The Ripon Forum

Volume 50, No. 3

July 2016

In this edition

By on July 7, 2016

Ripon Forum Cover - July 2016“Why Trump Resonates.”

When people see this headline on the cover, they may think it is an endorsement of Donald Trump.

It’s not an endorsement.  It’s an explanation.  An explanation of how someone who displays so few of the personal qualities we look for in our leaders now finds himself the presumptive Republican nominee.

In public at least, he is not honest, is often times racist, and, in his business dealings, is reported to have taken people for a ride.  He didn’t work his way up from nothing like Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln.  He inherited a bundle and then tried to attribute his entire success to his own hard work and eye for the bottom line.

Thrift and industry are important.  But so are honesty and integrity and respecting the rights upon which this country was founded.  The fact that he defeated 16 other candidates in the Republican primary says as much about the anger and frustration of the American people as it does the power of his personality and strength of his ideas.

Almost eight years ago, millions of people descended on Washington for the inauguration of America’s first African American President.  It was a hopeful time.  It was an optimistic time.  It was a time for the country to finally turn the page — from an age of political dysfunction to an era of putting the interests of the American people first.

There are many explanations for why things didn’t pan out.  Those on the right tend to blame the President.  They say he didn’t do enough to reach across the aisle and build relationships on Capitol Hill.  And rather than governing like the centrist he portrayed himself to be during his 2008 campaign, he handed his agenda over to liberal Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and governed from the far left.

Naturally, those on the left disagree.  They say Republicans dug in their heels from the day Obama was inaugurated and opposed him at every turn.  As proof, they point to Mitch McConnell’s statement in 2010 that, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  They also say that Obama was ready to work with Republicans; the problem was that then-Speaker of the House John Boehner was never able to get his Tea Party troops in line.

The fact of the matter is both sides are right.  Republicans did dig in their heels, and Obama could have done more to cajole them.  After all, that is what Presidents are supposed to do.  Unfortunately, Washington these days is overflowing with functionaries and zealots — those who go along to get along, and those who get in the way.  What the country needs, and what the American people want, are leaders.

Over the past 12 months, Donald Trump convinced a record number of Republican voters that he was the strongest leader in the GOP field.  He did it by rewriting the rules of modern campaign warfare.  He was like the Minutemen fighting the British — agilely picking off each candidate one by one, while they stood in formation clumsily trying to take him down.

His tactics were offensive.  His behavior was objectionable.  But in the end, he won.  He is the presumptive GOP nominee.  The question now facing Republicans and all Americans is — are we so desperate for change that we want him as our President?

Lou Zickar
Editor of The Ripon Forum

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