There’s a lot to like about Mr. Trump.
As a billionaire businessman, he is financially beholden to no one, a selling point that no other presidential candidate can boast. The real beauty of this is not how his campaign is largely self funded and therefore not going to run out of money anytime soon, but rather that he is not so meticulously rehearsed as the other candidates. This past Sunday, as I watched former presidential candidate Mitt Romney be interviewed by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, I was struck at how even he, these days a civilian commentator, is so media trained. Certainly, diplomacy is a politicians’ currency, but it is often to the point of being laughable (see: Marco Rubio at the GOP debate a few weeks ago).
Trump, up until last year when he launched his presidential campaign, was a socially liberal New Yorker – in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage, to boot. He proved his liberal bent when he, at the same debate that Rubio the Robot made a fool of himself, broke party lines and defended Planned Parenthood, saying that they provide a lot of great services for women apart from abortion, which constitutes a very small percentage of their practice. Not only was hearing this from a Republican shocking for political reasons, but also because he’s proven he isn’t afraid to break party lines. (In another move crossing the partisan aisle, he even insulted former President George W. Bush, saying he wasn’t sure if Bush lied to the American people to go to war in Iraq). The Republican establishment tries to control him, and the Donald just laughs in the face of their conventionality.
Of course, this is not all to say that I would consider voting for him, because I would not. Not only are his various misogynistic/ racist statements well documented, but I also genuinely believe that his belligerent nature would undo all of the goodwill President Obama has fostered internationally the past eight years. But while I, a liberal, gay New Yorker, would not vote for him, that doesn’t mean that his supporters are necessarily racists or prejudiced against Muslims. Couldn’t it just be that they are fed up with politics as usual, and the shiny and brash reality television star with lots of money is offering something different?
The media’s obsession with Trump not only strengthens his populist message, but it is also deflecting attention away from the dark horse of the Republican field, Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz has consistently voted against social progress and is consistently (and increasingly) winning state primaries and caucuses. While it is still largely unclear how a President Trump would lead, it is not unclear at all about how a President Cruz would lead: with way too much of a foundation on his pseudo-evangelical religious beliefs and a total disregard for one of our nation’s founding principles, the separation of church and state. He would almost certainly take steps to reverse abortion rights and gay marriage under the guise of protecting “religious liberty.”
While my vote is still undecided between Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, I truly believe that Donald Trump is the lesser of two evils between he and Ted Cruz. Although our collective enjoyment in tearing down Trump can be fun, and proves how left our culture has thankfully moved, I only hope that it doesn’t distract us from fighting against our true enemy before it’s too late.