Understanding ‘The Donald’

People are really struggling to understand Donald Trump.

Pundits have constantly written him off and predicted his electoral demise many times over, but he keeps on keeping on.

At a contentious press conference yesterday, Donald Trump was asked by a reporter why he felt the need to “antagonise” a federal judge who had ruled against him in a case involving Trump University.

“Why antagonise?,” Trump asked rhetorically. “Because I don’t care.”

Those six words are Trump at his most honest – and most revealing. If you needed two sentences to sum up not only Trump’s remarkably successful 2016 presidential bid but also the dominant strain of his life, those six words are about as good as you can get.

I can understand that.

For Trump, antagonism is second nature. It’s how he engages with the world. Hit them before they hit you. Set the rules of combat first – and be willing to break them if necessary.

He views life – and politics – as a constant battle for respectability, authority, power, influence. That worldview is where “Little Marco,” “low energy Jeb,” “sleaze” reporters and a slew of other “very bad” and “dishonest” people comes from. You are either for or against Trump. There is no in between.

Yep. They’re either for you, or against you. Fence sitters just get sore balls.

Trump’s life is a string of examples in which he has not only got away with this behaviour but seen it rewarded. He built his father’s real estate company into a far larger and more profitable operation. He became a national and – gulp – international celebrity. He ran for president on a whim and wound up as the Republican presidential nominee.

He says and does what he wants because he can. Because it’s always worked. And because, as he said, he just “doesn’t care”.

That sentiment is evidence of the often-overlooked aspirational quality to Trump’s appeal for many voters. Trump is selling his version of the American Dream: Vote for me, be like me. While that idea prompts lots of eye-rolls in official Washington, it occasions lots of head-nodding at Trump rallies. Why? Because Trump is wealthy, married to a former model and can/does tell everyone what’s on his mind at all times without any fear of retribution.

“He just doesn’t care!,” is something you hear often when you ask people why they like Trump. “He tells it like it is!” “He isn’t politically correct!”

Maybe Donald Trump has been chatting with Winston Peters?

The old rules in political campaigning don’t apply anymore. Certainly not to Donald Trump, which is why the Media party and the punditry are getting him so wrong.


– Washington Post via NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.