He was easy to mock. He spoke in simple platitudes without the cadence of a trained politician. His words sounded more like a truck driver than a lawyer. He spoke of making America great again. And oh, how he was mocked.
The intelligentsia of both major parties wrote him off as a buffoon and a clown. The establishment media from the New York Times and Washington Post was merciless in its editorials and opinion pages as were more conservative outlets such as National Review and The Weekly Standard.
The scorn for the leader of the movement was only matched by contempt for his followers. Major news networks compared his large rallies to fascist gatherings. Whole cable networks spent entire newscasts belittling his supporters and the leader of the Democratic Party, his opponent Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE, branded his fans, “a basket of deplorables."
Yet, in the Republican primaries Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE dispatched over a dozen highly qualified experienced politicians. It was not just his celebrity status. It was not just the 2 billion dollars in estimated free media some have suggested Trump received. Donald Trump has a real message.
A raw American nationalism, dedicated to rebuilding not only a depleted manufacturing base but also committed to renewing American cities, improving decrepit infrastructure and looking out for American workers. Trump's message is more than the man delivering it.
Trump, much wealthier by any measure than the last Republican nominee Mitt Romney, is also much more loved by the working class than Romney. Trump resonates with welders, plumbers, construction workers and cab drivers in a way few Republicans ever have.
Trump's appeal is real and the elite opinion makers aligned against him display a hostility towards working Americans that says more about their prejudices than the supposed bigotry of Trump and his supporters.
The appealing message of economic and patriotic nationalism is matched with a new approach to American foreign policy. A skepticism of entangling wars and a businesslike approach to strategic partnerships has been met with hysteria by the establishment in both parties.
How dare Trump suggest we require the wealthy nations of Germany, Japan and South Korea to pay for their own defense. What an incredible ignoramus to opine that we should rethink NATO and have that old organization start thinking anew about terrorism.
What a Russian puppet Trump must be to entertain the notion that we could actually work with Putin. The foreign policy establishment was wrong about Iraq and the Middle East and they have been wrong about Trump.
America wants a president who doesn't start endless wars like Bush did and Americans want a president who doesn't go around the world apologizing for America like Obama did. Americans want a common sense foreign policy that yes, puts America first.
The media has focused on a vulgar tape of Trump and his personal failings. Trump is not a moral exemplar. He does have vices and sins. All men do. Trump can be petty and narcissistic. All politicians are.
Go to the office of any Democratic politician and you will be sure to find a picture, maybe more than one, of FDR, JFK or Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonVirginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins Business coalition aims to provide jobs to Afghan refugees Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader MORE. If personal sexual morality were a necessity to being an effective political leader, Democrats wouldn't have many 20th century political heroes. Jimmy Carter was a good man but most Democrats prefer a photo of Kennedy. Hopefully Trump has learned his lesson and unlike many politicians, including one rather close to Hillary, he won't make these same mistakes while in office.
Politics produces imperfect spokesmen for good causes. Trump's desire to renew the American economy and physical infrastructure of the nation resonates with many Americans who feel left behind. Trump's talk of a new approach to America's role overseas hits home with voters tired of war abroad and fears of terrorism at home.
Trump's disdain for the establishment of the two major parties and how they conspire to protect their own has great support among the millions of Americans who feel betrayed by both parties. Trump's tough talk on immigration appeals to a nation of immigrants who still believe in a nation with borders. And the continued nationalism of a Manhattan billionaire perfectly matches the mood of a hungry and restless populace ready for real change.
The pitch perfect message of Trump really is more important than the flawed man.
Pence (no known relation to Governor Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceFederal judge to hear case of Proud Boy alleged Jan. 6 rioter seeking release from jail The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Trump lawyer offered six-point plan for Pence to overturn election: book MORE) is a Minneapolis based writer. Mr. Pence is a graduate of Georgetown University and has traveled extensively throughout all 50 states. He has published numerous pieces including articles in The Washington Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Santa Fe New Mexican, The Minn Post and others. He can be reached at email@example.com.