The Trump Phenomenon – Part One – The Campaign

In late 2015, I like many other Americans learned that Donald Trump had announced that he was running for President and my first thought was…”this has to be a self promotion angle”! I had been a “closet” Trump watcher since I read his book “The Art of The Deal”  in 1987. For several years, I just followed along with the rest of the country when Mr. Trump hit the news cycle from time to time. However, Mr. Trump came back into the forefront of my interest in 2003 with the television show, “The Apprentice.”

The reality show genre was created in 2000 with the premiere of the show Survivor. The show quickly became boring and formulaic in the following year, However, in 2003, the producers of that show came up with “The Apprentice” with Mr. Trump as the host. I watched the show every week, pulling for Bill Rancic to ultimately land the coveted prize, a job as a Trump Organization project manager. During the show’s later iteration, The Celebrity Apprentice, it became even more enjoyable, with the charity donation angle involved. My wife and I watched the show religiously and tuned in every week to watch which celebrity was going to get booted off the show with that familiar phrase that Mr. Trump made famous…”you’re fired”!

However, when Trump announced he was running for President, I was skeptical that it was a genuine, in-it-to-win-it effort and not just another of his famous efforts at “self promotion”.  Then, on January 31st, 2016, I saw my first Trump campaign sign and the now famous slogan, “Make America Great Again”!

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I then followed the Trump campaign, along with the other candidates in the Republican field via the Internet and television news for a few months. However, I decided to cover a Trump Rally to investigate for myself if there was substance to the Trump campaign effort and if he was attracting supporters.

I covered the Trump For President/MAGA Rally in the Woodlands, Texas on June 17th, 2016.  I arrived in the area around 2pm, five hours before the scheduled start of the rally. I had already verified that they anticipated a capacity crowd of approximately 1000 people in the hall. I figured that with the early start I might stand a fair chance of getting in to the rally…boy, was I wrong!!!

 

By the time I had arrived in the vicinity of the Marriott Waterside, the site of the rally, there were by my estimate, somewhere between 2000-3000 people already in attendance. It was really a strange sight seeing people this fired up about a presidential candidate and willing to stand in line for hours to get a chance to see Mr. Trump. I wondered at the time, if crowds of this size were lining up to see either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders at their campaign rallies.

Since it was pretty much a lost cause to attempt to get into the venue, I started documenting the crowd, moving among them and getting a feel for WHO WERE these members of this multitude of voters here to see ‘The Donald”!

There we several reoccurring themes that were common among these people. Primarily, the most prevalent among them was their disillusionment with the ineffective action of both the Republican and Democratic parties to fulfill their legislative responsibility and their inability to put partisan politics aside to start solving the country’s problems. Furthermore, their was a general mistrust of politicians and bureaucrats in general, with many people expressing their sentiments that a good number of congressmen and senators seemed to have forgotten that they should serve the voters interest first and foremost!

As the event’s kickoff time approached, it became apparent that I stood no chance of making it into the hall, however it was clear to me, that people saw something in this Trump campaign effort, or maybe a better description was…people “sensed” something about the Trump campaign. At least, many people had a good time waiting in line and discussing their problems with the body politic of America.

One side note: There were several vendors present selling Trump merchandise and making money hand over fist. Well, at least Mr. Trump was already generating jobs and he hadn’t even been nominated yet!

 

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As the campaign progressed into the televised debates, I was still not on the Trump train. In interest of full disclosure, I am a person with libertarian political views and was backing Senator Rand Paul for the Republican nomination. His Dad, Congressman Ron Paul was my representative and was probably the most honorable and principled person to serve in the U.S. Congress since I became of voting age and his son was following his Dad’s example. As the debates progressed, I saw that Mr. Trump was not the “usual” candidate and approach the debates more with a “street brawler” attitude than the standard way a presidential candidate usually conducted themselves. During the campaign itself, I thought this was just Donald Trump making each debate an episode of “The Apprentice”, with him playing both roles as contestant and show host. His unorthodox way of engaging the debate moderators and news media covering his campaign in all out “flame wars” of rhetoric seemed to be antagonistic, unnecessary and counter productive. However in hindsight, it served to focus almost all the attention of the press on Trump during the news cycle and pretty much minimized the chance that any one of the large field of Republican challengers would get equal attention during the primary. Was this his strategy all along, or did it happen to just play out that way? Whichever, it was, it surely contributed to whittling down the members of the pack seeking Republican primary votes, and more important, raising campaign funds.

Well, Mr. Trump won the primary vote and got his chance to duke it out with Hillary Clinton in the series of Presidential debates. Watching the debates was like watching Godzilla vs. King Kong, a battle of epic proportions! Despite both candidates discussing their views on the issues, Trump kept running the narrative of “Crooked Hillary” and seek to paint her as a corrupt politico that was a Creature from “The Swamp”.  At times during the last debate, the look from Hillary Clinton seemed to say Trump was a potential candidate for the mythical(?) Clinton Death List! Even though I still had my reservations about Donald Trump, seeing him get under the skin of that vile woman was some of the best television programming I had seen in a long time…and commercial free to boot!

Then, Election Day arrived. I was considering not voting during this election. The last time I voted in a Presidential election was in 2008. I was really unable to vote for either Obama or McCain because of their position on many of the issues. There really wasn’t much of a choice between the two, so I decided to “call an audible”. Let’s just say that there was at least one write-in vote in Galveston County, Texas that year for Jimmy Buffett for President of The United States! (Author’s Note: I know that I have and will probably receive “grief” from many for this action, but I would have rather lived on the beach in Magaritaville, than in the type of America those two envisioned!)

However, I felt that I needed to make a disclosure.  I had considered voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, but the flashbacks to 1992 and my Perot vote helping unleash “The Clinton Menace” on America, prevented me from pulling the lever (or, pushing the button) for the third-party choice. So, since I was in agreement with Mr. Trump on a few of his key issues and was he able to win the Republican nomination, despite the GOP establishment fighting him the during the entire process, I was just about there, but one last fact made me…no COMPELLED ME to vote and give Mr. Trump the chance to become The President. That fact was that George W. Bush and a long list of bought and paid for RINO’s publicly endorsed the Deep State candidate , traitor Hillary Clinton! That was all the motivation I needed to vote Trump!

So that night, my wife and I watched the election returns. This election had much riding on it, both for myself and the country as a whole! As the polls started closing across the time zones of America, I watched the news media coverage on several networks. Of course, all of the network talking heads, save Fox News already were  writing the headlines and making the travel plans for anchors and crew for a Clinton Inauguration.

But then, the winds started to change and the election results started coming in for Trump in the battleground states and a few that Clinton was supposed to win! Then it happened, Trump started pulling ahead in electoral votes, as the popular vote seesawed back and forth. The look of surprise and confusion of the MSM news anchors was priceless as the election returns looked more and more like Donald John Trump might just become the 45th President! Well, at least I knew I would be staying up late for this “nail biter” of a finish, When it was all over, the world witnessed Mr. Trump emerge victorious over Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party! What made Trump’s win even more phenomenal was the tactics of utilizing social media, targeting identified groups of supporters and those willing to cross party lines…some of these tactics Barack Obama used in his election campaigns!

After watching Mr. Trump upsetting Hillary’s apple cart, I KNEW I HAD TO ATTEND the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of The United States!!!

NEXT: The Trump Phenomenon – Part Two – The Inauguration