Was Donald Trump’s Rise a Fluke? – Descending on the golden escalator to a crowd of interested onlookers, real estate magnate-turned-reality television star, Donald J. Trump, was riding down to his destiny back in 2015. He was set to announce his candidacy for president in the most unlikely way.
Although, his announcement in which he claimed that Mexico was “not sending us their best” immigrants but instead had been flooding our country with drugs, rapists, and an assortment of other less-than-savory individuals, was the most unconventional presidential announcement speech in history. From the start, Donald Trump had militated at least as many people against him as he had attracted voters to him.
In fact, it was never clear to anyone that he was absolutely going to win (for the record: I maintained from the day he announced that he was going to win because the country wanted radical change at that time).
Donald Trump: Unexpected Victory in ‘16
Reports from around that time suggest that Donald Trump himself was skeptical he’d win; the soon-to-be forty-fifth president was instead angling for a sweetheart business deal with Roger Ailes to create an alternative Right-wing news network to rival Fox News. According to one report, on election night in 2016, as votes were being counted, Trump and his family sat in stunned silence as he was declared the winner.
He had won the election in 2016 by cracking the trumped-up “Blue Wall” and rejiggering the electoral map just enough to put him over the edge. Trump lost the popular vote. He won the electoral vote (302 to Hillary’s 227, to be precise).
Donald Trump was so unprepared to assume the presidency that he had never once taken seriously his transition team. Transition teams are vital in any new presidency because that is where you staff your presidency at least for the first couple of years a president is in office. The sooner one gets the infrastructure established for the transition team, the more likely that a president will have success early on in their tenure.
In a move that would come to mar his administration for its entire duration, Donald Trump had gutted funding for the transition team in 2016 and had placed a man in charge of it, Chris Christie, with whom he had no intention of relying upon. For Trump’s presidency, personnel would be a critical weakness that he was rarely able to overcome.
I see no indication that Trump has fully come to terms with just how weak he is in choosing personnel to serve him in government. That should concern any Republican looking to him as their nominee in 2024.
Although, if Trump himself didn’t really think he’d win in 2016, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the brash Manhattan real estate magnate was completely disinterested in the details of preparing to govern after winning.
Despite himself, though, Donald Trump did win.
And while Trump’s rise may have been a bit of fluke, the rise of the movement that catapulted him into office certainly was not. Donald Trump was a master showman. As such, he understood how to tap into popular feelings and use them propel him forward.
Which Came First, Trump or MAGA?
Trump had glammed onto the concerns and grievances of many Blue Collar and Middle-Class Americans who were becoming increasingly disenchanted with the direction of the country—and the fact that neither political party appeared to be listening to them.
Trump told this group that he was their champion. He was correct. After having been defeated for so long by forces outside of their own control, Donald Trump would become their avatar as the head of government and ensure that this group finally got what was theirs.
In that way, then, Trump’s rise was very easily anticipated. Ever since deindustrialization began in earnest in the 1970s, increasing numbers of Americans have become dissatisfied with how things in America were turning out—not just for them, but their family, their neighbors, and their communities. If not Trump, it would have been someone else.
Yet, unlike most other politicians, Donald Trump was the only person to run for high office who not only was untainted by the previous set of political dogmas and battles, but he was a celebrity independent of politics. Trump had been a fixture in most Americans’ lives since the 1980s. His divorce from his first wife, Ivanna, was bigger than most royal weddings.
People loved the Trump brand and they associated him with comfort and luxury. It was not a stretch for many people to look to Trump as a solution to their problems. His campaign’s theme of “Make America Great Again” and “America First” made it all the easier for these disaffected voters to find love for a candidate in their hearts again.
As Lenin is rumored to have said of revolutionary Russia: the power was running in the streets, waiting to be picked up. Trump intuitively sensed the group we’ve come to know as “MAGA” voters were looking for a home. If not Trump, then it would have been Bernie Sanders, who picked that power up. Sadly for poor, old, and crazy Bernie, he never stood a chance. Many have argied that the Democrats rigged their 2016 Presidential Primary against him and ensured he’d never have a shot at the presidency.
So, most populist voters stayed with Trump until the bitter end.
Trump’s Wasted Opportunity
The problem for Trump is that he had a window of opportunity to really fix the problems he had deftly identified throughout the 2016 election—and he blew it. Trump did not really repair anything. Sure, in between rage-tweets, he signed a bunch of executive orders…that his successor then totally reversed.
The legislation Donald Trump did get passed was your typical milquetoast Republican programs of tax cuts and foreign aid.
Where were the transformative programs he had promised?
By 2018, his presence in power turned off a great many voters who came out against Trump-backed, Republican candidates in droves. Once that happened, his presidency was basically over. Again, in 2020, Trump lost. This time to “Sleepy” Joe Biden (a prospect I had warned Trump’s team about in 2019, but was dutifully ignored). Just when everyone thought the GOP could make a comeback, in 2022, it lost bigly again because, in many cases, it embraced too much of the Trumpian style and rhetoric.
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Not a Fluke in ‘16, But Not Guaranteed to Win in ‘24
Trump is an enigma in American politics. He says many things that do not match either political party’s orthodoxy. Although, Trump is beloved by his base. What’s more, despite his eccentricities, he did much good as president.
Was he a fluke? Not quite.
Trump clearly tapped into a zeitgeist that had linked the minds of many Americans of a certain socioeconomic background on a subconscious level.
Can Trump capture lightning in a bottle for a second time? Even if he wins the GOP Primary, he has now thoroughly alienated many moderate voters who had voted for him (with reservations) in 2016.
Thus, in a General Election, I doubt that Donald Trump could win—for the same reasons that he is likely at this rate to win the Primary Election.
Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
March 9, 2023 at 12:42 pm
Anyone cheering for a Trump comeback is a piece of shit and a traitor.
March 9, 2023 at 1:06 pm
Trump tapped into the pulse of disenfranchised Americans. With both parties…or more like the uniparty more interested in blowing smoke up our 5 holes, Trump talked to everyday Americans, like an every day American. No more smooth talking jive turkey platitudes. No more bumbling gooberism. Just straight talk.
That’s not a fluke. Trump literally was what Americans had been calling for, For decades. Then covid came and washed our prosperity away and now we have Biden. Because we forgot it was Trump that have us the prosperity and no new wars for the first time in decades. Instead Americans allegedly elected Biden. This is the fracking moron who got us into wars and blew up our economy the last time we had a smooth talking jive turkey in office.
Do I want another Octogenarian in office? No. But if I have to choose between Trump or any Democrat…I will. If I have to choose between Trump or another GOP like Romney…I will.
March 9, 2023 at 4:52 pm
Part of the reason Trump did not get through more legislation is the democrats controlled congress for a half of his term. You also forget to mention he nominated 3 conservative supreme court justices.
March 9, 2023 at 8:04 pm
“cometh the hour, cometh the man”
The American Culture needed someone to fight for it, Trump was the fighter best suited for the task.
The reason Leftist Culture is so scared of him and campaigning against him so criminally. Is that he has the backing of American Culture, the most successful culture in history. The 1st of the 1st World cultures, the one all others had to emulate to become 1st World cultures, and enjoy 1st World affluence.
The Heavily armed American Culture, stands in the way of Leftist Culture’s goal of Authoritarian Power. And so they attack the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution, with Bigoted attacks on Men, Whites, Asians, Christians, Straights, etc., the censorship of American opinions, the disarming of Americans, the destruction of the integrity of the vote, the importing of 3rd world cultures with illegal aliens, and other numerous malignant acts. Never forget that Leftist Culture is the Worst of the Authoritarian Cultures, and destroys every people it dominates (tens of millions murdered over the last century).
March 9, 2023 at 11:21 pm
Trump issa like a fighter jet that initially roars off the runway in full power, then coasts at military power in level flight, and then…and then…alongs come a geriatric business jet which runs to outrun it.
When the fighter jet punches his throttles to outdash the business jet, the afterburners completely failed to lit and the fighter jet then crashes and burns.
Trump’s fighter jet take-off was a fluke, or a one-off stroke of genius, or jessa lucky break.
In other world terms, a fluke is or can be downright dangerous. Eating a shellfish or marine creature, especially one caught at a river mouth or river near hotels whoose sewage pipes hassa direct connection to the water can destroy yer liver or even brain due to presence of ‘flukes.’
March 10, 2023 at 2:58 am
Trump could win a 3rd term. Even the majority of democrats polled believed there was election fraud.Everything got worse under Mr. Potatoe head. DeSantis already has been corrupted by the uniparty controlled Dems, and GOP.
March 10, 2023 at 7:31 am
Wasnt a fluke when half the population voted for him and 8 years later the democratic congress, attorneys, and press keep up their attacks.
Muller was a bust, looks like capital riot was a democratic lie, and only AG’s from Demo cities try to prosecute him.
He beat himself on 2nd election.
Stress, most likely.
His ranting turned voters to biden. Coronavirus, ukraine, family business indictments, russian Hillary collusion, you would be mad too.
His “friends” sharpton turned democratic on him comfortable with getting his pay irrelevant democratic cities destroy man of his peoples lives.
Could he return.
The AA vote skews elections.
Ukraine makes people vote with sitting president.
His verbal abuse of generals, attorney generals, vp, mccain, changed the mind of americans.
Only a stock market crash or us entering troops into war will unseat Biden.
March 10, 2023 at 8:04 am
I absolutely do not care – who will be the next US President – a Democrat or a Republican. The only important thing is that Trump does not become one. The Trump presidency is a disgrace to America.
March 10, 2023 at 2:04 pm
What are these good thing trump did while in office? Ignore COVID? Give $1.8 trillion tax cut for the rich? Further polarize the country? Withhold aid to Ukraine in exchange for political gain? Putting hickeys on Putin’s butt?
John R. Shanahan
March 10, 2023 at 4:16 pm
I agree with most all of your assessment. I am a social liberal, a fiscal conservative, a federalist, and an internationalist. There really is no political party for me.
Despite not having voted for Trump I had high hopes for him to break the political deadlock and deliver things like real tax and immigration reform. Instead Trump was a populist fluke, a social conservative of convenience and a fiscal liberal. No comprehensive immigration reform was passed. Instead we got a temporary blanket ban. No real tax reform was passed. Tax reform would be broadening the base and cutting rates. Instead Trump just did the easy thing of cutting taxes and blowing a hole in the budget.
I am an internationalist and an admirer of presidents George H.W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin Roosevelt. I am a strong supporter of Ukraine. I fear the anti-Ukraine segment of the Republican Party, so I will be voting for the Democratic nominee.
I have been hoping that Trump gets the nomination, because he would most likely loose again. Second to that would be Trump dissuading, delaying, and/or weakening stronger potential Republican nominees.
US Army Vet
March 11, 2023 at 2:24 am
Donald set the country back in many ways, including by fanning the flames of racism, intolerance, and incivility. He weakened NATO, Ukraine, and our allies and strengthened the likes of Putin and Kim Jong Il. People are so enamored with him they believe the election was stolen despite all evidence to the contrary. If ultimately Fox news is destroyed by their defamation lawsuit it may be the one positive outcome attributable to him. He is a destroyer. Anyone who could want four more years of such a destructive, polarizing, bumbling idiot is at or below Neanderthal intellect, or an enemy of our country.
March 11, 2023 at 8:01 am
Trump was elected for one principle reason and that reason explains how a now proven fraudster attained the office of the Presidency…
…wait for it…
…he wasn’t Hillary Clinton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Michael Howard Habig
March 11, 2023 at 7:40 pm
Is it true that Trump did nothing in Afghanistan because he wanted to build a Trump Tower in Kabul?
March 11, 2023 at 10:08 pm
Anyone who read Asimov will understand this comment: Politically, Trump is the Mule.