Why is everyone so worried about Donald Trump? Does anyone really think he’s going to be president? I’m not sure he even wants to be president. He’s a buffoonish businessman who seems to have dedicated his life to collecting piles of money, escaping debt, sticking his name on buildings, putting himself on television, overinflating his importance, and making sure he always has a beautiful young woman on his arm, perhaps to counter his haircut.
Yet the national media, particularly political pundits, seem greatly concerned that he is currently leading the polls among Republican presidential candidates. Fox News recently announced that Trump is polling with 18% of Republican voters, versus 15% by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and 14% by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“No one else reaches double digits,” Fox claimed.
Relax. President Trump? Not gonna happen. Trump has no better chance of winning the White House than Mexican rapists have of being America’s biggest worry. Yet both are being bandied about right now with great volume.
Why? It’s simple.
Look at the calendar.
It’s July — of 2015! The election isn’t for another 16 months. You want to know how long 16 months is in the American attention span?
I’ll tell you.
Too early to talk president
Sixteen months ago, we had barely started worrying about an Ebola epidemic on our shores. Sixteen months ago, no one had heard of Ferguson, Mo. Sixteen months ago, a Malaysian airliner had not yet gone down, Sony had not been hacked, Cuba was still on the outs with America, and people hadn’t discovered the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
You think about how any one of those stories dominated America’s headlines and you realize whatever now fascinates people about Donald Trump will be conversational ashes before anyone pulls a lever in a voting booth.
A bigger problem than Trump is the fact that we are even dealing with presidential candidates this early. Not just one. In the case of Democrats, a couple. And in the case of Republicans, the cast of “A Chorus Line.”
Why should people get worked up over issues that political advisers think are important now, when next summer there will be a whole new set of talking points? Why pay attention to any GOP candidate when we don’t even know which ones will be allowed on a podium for a debate?
There’s an old expression. People will forgive you for anything but boredom. Is it any wonder that, with nearly 20 candidates saying the same boring rhetoric about the same boring promises that someone like Trump stands out? He’s entertaining people. From getting into shouting matches with TV hosts to insulting his fellow candidates to allegedly boosting his money numbers (Business Insider recently reported that Trump valued his character and personal brand at $3.3 billion of his self-claimed $8.7 billion net worth), Trump is like watching a bad E! channel show.
So much so that the Huffington Post recently announced it would not be covering him as a serious political candidate. “We will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section,” it posted. “Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and ‘The Bachelorette.’ ”
And this is the guy leading the polls!
Spending is out of control
Now, for those genuine fans of Trump, understand, it’s not that he doesn’t say anything with merit. It’s not that he doesn’t speak to many frustrations Americans have. But the same can be said of any bright young college student, and that doesn’t mean he or she will be our next president.
What ultimately will take down Trump will be his mouth (with foot squarely planted in it), his hidden past (which few have yet to truly explore) or his attention span, which tends to wander from one spotlight to the next.
Meanwhile, we are not addressing the bigger issue, which is a ridiculously long campaign cycle and a staggering amount of money spent in it. The 2012 presidential race cost an estimated $2.6 billion. Projections for 2016 are close to $5 billion.
Five billion? To elect a leader? Who will then tell us how he or she plans to be fiscally responsible?
This system is broken. The methodology is awful. The news cycle is endless and voraciously hungry for controversy. For now, in a sea of noise, Trump’s noise makes the most noise. So what? It’s as unimportant as taking a poll 16 months from an election. In a nation where people forgive you for anything but boredom, the fact that Donald Trump is “exciting” may be the saddest news of all. But then, it’s a circus. Small wonder that the current leader is a clown.