Political insiders here in D.C. are all but running naked in the streets and shrieking over Donald Trump. It’s not just that he is still around, nor that he’s leading the race for the Republican nomination. It is a far more worrisome matter. He is saying what he thinks.
This is revolutionary in this city where polling, focus groups, and politically correct posturing have become the catechism of how elections are won. And Trump’s heresy frankly scares the bejeebers out of the mainstream.
To be sure, the Donald’s policy ideas are so harum-scarum they sound like slam poetry for the super-rich “Stop the immigrants. Build that wall. Obama, Obama, count my money.” But he’s laying out his ideas for whatever they are worth in unambiguous terms. That is supposed to be the formula for disaster and yet he’s spinning it into electoral gold. Does he dodge sometimes? Sure.
But ask almost any other candidate for a direct answer any time and you’ll get a Rubik’s cube of hedging and “Let me get back to you”‘s. Hillary Clinton was asked about the Keystone XL pipeline, and she started tap dancing like Peg Leg Bates. The big campaigners in both parties, by and large, want to check everything with their teams to avoid specifics, ease past strong statements, and make sure voters can’t really say what the candidate stands for beyond America, mother, and apple pie. And the apple part is negotiable.
If you think this sounds like calculated deception on a grand scale, it is. And the reason Trump is doing well is because some voters are so sick of it, they’d vote for a goat if they thought it was shooting straight with them.
And there’s the solution for all those whining candidates who feel Trump is just an entertainer. Steal his act. Throw out your notes, trash the teleprompters, and speak candidly about your beliefs. If enough of us agree, we’ll make you President. And if we don’t, you should not be elected anyway. Want to trump Trump? Do the hardest thing in Washington – tell the truth.
Tom Foreman is a political correspondent for CNN and author of the upcoming book “My Year of Running Dangerously: A dad, a daughter, and a ridiculous plan.”