One candidate in the race for the Republican presidential nomination is not playing by the rules. He is rude and crude and having a very good time of it. Oh, and by the way, he is leading the field by a lot. He has 29 percent of the vote among Republicans, according to an NBC online survey the other day. His next closest opponent is Dr. Ben Carson, with 14 percent, and after that Carly Fiorina, with 11 percent. Both, incidentally, are new to politics, as is the target of the conservative intellectuals' wrath, Donald Trump. Interestingly, the intellectuals are markedly out of touch with the conservative rank and file.
Trump's rambunctious presence in the race is responsible for a miracle. The conservative intellectuals have finally thrown in with the left's intellectuals. Both disrelish Trump, and if truth be known, they are not very happy with Carson or Fiorina, who with Trump account for more than 50 percent of the Republican vote. A year ago, these three would be sitting in the politicians' audience.
Meanwhile, Trump is flying around the country having a great time discomfiting the intellectuals and gathering abundant support from conservative voters, independents and even the left.
How is this happening? Well, Trump speaks boldly. He has taken the measure of the political class and finds it wanting. And he has identified issues that most of the other candidates are too timid to tackle. He is an optimist. Like Ronald Reagan, he sees America as a shining city on a hill, and it does not make him wince. My guess is that Trump likes movies starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. He is a regular American.
The think-tank eggheads bring to politics neatly tailored plans to address such problems as income distribution or the immigration conundrum. Trump clarifies issues. To income distribution, he brings plans for economic growth and jobs. To the immigration question, he identifies the problem. It is illegal immigration, and the illegals leap to supply him with evidence by murdering and raping the citizenry. Trump's solution is to build a wall and to return the illegals. As for those immigrants who arrived here legally, they can continue to prosper. There is evidence that legal immigrants approve.
Aside from identifying and clarifying issues, Trump spots as issues matters that the establishment politicians hardly notice -- for instance, political correctness. Somehow he has perceived that political correctness rankles average Americans. It angers them when political correctness intrudes into school curricula, political discourse and how government treats its citizens. When Trump speaks out against it, the ordinary American discovers that Trump is their kind of guy. He is also their kind of guy when he speaks out against tax loopholes and for fairness in the tax code.
Trump has his finger on the pulse of average Americans. His touch for markets, which has made him billions, he applies to finding constituencies, and it appears he has been brilliant at finding constituencies or, as he says, "The Silent Majority." He, and for that matter the other late arrivals to politics, Carson and Fiorina, have caused anxiety in the establishments of both parties, to say nothing of the intellectuals.
How is it that Trump anticipates the issues better than the establishment politicians? Well, despite his fortune, Trump is a regular American. I think a lot of Americans recognize this. The best of America is like Trump: optimistic, self-confident, energetic can-do people who enjoy a good laugh. Trump has made running for political office fun again, much as Reagan made running for office fun again after the lugubrious Jimmy Carter. Reagan spoke of "Morning in America." Trump has trademarked "Make America Great Again."
How is Trump going to do when the voting begins? I can see him getting at a minimum 25 percent of the vote going into the convention, maybe more. It depends on his ability to develop an organization to get out the vote, his continued anticipation of issues, and his continued ability to address them boldly. If he succeeds, as I think he will, he will have a strong hand to play in the convention.
I suspect his strongest opponent will be Jeb Bush, but Carson and Fiorina will also be candidates to reckon with. Then the players will sit down and cut a deal, but remember, they will be dealing with the billionaire who wrote "The Art of the Deal." I am looking forward to an exciting summer in 2016.