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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Donald Trump’s frank, brutal strategy

Donald Trump announced that he would not be running for president in 2012 with this statement: “I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election.” But thanks to an emerging brand of “tell it like it is” politics, Trump’s at the time absurd prediction is looking like a reality.

The Donald has become the frontrunner for the Republican party’s 2016 nomination, and not by a small margin either. According to recent polls, Trump’s support is at a solid 28.3%, miles ahead of Dr. Ben Carson’s 11.6% in second place and Jeb Bush’s humble 8.0% in third.

Trump owes his success to an absolutely ruthless honesty. As a multi-billionaire, he is for all intents and purposes beholden to no one. No one’s going to pull funding if he says the wrong thing or offends the wrong people. He’s got the resources to completely ignore the usual political strategy of “say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.”

It’s paying off for him in a big way. He’s captured the frustrations of a huge demographic of Republicans who are distrustful (rightfully so) of the usual safe, boilerplate rhetoric. He doesn’t care what you think, so he says exactly what he wants. For better or worse, he’s a man you can trust.
A sterling example: Donald Trump thought Megyn Kelly was asking him aggressive questions so he says “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

This created a brief media frenzy about Trump being a misogynist. The idea was that Trump disparaged Kelly on the grounds of her sex by making a reference to her time of the month.

Trump obviously came out and said that’s not what he meant, and that he actually meant her nose. Having listened to the original audio, I think that might be plausible. He trails off a bit before saying “wherever” as if the word just wasn’t coming to him so he waved the hand and moved on. But this controversy and what he meant isn’t the interesting part, it’s how he handled it.

Any other candidate would have backed down, reaffirmed their commitment to women’s issues (think Mitt Romney’s ‘binders full of women’) and apologized to Megyn Kelly. Instead, Donald Trump came back and trashed her. He called her a “lightweight” and said “I just don’t respect her as a journalist. I have no respect for her. I don’t think she’s very good. I think she’s highly overrated.”

And just like that, the “blood out of her wherever” controversy was eclipsed by the growing momentum of Trump’s campaign.
At this point, what can you say? Donald Trump doesn’t care one iota if anyone thinks he’s a misogynist. A controversy of this kind in any other campaign would be a sore spot for the candidate going forward and possible fatal stumbling block on the campaign trail. But Donald Trump is sleeping like a baby.
At this point, it seems that if Donald Trump had actually wanted to make a comment about Megyn Kelly menstruating he would have just outright done it. The man just does not care.
The sound bite moment faded away into nothing. It’s fascinating and refreshing to see politics done this way.

If this sounds like an endorsement of Donald Trump let me clarify, I don’t like the guy. In no uncertain words, I think he cannot be allowed to govern. But again, it doesn’t seem to matter what I think. He’s tapped into an uglier side of American conservatism with his unobscured straight-talk, and that just might make him president.

Indeed, the “tell it like it is” style is undeniably refreshing, but what is this “it” we’re talking about exactly? What are the issues at stake? It, in all its frank glory, is denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in the United States. It is mass deportation and building a “big beautiful wall” across the entirety of our southern border to keep illegals out.

On a more subjectively agreeable side of the political spectrum, Bernie Sanders seems to be using similar honesty to his advantage in his campaign. He uses words like “socialism” because they’re what he actually believes in even if it’s not popular, and I can respect that a great deal. But Sanders isn’t a frontrunner like Trump is yet. When the gloves come off for Bernie he doesn’t start slamming immigrants; he gets really specific about policy and the responsibilities of government and those sorts of things. Not as catchy as “build a big beautiful wall” but it gets the job done. He’s still managing to grow a sizable campaign against Hillary Clinton, who for the longest time was assumed to have the Democratic nomination in the bag.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are, in their own ways, blazing a trail in politics. Frankness and honesty are the orders of the day.

Saying exactly the right thing in exactly the right way at exactly the right time is tired. People don’t poll for that anymore. Even if it’s meant success for Donald Trump, that fact in itself is a good thing.

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Donald Trump’s frank, brutal strategy