For all of Donald Trump’s bluster about the Clintons, there’s one presidential candidate that Trump is truly scared of, and his last name isn’t Clinton:
Bernie (Sanders) has consistently maintained that Trump supporters are working class people who are taking out their grievances on minorities and others, rather than addressing the rigged political and socio-economic system that has let them down. Bernie has for some time been saying that Trump is a demagogue who does “what demagogues do … scapegoating others.” And Bernie has asserted that his message of economic justice would resonate with those voters, and he could peel away many Trump supporters.
But on CBS Face the Nation last week he seems to have struck bone.
“This is a guy who does not want to raise minimum wage,” he said of Trump. “In fact, he has said that wages in America are too high.”
Trump responded to Bernie exposing Trump’s big weakness with the white, working-class voters he’d need to win a general election for president by…you guessed it…flip-flopping on raising wages:
Make no mistake about it, white, working-class voters are going to decide the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton has virtually zero appeal to white, working-class voters, so she’d lose badly to Trump. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is an ardent economic progressive who can appeal to white, working-class voters left behind by both a Democratic establishment that openly attacks them and a Republican Party that is hell bent on destroying their livelihoods.
Donald Trump is not your typical Republican presidential candidate. He has a very unorthodox appeal to Republican primary and caucus voters, an unorthodox appeal that has helped him take the lead in race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to recent national, Iowa, and New Hampshire opinion polls of Republican voters.
Here’s some of my thoughts (these are entirely my thoughts, because, unlike Jeb Bush, I actually am my own man) on Trump’s unorthodox appeal to Republican voters:
- Trump says what he thinks – Not too many politicians in this country speak their mind, but Trump does. Trump has made a habit of speaking his mind, both before his presidential run and as a presidential candidate, and the right-wing corporate media in this country gives him a ton of attention. The fact that he is wealthy enough to, if he had to, self-fund an entire presidential campaign (his net worth is probably somewhere in the low-to-mid ten figures, although Trump himself publicly inflates his net worth for his own ends) gives him even more of an incentive to speak his mind.
- Trump has a giant ego – While someone with as huge of an ego as Trump wouldn’t stand much of a chance of winning a Democratic primary or caucus, being overly egotistical, which Trump is, does play well with the Republican caucus/primary electorate. To put that another way, Republicans admire jerks like Trump.
- Trump’s overt racism and sexism plays well with Republicans – Racism and sexism is not a negative with the Republican crowd…in fact, they admire bigots like Trump. Trump’s racist remarks, such as his anti-immigration tirades, as well as his sexist remarks, such as claiming that Megyn Kelly of FOX News questioned him at a Republican debate because she was on her period, play well with Republicans.
- Trump has an unusual appeal to working-class voters – For someone who is extremely wealthy and a real estate magnate, Trump actually has an ability to appeal to working-class voters who are open to the idea of voting for a Republican presidential candidate. The kind of working-class voters who are open to supporting someone like Trump are mostly white racists who view foreigners and ethnic minorities as taking their jobs away and have not just resentment, but racist resentment, towards foreigners and ethnic minorities. Trump’s tirades against Mexico, China, lenient U.S. trade policies, and immigration play very well with this crowd of voters.
While I do agree with Trump on a few issues, such as his opposition to Common Core State Standards and criticism of U.S. trade policies that are far too lenient towards our largest trading partners and have cost America thousands of jobs, I’d never consider voting for Trump. While, admittedly, I’d be seen by many as a poor, left-wing version of Trump if I ever for public office, Trump is way too much of a blowhard, egomaniac, bully, and bigot for me to consider voting for him. Also, if Trump were to self-fund most or all of his presidential campaign, that’s just as much of an undue influence on the political system as politicians being bought off by wealthy campaign donors.
Regarding whether or not I think Trump can win a general election for president, I think that he’d defeat Hillary Clinton, but lose to Bernie Sanders. Although Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney are not one and the same by any stretch of the imagination, Clinton can be compared to Romney in a way: She’s perceived as out of touch with ordinary people and part of the political elite, which is what cost Romney the 2012 presidential election. On the other hand, Sanders can appeal to the kind of persuadable working-class voters that Trump would need to win, in that Sanders is a stronger opponent of free-trade policies than Trump is and comes across as more presidential than Trump does.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) announced yet another bid for the Republican presidential nomination earlier today. This time, he’s trying to appeal to working-class voters, saying that “working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money”.
However, Rick Santorum is not a real champion of the working class.
For starters, Santorum has a long history of taking far-right positions and making offensive remarks on various issues, especially on social issues like abortion and marriage equality. For example, Santorum has staunchly opposed marriage equality, going as far as to claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to people marrying dogs, which is absolutely false and absurd. On LGBT rights in general, Santorum has claimed that the Boy Scouts allowing openly gay people to join the Scouts would “murder” the organization, another absolutely false and absurd claim. On abortion and reproductive rights, Santorum has staunchly opposed the idea that women should be able to make their own decisions about their reproductive health, going as far as to say that survivors of rape who get pregnant via rape should “accept what God has given”, effectively saying that he thinks that women should be forced to carry an unwanted fetus to term.
When it comes to economic issues, Santorum’s “appeal” to working-class Americans is phonier than a $3 bill. For starters, Santorum supports eliminating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and instituting a flat federal income tax rate. I have two things to say about this ridiculous idea. First, a flat income tax would make income inequality, already a serious problem in this country, even worse, because the wealthiest Americans would receive most, if not all, of the tax cuts from a flat income tax. Second, who the hell would be responsible for collecting taxes if the IRS were eliminated?
Rick Santorum is a phony and a far-right crackpot who would make an absolutely horrible president.