Taking ‘The Donald’ seriouslyDonald Trump is a reality. “President Donald Trump” could become real. Such a prediction is no longer considered farfetched. It is a close match between The Donald and The Hillary.
Trump destroys conventional expectations. The New York Times and Washington Post failed to accurately predict the progress of his campaign. Mainstream media have been picking on Trump, focusing on his rasher remarks, calling him a freak and arguing over his qualifications. But such reports and editorial views have had little influence as they didn’t reflect the actual sentiments of American society. A big lesson coming from the Trump phenomenon is that voters cast votes, not the media. He breaks convention and tradition and proposes a strategic model as an outsider. “He has sidestepped the traditional middlemen — party, press, pollsters and pooh-bahs — to sell his candidacy directly to voters, building on a relationship he has nurtured with the public from project to project across decades,” wrote David Von Drehle in Time magazine.
The Trump Tower boasts accomplishment. Located on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, the 58-story-building is headquarters of the Trump Organization. His election campaign headquarters is also here. Last week, I visited the Trump Café on the first floor, where Trump Wine is served. According to my server, the Trump Winery is located near Jefferson Vineyards in Monticello, home of third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, and Trump’s wine follows in the footsteps of Jefferson’s wine. A glass is priced between $11 to $18. Trump’s name is a brand of its own, projecting a pioneering spirit and the success of a businessman.
The street outside Trump Tower was closed and pedestrians on East 56th Street seemed to realize that Trump was leaving the building. Some 200 people gathered and security escorts guarded two Suburban SUVs. As Trump got into the car, he waved to the people, who cheered for him. The café staff claims that after Trump became the de facto Republican candidate earlier this month, people increasingly talk about the possibility of his presidency. Protestors opposing his candidacy have been driven away.
He attended a patriotic meeting on May 20. He was talking about the National Rifle Association meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. The NRA convention announced their endorsement for Trump. He pledged he would protect the Second Amendment. With 5 million NRA members, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is a part of America’s founding spirit. Guns are considered a means to protect democracy.
However, in 21st century America, guns are associated with terrorism and mass shooting deaths of innocents in movie theaters and classrooms. Gun control has failed in America and not just because of the lobbying efforts of the NRA. As long as the Second Amendment is held dear by Americans, the debate over guns will continue.
Trump is provocative. He exposes some inconvenient truths of American society, proposing to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and ban Muslims from entering the United States. My friend Bill Lester worked as a reporter for a local newspaper in Richmond, Virginia.
He said the Obama Administration was lenient on illegal immigrants and minority issues, and that working-class white Americans think that’s why they lost their jobs. Obama’s liberal agenda weakened traditional Protestant values, and white Americans in the South and Midwest are frustrated, he said. Washington’s political establishment maintains a vague, politically correct stance on this sensitive issue. Trump is willing to confront it head-on. Many white Americans feel relieved and think Trump is not entirely wrong, even if his words are extreme and blunt.
Trump’s language is simple. He says simplicity is the essence of wisdom and the secret to being remembered. When he was the host of the reality television show “The Apprentice,” his signature line was, “You’re fired.” Having graduated from the New York Military Academy and Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he has written best-selling books. He has authored 12 books, which are displayed on the ground floor of Trump Tower. His latest book is titled, “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again,” and the subtitle is his campaign slogan.
Trump is a seasoned man. He addresses issues directly, with deliberately blunt language. He has laid the groundwork for reversals. He frequently changes his stance. He called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un crazy, only to propose a talk with him. Lately, he is reconciling with Hispanic voters. He attacked South Korea for free-riding on the U.S. security umbrella, but recently, he said that alliance is important. He is a negotiator. He likes to make a deal, and it can be an opportunity for Korea.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are distrusted equally by voters. The presidential election is no longer a selection of the best or the next best. Voters are choosing the candidate they hate less. Trump is stirring up America. The Korea-U.S. alliance is critical to our security and economy. Korea needs to learn about Trump a lot more.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 26, Page 31
*The author is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.