Donald Trump and the American Dream - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Donald Trump and the American Dream

Donald Trump will be announcing for president today, according to a source close to the Trump camp.

Apparently, the conventional wisdom that Trump was just making presidential noises because he always does turned out to be…well….flat wrong.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Trump has released papers showing his net worth to be $9 billion. A release that is being made in anticipation of his announcement today. Apparently the conventional wisdom over the years that had people either insisting he wasn’t really a billionaire at all (as did a New York Times “business reporter” who quoted anonymous sources insisting Trump was “not remotely close to being a billionaire”) or worth a paltry $4.1 billion (as Forbes magazine does this minute) were…well…flat wrong.

And six days ago, after another story in the Washington Post from just over a month ago insisted Trump “can’t get any respect,” the news headlined at Newsmax was this:

Poll: Trump Surges Among GOP Hopefuls in NH 

There’s a lesson here. To wit: It is a fool’s errand to underestimate Donald Trump.

The other day, Trump took a stroll outside of his iconic Trump Tower with Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade. Not surprisingly there were everyday folk instantly swarming to Trump. They wanted a picture, they wanted a handshake, they wanted to have a word. At one point, standing on Fifth Avenue, Trump is flagged by the driver of a lumber truck. “I know you!” the driver says with a laugh and a grin.

Why? Why this Grand Canyon-size gap between media and political elites and average Americans when it comes to the subject of Donald Trump? Why is it that he is consistently underestimated whether the subject is his financial worth or his political viability?

The answer in this corner is that Donald Trump is seen by many Americans as the very embodiment of the American Dream. Someone with vision and drive who settles down and focuses, working hard day in and day out to make his own dreams come true. And succeeding. When millions of average Americans look at Donald Trump — they see — shocker! — themselves. And ironically, when other candidates talk about the need for executive experience — they are in their own way pointing out that the entire Trump Organization is a result of Trump’s considerable executive ability.

From New York to Istanbul, from the United States to Central America and Asia, Trump real estate, hotels, golf courses, and resorts circle the globe. They serve as a testament to Trump’s ability to get things done — to persist when dealing with the inevitable crowds of naysayers always on hand to explain why something can’t be done. They are, as it were, the American Dream in real estate form.

Trump is a literal illustration of what millions of Americans see in themselves. His life experience and business success is an anchor to his understanding of America. Well aside from Trump’s breezy easiness with voters — the kid from Queens grown up — there is something else. He — and they — believe in the American Dream. He — and they — see the ability to make their dreams come true under direct assault by an out-of-control culture of government run amuck. He and they see a government intruding into every last crack and crevice of American life at the same time it is hatching secretive and/or seriously bad deals on everything from trade to Iranian nukes. He and they think America is getting a bad deal on everything from the war with ISIS to Vladimir Putin and, yes, illegal immigration. He and they admire people who back up words with action — and know how to get things done. And pointedly, he and they hear politicians talk and feel instinctively that many of them are simply not believable — incapable if not unwilling of getting the job done when it comes to carrying out campaign promises. 

There is a reason all those upbeat Trump books are best sellers or that The Apprentice was such an incredibly popular show. In a snapshot, it is Trump’s Reaganesque optimism for his country and his all-American insistence on the need to “think big.” In a book of the same name Trump wrote:

No matter what you do, think big. Thinking big is the driving force that has forged all the great achievements in modern life, from the towering skyscrapers to the amazing discoveries in science, technology, and medicine to the great industrial and military achievements. Thinking big is behind every successful business, church, and political organization.… When faced with a big challenge, do not look at what is, instead focus on what can be.

It is this kind of wisdom — the kind of thinking that was a Reagan trademark — that millions of Americans find inspiring — while elites roll their eyes. Over at the National Review a while back, Jim Geraghty penned a very perceptive piece about the elite liberal media aptly titled:

The Skewed View of America Inside the Progressive Bubble

Geraghty writes in part (and we have cited it before here):

The cultural gap between those who vote in the Republican presidential primaries and those who cover the candidates in those primaries is now a chasm.

… A lot of members of the media who are covering the GOP presidential candidates have exceptionally little in common with the voters who will select the Republican nominee. Thus, when the Republican candidates make their pitch to grassroots conservatives, the hot-take instant analysis from the big media voices usually concludes that the pitch was a belly flop. But the GOP candidates aren’t trying to win votes in the New York and D.C. newsrooms, and in a spectacular failure of empathy and understanding, a lot of reporters simply can’t grasp the hopes, fears, and priorities of GOP-leaning voters in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina… and Tennessee. 

If you’re a particular kind of snot-nosed urban progressive, the NRA Convention — this year held in the country-music capital of the world, Nashville — is the perfect opportunity for smug eye-rolling, relished disdain, and incredulous scoffing that people actually live and think like this in the year 2015.

While Geraghty does not mention Trump, this is a fair description of the coverage that Trump has been given in liberal quarters and even in some non-liberal quarters. It is indicative of a mindset that looks at his considerable accomplishments and — sees nothing exceptional. A mindset that looks at Trump’s audiences and sees not Americans working hard at their own versions of the American Dream with their own “hopes, fears and priorities” — but sees instead a collection of rubes and racists that are almost a cartoon of snooty left-wing stereotypes. 

This is, to say the least, a mistake. And all one has to do is look at that clip of Trump strolling Fifth Avenue and getting that joyful shout out from the guy driving that lumber truck to understand the mistake. There could not be a clearer divide in American politics than that between working Americans like that truck driver — who doubtless has his own American Dream — and all those snooty elitists whose idea of reality consists of conversations with each other. 

The Republican presidential field is filling up. There are a lot of candidates — good candidates -in the race.

Down there in Florida yesterday, Jeb Bush has announced for president. It is worth noting that this Bush announcement comes following days and days of stories that the once sure-thing was experiencing trouble with everything from his campaign staff to raising money for his SuperPAC. Apparently the conventional wisdom that Jeb was a sure-thing lock for the nomination because everyone who counted said so turned out to be…well…flat wrong.

Just like all those assumptions about Donald Trump turned out to be… well… flat wrong.

There is a long way to go in this election. But it is a mistake to underestimate Donald Trump, — he with that $9 billion worth of assets, millions of cash on hand and the ability to write his own checks. It is every bit the mistake as it was for people to believe all of that silly conventional wisdom about everything from Trump’s finances to his candidacy to his poll numbers. Not to mention is it a mistake of the first order to underestimate the millions of Americans who believe in the American Dream — and are looking for someone who shares it with them. 

Someone like… Donald Trump.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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