What is Trump a symptom of?

The starting premise is that this is not rational - to have effectively a joke candidate be taken seriously by the electorate at all, never mind for this long. If you think it is rational then maybe start another thread.

In a conventional, mature democracy the rise of people like Trump does not happen. So what has happened in the USA?

Initially I was inclined to think Trump represented a form of protest vote - despite having policies the electorate was attracted on that single protesting issue, but it seems to be more than that.

Does the cause goes beyond dissatisfaction and into the realm of dysfunction, social, politics or both?

On my superficial grasp of US politics it’s almost as if all those recent years of GOP/Fox buffoonery over Obama - from Kenya to the new Supreme - have come back to haunt the national party. Is being infantile now normal in US politics?

I also have a sense, based on little other than the European experience, that there has to be consequences if media is allowed to persist without boundaries; if left to the free market it must inevitably become right wing, and if is allowed to operate without regulation t will become radically right wing.

IN US terms, the obligation (certainly in the UK) to balanced reporting is, I believe, against free speech provisions in the constitution.

Or maybe the dysfunction lays in the need for so much money to even think of becoming a politician in the US.

I don’t know, but this situation is very wrong. I’m curious as to how it came to be?

This is pretty simple. The two party system has led us to ruin with a chain of establishment politicians. The country is under the control of the ultra-rich and who control the election process through money. The mainstream political conversation is crafted by this group that includes the media and year after year we get promises to fix the problems in this country and instead the problems grow. So the country wants change from both parties. Trump is doing better than Sanders because the GOP establishment has long fostered the notion that allowing the rich to run the country was good for everyone when it obviously is not while Democrats have at least offered some mild opposition to that concept publicly even though they back it behind the scenes. Given a few more years of the country being sucked dry by those in power the Democrats will wake up and join the revolution.

Why do you hate the First Amendment?

But isn’t Trump’s target of change everything but the 1% - building the wall, anti-immigration, etc is his most popular policy?

A sharp rise in Nationalism.

The GOP has sown the winds of jingoism, anti-intellectualism, and racial/religious tribalism, and is now reaping the whirlwind of a candidate willing to dispense with the usual veneer of (increasingly im)plausible deniability in order to fully tap those forces.

I’m a somewhat liberal Democrat and I blame the current problems mostly on how the Republicans have decided to govern during the Obama years. The Trump people tend to be less educated, white, blue collar workers. They are people who are mostly not doing as well as their parents did. The Democrats favor things which would help this group of people. Examples include support for universal healthcare, affordable higher education, increased consumer protections, a stronger social safety, and paying for all this by raising taxes on the 1%. The problem is that, from the point of view of the Trump supporters, while the Republicans suck at governing they are excellent at politics. This is how they have managed to hold congress since the 2010 elections. The Republican establishment somehow convinced this group of voters that things like cutting taxes on the wealthy, a healthcare system run by private insurance companies for their own benefit, a reduced social safety net, and less government support for poor people to receive higher education, will somehow benefit the Trump people. The fact is the Republican establishment is clearly only looking after the 1%, and really the 0.1%, but have convinced the Trump constituency otherwise. Furthermore they managed to get the Trump people to blame it all on the Democrats.

The main problem with the Democrats is that they have failed to counter the Republican narrative. In 2010 and 2014 the red state Democratic senators and house members all ran away from Obamacare and Obama’s policies. They all still lost to their Republican challengers. I think that these politicians should have instead embraced Obama and ran campaigns educating the public about what the Democrats stand for and what the Republicans stand for.

Going back far enough, Trump is a symptom of the abandonment of Reconstruction following the Civil War. :smiley:

In recent decades, I think his success is a symptom of the unwillingness of Republican party leadership to repudiate popular extremists like Limbaugh, Coulter, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and others, and extremist (and often racist) mini-movements/conspiracy theories like birtherism, Christian Dominionists, secret-Muslim-terrorist-conspiracies, and similar. That stuff just grew and grew until it was strong enough within the party to actually have its own nominee.

He’s not anti-immigration at all and he’s denounced the campaign finance system. Otherwise his positions are unclear and interpreted by the populous as being anti-establishment, and at least different.

Everything Trump says comes from listening to AM talk radio, watching FOX, reading message boards, Alex Jones videos, and listening to guys in a bar ranting about the world.

There are millions of people who believe this stuff. He just happened to be covered by the mainstream media when he announced his presidency.

I guess I keep returing to the irrationality - it’s not unique of course; people do vote against their own interests (as Obamacare shows - misplaced/embedded patriotism may be part of that story).

In some ways I wish I’d framed this differently now because it would be interesting to hear thoughts on whether Trump is - at least in part - the product of informed, ill-informed or misinformed voting demographics.

Maybe people traditional Republican just want out from the narrow political restraints - the rigged game - of the past decades and as long as it’s away from here, they can justify plenty of directions …

okay. It’s certainly an object lesson in campaigning, and marketing.

His dominance of the narrative is quite extraordinary. It looks like a world class strategy and effort by his team.

I’m just saying here that one can see it that way, but soon Trump will have to deal with the world were having just about 40% of Republican support will not be enough in the larger contest.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a clever theory. Basically he suggests that the GOP has spent decades building up a “nonsense debt” as an easy way of attracting low-information voters. Now the party finds itself in a position where a charismatic empty suit can win the nomination and there’s no way to call him on his bullshit because the GOP no longer has the capacity to make an appeal to facts or real-world consequences.

Well, it is interesting to see it not as societal level dysfunction but of a party pretty much imploding. I guess, really, what on earth do you do if you’re a traditional, mainstream republican.

So perhaps it really is like the lunatics have taken over the asylum…

The OP poses an excellent question. Just what drove Republicans to settle on Trump? My own humble opinion:

1- He fills the need for a scapegoat. Why admit that we need to be serious about governing and make some well thought choices in order to move forward? It’s so much easier to have scapegoats. Blame the blacks, blame the Mexicans, blame the Muslims. All of those “others” are the source of your trouble, not any choices that you made. Bill Clinton felt your pain, Trump shares your hate.

2- The public wants easy solutions with no thought to whether they have any basis in reality. Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. Bomb the shit out of ISIS. Replace Obamacare with something great. Keep Muslims out of the US. It doesn’t matter if what he promises is feasible, he appeals for people to believe he can make it happen through the force of his personality. We hate having to make tough choices- guns or butter, taxes or debt, war or peace. Why not have everything both ways? Cut taxes AND balance the budget! Woo hoo! How to do it? Cut waste and fraud! Why did nobody else think of it?

3- People want to be the bully. Hey, why try to be sensitive to minorities, women, or those who worship or love in ways that are different than you? It’s much more fun to demean people just for the sheer joy of it. Handicapped reporter gets rough on you? Make fun of his disability! Haw haw! What fun!

4- Morbid curiosity. What would happen if we elected the insult comic dog? Why not find out? Suppose instead of having debates about the issues, just throw insults at each other. Why spend your time thinking and analyzing when you can just laugh at the insults flying back and forth. Hey, who really cares who gets elected, why not see what happens?

5- Intellectual laziness. Why think when you can have Trump, Limbaugh, Savage, Coulter, or Fox think for you? Just relax and let them tell you how to think, how to vote, and who to hate. Save those brain cells for Wheel of Fortune.

Agreeing with Steve MB and Hamster King.

The Republican vision of governance only benefits rich, white people - and there aren’t enough of those to win elections. So they had to cultivate a base of people willing to vote against their own interests - using social issues as distractions, and keeping them uninformed using Fox News as a propaganda tool.

But even the most uninformed voters can see, after a while, that the Republicans aren’t doing shit for them. So instead of voting for one of the establishment guys that is saying the same things that all the other Republicans have for years, and then failed to deliver on … they’re voting for the loud-mouthed, ignorant jackass that they see as most similar to themselves. (Who is, ironically, the only rich, white guy in the race.)

Basically, Trump is the apotheosis of Republican political strategy. Sew the wind, reap the whirlwind.

I think this is the answer. The question is how far back does the GOP go in this thinking? To Bush and 9/11? To Reagan? Goldwater? Even earlier?

I remember the GOP being anti-intellectual in the 60s, with talk of “scientific eggheads” not exactly being complimentary.

However, no matter when it started, the GOPs been planting these seeds for a long time. Evidence of it bearing fruit is not only with Trump, but the rise of the Tea Party.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo offers a metaphor based on the idea of “programming debt” (the idea that if you slap something together to meet a deadline, you’re going to have to come back and spend more time fixing it later):

It’s easy to say the GOP has fostered this through their know-nothing tactics, but in actuality they adopted those tactics to add the simpletons to their coalition. There is something new here that is bringing in broad based support for Trump, it is not limited to the racist anarchist wing of their party anymore. And Sanders is evidence that the left wing has the same feelings.