The Cult of Personality
The tidal wave of support for outsider candidates in this upcoming Republican presidential primary has been amazing, especially for the front-runner Donald Trump. Could Mr. Trump’s cult of personality put him in the White House, mirroring the happenings of 2008?
Real estate mogul and CEO Donald Trump has lead every poll since the second week of July. Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson has been second in the polls since late August, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina saw a sharp spike in her polling numbers after performing extremely well in the August 6th Fox News debate in Cleveland. She followed up strongly as well during Wednesday’s CNN debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, and is certain to gain ground on the front runners in the coming polls.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) round out the top five candidates based on the Real Clear Politics average of the last five national polls. Ms. Fiorina is tied for 7th. The three politicians as well as Ms. Fiorina are lagging behind Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson by double digits.
The fact that Mr. Trump leads all other candidates in spite of his flaws really shouldn’t be surprising. His “stick-it-to-ya” attitude toward the media, or anyone he perceives is attacking him, serves him well. He is the one candidate who doesn’t need to worry about political correctness. His self-funded dance onto the world largest political stage allows him to stay on the offensive.
He can do this because he has no worries about scaring off potential donors to finance his campaign. He also has built a can-do-no-wrong persona with his most staunch supporters. As an example, while listening to a nationally syndicated radio program Thursday, a caller who supports Mr. Trump slammed Ms. Fiorina on a fact that pertained to both equally. When confronted with the facts, she held her ground.
None of the GOP – or Democratic candidates for that matter – have the charisma that Mr. Trump has. He is also the most divisive candidate on the Republican side. His charisma and positive outlook for America draw a loyal following – one that will be hard to dissuade. Due to lack of leadership from Pennsylvania Avenue over the past two terms, the electorate is thirsting for someone who is not afraid to say the uncomfortable about the bad things in our society but be just as quick to espouse the wonders of the United States and just how great our country can be again. I understand the appeal.
I also understand that even though a candidate may display the overall highest level of confidence, strength and optimism, he or she may not be the best suited to lead the country. There are several candidates who are better suited to the presidency than Mr. Trump. There are several candidates who are better on foreign affairs and domestic issues, but it is Mr. Trump’s personality and plain spoken approach to issues that has drawn a dedicated and loyal following.
Seven years ago, a majority of Americans voted for President Barack Obama based on the same principle. Back then Mr. Obama portrayed leadership – albeit a different kind – as well as a positive outlook of hope and change for the future of the United States. Americans ignored his obvious flaws and voted him into office because of his well-groomed persona, not his qualifications.
Mr. Trump is definitely not Barack Obama, but those who will vote for the next GOP nominee should not put all their chips on any candidate until they are fully vetted. We can’t afford to have another person become president based on personality alone.