Days of Change

Nothing Left to Lose

August 23, 2015
5 Comments

There are two strongly connected questions about the Trump phenomenon. The first is why do people support Trump? The other is why is Donald Trump running for president? To some extent, it’s the same question.

On the night of the first debate, I was rambling on a podcast about Trump vs. Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. Cruz and Paul cover similar territory, aren’t afraid to buck the system and they also have some history behind them. My first stab at an answer was that Trump is defiant, much like the first leaders of the Tea Party movement. Cruz and Paul were Tea Party candidates, but they actually had to join the system once they won.

Rick Santelli kick started the idea of a Tea Party as an act of defiance, but the Republican Party was heading in that direction. Filibuster can be a political risk, but the Republicans were close to having that option taken away from them for over a year during the Obama administration. Republican leaders in Congress were emboldened because working in the system killed their party and they had nothing left to lose.

Having nothing to lose is a heady sensation for most people. Instead of all the things you usually worry about, survival mode kicks in. You become unafraid, decisive and bold. That feeling is usually short-lived. Like the Republican Party, bold action can give you back the things you lost, giving you something to lose and reasons to be afraid again.

Enter the man who can’t lose. Donald Trump is the very definition of F.U. money. He is so financially secure that bad business deals, high taxes and expensive divorces can’t destroy him. He crossed the point of having something to lose to a point of being too powerful to be taken down. I think that answers the second question. Donald Trump knows he has nothing that can be taken away by the American political system and he thinks that everyone else running does. He sees himself as the only one who can (or will) say the things that need to be said.

People are responding to that quality. Scott Walker, for example, may have the history of action, be he often has to watch his words because of politics. Voters can sense that trepidation in everyone but Trump. Trump may be the honey badger of politics, but the honey badger gets the honey.

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