A Donald Trump Postmortem.
My name’s Steven Westlake. I’m the current publisher of the National Police Gazette, one of the most legendary and influential magazines in history. We’re becoming, once again, the official journal of bare-knuckle boxing; I’m working closely with Bobby Gunn and his colleagues, and I’ve met your colleague Stayton Bonner. But that’s not why I’m writing.
Like you, I’ve been following the Trump campaign very closely and have enjoyed your coverage. But as we enter the endgame of this Dada spectacle, I have to say I disagree with one of your assessments in your latest article. You said that the Trump candidacy would only end up making people cling to the status quo even more than before. I think you’re half right. For example, there’s no doubt the Republicans will institute something like a super-delegate safety valve to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again in their primaries. So certainly the people you would expect to embrace the status quo will do so.
But look at who else Trump is forcing into the light of day and making publicly proclaim which side they want to come down on. Trump has—counterintuitively—upset no segment more than the right-wing media. In the same issue of Rolling Stone where your article appears, there’s one on Glenn Beck that hints at how the Trump typhoon has forced him to reevaluate his positions and approach. You can see this all through the campaign. Trump would appear on a show like Bill O’Reilly’s and make him say things like “Donald, don’t you think you’re going too far?” In my opinion, Trump’s most consistent—yet little noticed—focus has been to call the bluff of the right-wing media, expose them, and force them to publicly state where they really stand. The answer has usually been something much closer to the mainstream status quo than they’ve ever admitted before. So if some of these media personalities who played such a major part in creating the electorate that supports “Trumpism” begin to have a new-found appreciation for the status quo and say maybe Hillary isn’t so bad after all, I consider that a victory. Some will Balkanize and still pander to the most extreme portion of the audience, but what’s left might finally more accurately reflect the population in general.
I published an article in the Police Gazette that calls Trump a genius—obviously the opposite of what you call him. But even though he comes off like a buffoon, the number of sit-com style coincidences that had to line up one after the other in order for him to get this far, to me, has to indicate a method to the madness that many of us are not getting. Right down to his subdued 3rd-debate performance with its “nasty woman” parting shot, I think he’s been orchestrating a refocusing by the public on some serious issues that had become frozen and impossible to move forward in the current climate. Donald Trump is the self-appointed ex-lax of the American political process. I think, because of him, we will see progress on issues in the coming years that we have not seen progress on in decades.
One reason is Trump supporters, who will not let the issues go back into hibernation, but who are also largely misunderstood—maybe even by themselves. My sense is 20% of Trump supporters are flat-out racists who hate Mexicans, blacks, etc. But 80% of them just want problems solved. Maybe they blame Mexicans now, but if you fixed the immigration issue by doing everything the Democrats want, they would be happy. In the end, they won’t care what specific policy leads to the solution, as long as the problem is finally solved.
The politician or party that accomplishes a victory on one of these issues will have won over this segment of voters, because—and this is “huge”—Donald Trump has released them from party affiliation. These are not Republicans. Part of Trump’s genius approach, in my opinion, was to essentially say if you wanted to follow him you had to renounce your allegiance to the Republican party. There are millions of voters who are now free agents ready to support the next politician who can solve a major problem, regardless of party. The potential of this to shift political power in America cannot be overstated. Smart Democrats (and Republicans) should already be planning their futures around this fact.
As we said in our endorsement of Trump in August 2015, you don’t accomplish what he was able to in Manhattan real-estate development without having more between your ears than meets the eye. I feel he brought some of these hidden talents this year to American politics, and for that all we can say is “Thank you, Donald!”