Trump as Folk Hero
How has Trump maintained his base through all the adversity of the last three years? Surprisingly, the explanation is simple. His critics haven’t talked to the people, but instead, have talked to each other. These experts still don’t know how America got here, but the people do.
When the vast unwashed masses voted for Trump, there were several reasons, and the most important was Hillary Clinton. To defeat her would require someone who could break the logjam of Midwest industrial states. It was obvious that Clinton could not appeal to them, because she lacked sincerity. What was also obvious was that none of the usual cast of Republicans could do so, either.
After Romney’s farcical campaign, a Republican candidate needed to secure all Romney’s electoral votes and win over an additional 64 electors. To most conservatives, Cruz was acceptable philosophically, but he could not win the general election. Florida might support either Trump or Cruz, yielding 29 of those needed, but to get 35 more would require Ohio’s 18 and at least one other big state. Conservatives didn’t need to go through the actual math to know that Cruz couldn’t do it. The stark choice was between a long shot, and an almost certain loss.
Watching the field was like breathlessly waiting for an overdue redemption. Republican campaigns had been vanilla quests for power without purpose. This time, if conservatives weren’t going to win, at least they would still get a say. Trump was being scorned by every media outlet, but continued to make salient points. The MSM would pen a 700-word article belittling Trump, and he would tweet 20 words that had more wisdom, more punch, and more credibility than that article. The defiant “You and whose army!” seemed to be the response to each challenge.
The defiance was just what the besieged segment of America had been waiting for. Finally… finally, someone, who would fight. It was in this period that Trump became not just a candidate, but something very special. He became a Folk Hero. Like Robin Hood, the U.S. Ice Hockey team, or Sgt. Alvin York, Trump was struggling against overwhelming odds, and many people began identifying with him.
Americans have always had a soft spot for the underdog, perhaps because each of us has been one. Daily struggles against the odds have seemed an opportunity for growth in our lives, not failure. When successful, the achievement becomes character. Americans admire others who win in the confrontation with a superior adversary and often imagine being in their place. Academics, journalists, and bureaucrats constantly remind the lower caste “you can’t do that,” yet experience has proven that sometimes we can. It is this spirit that Trump personified, and it is the reason so many bonded so deeply with him.
The unfairness of media coverage forced a choice between Trump and the establishment alliance. Hillary was on the sidelines. She never had the capacity to engage, because Trump was such an effective communicator and she was such a terrible actress. But every element of the press, academia, the bureaucracy, the professional politicians, and the nonprofits was out in force. They presumed to be our betters and never stopped to acknowledge us; instead, they presumed to lecture us. It p***ed us off!
The commoners, 63 million strong, got revenge and vindication on election night. Then with crossed fingers, the masses prayed that Trump would take a common-sense approach, rather than betray supporters. Even if he had reneged on many things, his election was still light years better than seeing the Republic end under the stewardship of the Clintonistas. He had a window, and boy, did he use it.
Lo and behold, Trump proved to be what almost no one had dared hope for, the savior of this great nation. In two years, he has not taken on a single major step to undermine the rule of law or subvert principle for corrupt vote-buying practices. He erased the shrinking violet forfeiture of American leadership, and the antsy impulse to jump into a foreign ground wars. Each time a challenge has been presented, Trump has risen to meet it head on. What a refreshing change. Not just because our recent presidents have all tried to skirt controversy, but especially because the left has tried to prohibit debate. Trump has excited his base by his rejection of this established norm. He has reached legendary status as a champion of the individual.
It is rarely noted that Trump’s popularity hardly moves with the issues of the day. Why is that? Simply stated, there is now a personal bond. The base shared Trump’s foxhole, and he led them to victory. The gratitude that Trump has earned cannot be erased by slurs against his person. And further, the insults that he endures are seen as the same ones that have been used to control the public for decades. What the critics -– the unaccomplished, self-righteous assailants -- lack is a reason to align with the American masses. Their malignant words are a badge of honor, elevating Trump even further.
When Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, he was using a metaphor. But his enemies couldn’t grasp his point, because their rage knew no bounds. These biased and angry opinion-makers mistakenly thought he had tossed them a softball, and they ranted about what he said. It was what his base thought that mattered, though. Trump had already forged the bond with working-class Americans, and his taunts put his enemies too far forward on their skis. It revealed the character of his critics, who suddenly became self-proclaimed moral betters, and demanded acceptance of their pathetic, immoral behavioral code. They couldn’t take time off from their raging hatred to appreciate a remark issued in levity, particularly from the victor, poking fun at them and reminiscent of his remark about getting the Russians to hack Hillary. Once again, the left proved they have no sense of humor.
Now, the establishment cannot understand the comradeship that Trump has with his fellow warriors. He has a special appeal. Trump has found the sweet spot. His appeal is a mystery to his adversaries, but not to his base. The leftists face an oxymoronic situation now. Their criticism further cements the bond to Trump, and the lack of criticism gives him an unobstructed field. They cannot win.
The deplorables were here in 2016, and will be here in 2020. President Trump is not just any hero; he is a genuine folk hero.
Gordon Wysong is an Engineer and Entrepreneur, who has served as a County Commissioner in Cobb County, Ga.