The American Establishment has been busy predicting Donald Trump’s demise since last June when he announced his run for the President of the United States.
Yet he has consistently led the national polls for the Republican Party nomination.
Trump was a reality TV star for 14 years and his show ‘The Apprentice’ made him an international celebrity. Now it seems he has migrated the essential ingredients of that genre into a campaign style that has delivered considerable success.
Trump is all about show. Conventional candidates present themselves as thoughtful and considered and seek to offend as few voters as possible. Trump courts controversy. Like his TV show he is opinionated and fractious. He has emerged as the love-hate candidate of the 2016 campaign. Either you cringe when he speaks or applaud him for being the straight shooter that tells America what it needs to hear.
This bold style has seen the media flock to him like moths to a flame. If nothing else he is always newsworthy and only in recent times have journalists begun to challenge his more outrageous statements like banning all Muslims from entering America.
No matter how his campaign ends – and so far pundits have mostly been wrong about his candidacy – Trump may leave a lasting legacy. He has moved the political discourse further right than it otherwise may have shifted. Often his positions are extreme – like deporting eleven million illegal immigrants from America or building a wall on the Mexican border to deter unwanted arrivals. But always they draw attention.
That has forced other Republican candidates to remain silent or denounce him outright. The later being a dangerous ploy against a man with an ability to ridicule opponents and get attention. Or they may be forced to become more extreme themselves and adopt positions they would otherwise deem unacceptable if they want to woo the same voters who find Trump so attractive.
This type of shift is known as the Overton Window and is named after US political scientist the late Joseph Overton. It states there is a range of ideas that are acceptable in politics. Enter a candidate proposing policies considered ‘beyond the fringe’ and ideas that were once seemed radical now seem palatable in comparison.
Trump is working a pretty sophisticated PR ploy with the fingerprints of reality TV all over it.