Critics of Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, and there are many, shake their heads and wonder how someone known more for his bombastic antics and outrageous statements than for his policies and positions could be doing so well in pre-primary polls.
A look beyond the political litmus tests often used to judge candidates, however, suggests Trump is connecting with a frustrated citizenry on a much more fundamental level.
First, in a system that requires spending upwards of a billion dollars to get elected, Trump is one of a very few candidates who is not beholden to his contributors. Nor is he dependent on special interest political action committees that exercise more influence – and by association, gain greater access to power – than any average citizen can ever hope to do.
He’s perceived as putting his money where his mouth is, not deciding what to say based on where that money has come from.
Second, despite the outrageousness of some of the things Trump says, there appears to be an affinity for someone who speaks plainly, not out of both sides of his or her mouth or in endless, ambiguous platitudes.
Trump is attempting to position himself as a man of action who will, even when the perfect solution does not exist, make a decision, or at least try to do something constructive. Not surprising, that presents an attractive alternative to the gridlock currently characterizing affairs in the nation’s capital.
Interestingly, some of those same independent, anti-establishment qualities have helped make Democratic candidate Bernie Saunders an increasingly popular challenger to Hillary Clinton.
In an era when countless daily surveys attempt to attract attention by advising the electorate on who is winning and losing long before the vote, it should be no surprise that those polled often take delight in providing provocative answers that confound both pollsters and pundits.
But what seems entertaining and new during the primary season seldom lasts until the general election. Most voters ultimately choose the person they feel has the experience, wisdom and temperament required to lead the country. It’s still far too early to make that call.