Monday, July 13, 2015

Republicans Missing the Point Behind Donald Trump's Ascendancy

By Raynard Jackson
Donald Trump’s political ascendancy has less to do with him and more to do with the Republican electorate’s total disillusionment with the lack of leadership coming from our congressional leadership.

All of a sudden, along comes Donald Trump speaking a language the Republican base understands—English!

In my view, Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Chris Christie are the only Republicans that are speaking to the American people in a manner that they can understand.  The rest of the field speaks in “politicaleeze.”

The American people want someone like a Christie who will look them straight in the eye and give a direct answer to their question.
Far too many candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, spend too much time poll testing and focus grouping everything and every issue.

This brings me back to Trump.  Whatever you think about him, he spoke the truth about the state of illegal immigration; and yes his language was extremely hyperbolic and way over the top.  Yes, he could have made the same point without the incendiary language; but nonetheless, he has caused a tectonic shift in the debate over sanctuary cities.

Trump has managed to tap into voter angst and their economic insecurity.  So, Republicans should stop fretting so much about how Trump hurt the feelings of Hispanics and deal with the issue he has brought to the forefront of the political landscape.

If our congressional leaders would spend more time promoting the conservative agenda that they ran on last year versus giving Obama victories in trade and amnesty, then a person like Trump would have absolutely no political traction whatsoever.

In many ways, Donald Trump is the Frankenstein that our congressional leadership has created by their lack of any bold legislative action that they promised Republican voters during the 2014 elections.

They told the voters last year that if you give them control of the House and Senate, they would block Obama’s amnesty—they caved; they would reign in federal spending—they caved; they would pass a strong boarder enforcement bill—they got amnesia.

Republican leadership thought these issues would just magically disappear or that the Supreme Court would save them from having to do their jobs; they were very wrong on both counts.

The next U.S. president will be the candidate who can speak directly to the American people in very simplistic language about their vision for the country on issues like immigration, ISIS, the domestic and foreign economy, values, how to manage the growing diversity of our country, etc.

So, as opposed to criticizing Trump, shut him up by addressing the issues he is talking about.  Granted, his answers/solutions are extremely sophomoric; but at least he is addressing issues the American people care about in a language they understand.

The same thing can be said about Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders.  You write him off at your own peril.  He is tapping into the same frustration and disillusionment on the Democratic side that Donald Trump is tapping into on the Republican side.

It was sad watching Hillary Clinton’s interview with CNN last week.  She is quite good at talking without saying anything. 
But I am getting this same eerie feeling that I got in 2007—2008 when Hillary acted as though winning the Democratic primary was a foregone conclusion.  The amount of arrogance she and her campaign are showing is astonishing.

Sanders will continue to provide a vigorous challenge to Hillary from the left and then I expect Vice President Joe Biden to enter the race because of the disillusionment from their party’s base.

So the takeaway from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is quite simple.  People want to be talked to in a language that they can understand.  They want specific answers to the problems facing Americans, no more broad, vague, undecipherable talk.

The American electorate is afraid about their future and needs and wants a presidential candidate who is going to reassure them that their future will be alright under their leadership.

Sometimes candidates need to get rid of their pollsters and just talk to the American people from their hearts about the values and the vision they have for the country.

So, Donald Trump is not the problem with the Republican Party; it is the seeming inability of Republicans to connect with the American people about how they are going to solve the many problems facing America. 

Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC is an internationally recognized political consulting, government affairs, and PR firm based in Washington, DC.  Jackson is an internationally recognized radio talk show host and TV commentator.  He has coined the phrase “straticist.”  As a straticist, he has merged strategic planning with public relations.  Visit his website at:

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