever appeals most directly to the American people's sense of dissatisfaction and unease will win the contest.
Advertisement - story continues below
The American people desperately want a win – and they are not overly concerned about how they get it. Trump has been the best so far at expressing that desire, as evidenced on his positions on everything from foreign policy, to torture, to Social Security. He does not force his voters to make a choice based on rational constraints. He promises to deliver everything – and why? Well, because he said so, that's why. And that boldness, even in the face of seemingly immutable realities such as the national debt, America's shrinking military footprint and even the laws themselves – seems to offer fresh hope for people who feel hemmed in and constrained by the status quo.
Nothing could be better exemplary of the yearning of the American people to be unyoked by what they see as the stifling effect of a government run amok than the recent standoff between ranchers and the Federal Bureau of Land Management in Oregon. The real issue at the heart of the matter is that there has been a tragedy of the commons. Once lax regulations over the use of the expansive land of the United States has been so caught up in government bureaucracy and red tape that people who settled the land generations ago can't even use it anymore. Why are those who want to burn brush on so-called federal land (doing so protects both public and abutting private land from ravaging forest fires) being subjected to fines and imprisonment for arson? Why should some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., who has never lived on the land and probably never even visited the state get to decide how the citizens of the state use the land? These are fundamental questions that have not been answered amidst the petty partisan jousting over the legality of the Bundy family's actions.
But people are slowly waking up. The yawning chasm between the government and the people it purports to serve creates an opening for a candidate like Trump. In both manner and temperament he appears to be one of the masses, and yet he is wealthy and has access to political and financial resources. He has proven time and again that he cannot be contained by the powers that be. He has defied political logic at every turn and turned the political contest into a free-for-all.
Many Americans are bemused by a candidate who seems to be able to say or do whatever he wants without penalty. They, too, yearn for that type of freedom in their own lives. They are tired of being told what to do, how to think and for whom they should vote. The time for convincing has long since passed. It is now time for a reckoning.
Advertisement - story continues below
Media wishing to interview Armstrong Williams, please contact [email protected].