Politics has been busy since Donald Trump’s June 16, 2015 escalator ride at Trump Tower, when upon reaching the bottom, he announced his candidacy for president.
Such as presidential cycles go, Trump was considered the flash in the pan of the 2016 presidential primary season. Like Fred Thompson and Herman Cain before him, he would get his 15 minutes of fame and fizzle out.
But about a month into his campaign, polling averages showed him leap-frogging Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. His only real threat came from Ben Carson in late 2015.
Republicans wanted an outsider. They wanted to throw a wrench into the works. The system is rigged, and Donald Trump, coming out of nowhere as a guy who was never part of the system, created the perception he was that outsider.
This time, Republican primary voters were not going to buy into the same old, chamber of commerce Rockefeller Republicans who were pro-business and justified their actions by saying a rising tide lifts all boats.
They also did not think we would ever get the lovechild policy of William F. Buckley and Milton Friedman as the governing regime.
As much as conservatives and liberals want to strive for textbook ideology to be the law of the land, it will not work with just parts and pieces of it.
You either go all the way or it does not work. In America, under our system, getting the 100 percent consensus needed to implement an ideal society is unobtainable.
Recognizing that, hearing the same thing every four years, Republicans went with Trump. Populism, branding, somewhat pragmatic, somewhat aspirational — and it worked enough to get him elected.
Alabama Republicans reacted to that approach with an emotional fervor unmatched anywhere else in the country.
This is where the smart set that dominates political consulting, think tanks and right-of-center media punditry do not seem to get it.
It is way too easy to chalk up the entire Trump sensation to being a cult of personality as if he were the leader the mouth-breathers in flyover land were looking for as they cling to their odd dietary habits, guns and religion.
Rightly or wrongly, the people in this state have had a chip on their shoulder dating back to Reconstruction. The perception is the elites in more affluent parts of the United States look at Alabama as dumb and backward, which is an unfair portrayal of the people of this state.
The rise of Alabama football from the 1926 Rose Bowl to today captures some of this attitude. As it was the first significant victory against the ruling class in the post-Civil War American South, it showed that on a level playing field, we are just as good as they are, if not better.
Politicians have used that chip-on-their-shoulder mentality to their advantage. “Big” Jim Folsom, John Patterson and George Wallace all played into the populist sensibilities of the day, rightly and wrongly, and used it to their advantage.
Contrary to what some may believe, populism is not an ideology. It is something reflective of the attitudes of the era and is not set in stone. It can be conservative, liberal or a mix of the two.
Donald Trump was raw populism. It was telling people what they wanted to hear, capturing the attitudes of the moment and vowing to do something about it.
It was about building a firewall for the culture and protecting sacred institutions like the church, education, language and economics. The society planners in Washington, D.C., were threatening those institutions and remaking them to suit some false construct of fairness.
Trump is the counter to that. He tells people what they need to hear.
It was never about a role model or some cult. It is simple commercial advertising, which is to get people to buy into what you are trying to sell and your program.
He did it. Then he took it a step forward by trying to deliver on the advertising, which heightened his popularity in Alabama.
What added rocket fuel to the mix was the 2020 election and this idea the elites put an end to it by co-opting an emergency pandemic to have their way.
What is so hard about this?
Now we are in the early stages of a U.S. Senate race that, for whatever reason, Donald Trump has decided to participate in.
With Trump supporting Congressman Mo Brooks, there is an overly simplistic notion that people will gravitate to Brooks because they are following “Dear Leader” Donald Trump.
But to them, Brooks is an extension of the Trump brand, which really is as simple as understanding the consent of the governed — not big business, big tech, bureaucracy or pop culture.
But it is so much easier to assume the worst in people considered intellectually inferior, who are supposedly being guided by misguided and bigoted impulses.
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