Is Donald Trump for Real?

by Burt on April 8, 2011

“Donald Trump is tied for second place in the latest Republican presidential poll,” say many reporters. Then they scoff, “That just shows what name recognition can do.”

Not so fast. Donald Trump is doing well in the polls because he is saying what many voters feel: America is losing ground in the world, and we need business sense to get us out of this economic slump. The Trump message continues–Obamacare is a mess, and we should also quit going overseas to apologize to other nations. In fact, they should pay us for all the military help we are providing.

Trump is no politician, but he is a proven businessman. True, voters will cast ballots for seasoned politicians and generals, but rarely for an entrepreneur. Yet there is precedent for Trump’s candidacy. In 1940, Wendell Willkie, the president of a large utility company, won the Republican nomination. The situation then is similar to that today. We were in an economic slump–the Great Depresssion–and after eight years of FDR giving us massive federal spending, high taxes, and a ballooning national debt we still had double-digit unemployment. Willkie responded with these words: “Let’s remove from power those who have sought to divide us into classes, who have sought to turn industry against the people and make the people fearful of industry.” To drive his point home, Willkie reminded voters, “Government has never created an invention, never founded an industry and never successfully operated a business.” Therefore, let’s cut tax rates, slash federal spending, and spark the entrepreneurial genius in America.

Throughout the primary elections, Willkie was dismissed by reporters, but he won at the Republican convention with the packed galleries shouting, “We want Willkie. We want Willkie.” Voters wanted someone who could get them jobs and restore respect for the U. S. During the election, however, foreign policy trumped the Great Depression when Hitler conquered Holland, Belguim, and France. FDR’s experience suddenly looked better to voters and he won his third term. But Willkie ran a strong campaign and led FDR in the polls until the war became the paramount issue.

If the economy is the big issue in the 2012 campaign, a candidate like Trump, without political experience but with entrepreneurial success, may appeal to voters who want someone in office who can balance a budget, create jobs, and talk effectively without a teleprompter.

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