Donald Trump’s Inexplicable Appeal Explained

Louis Nevaer

From our content partner New America Media:


NEW YORK — Since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, political pundits and media commentators have been predicting his imminent demise.


Despite that, Trump has now emerged as the likely Republican nominee come this fall’s election.


The Republican establishment — through Super PAC's supporting Jeb Bush — burned through more than $130 million in an effort to stop Trump, yet he continues to surge in the polls.


Donald Trump’s appeal, however, should not come as a surprise if it is seen in sociological terms.


While he is dismissed as a “reality show star” and a “celebrity,” it is precisely the nature of this notoriety that accounts for his appeal:  Trump has been in the living rooms of millions of Americans where he has been seen as a tough but fair boss, who held people accountable and made difficult decisions.


“The Apprentice” premiered on NBC in 2004. More a talent competition than an unscripted reality show, it depicted contestants of various ages, genders, and races assembled from around the country with various educational and professional backgrounds competing for the same position. In an elimination-style competition, various tasks were to be accomplished by two competing teams. The losing team then had to explain its loss — and one contestant, held ultimately responsible, was fired. The field whittled down until there was one contestant left who became the apprentice to Donald Trump.


The nature of this competition highlighted the leadership qualities that voters now attribute to the Donald. In a sense, they have watched Trump in action for years on TV, and many believe he's now up for the task as head of state.


In "The Apprentice" he set up difficult tasks. At the end of the competition, the two competing teams were  judged objectively. If the task was to, say, come up with an advertising campaign, advertising executives were there to judge the superior campaign. If the goal was to sell the most hamburgers at a diner, the cash register receipts determined which team won.


Over this fierce competition, personalities clashed, plans came undone, teams struggled to complete their assigned tasks — and the show went on. Donald Trump appeared throughout, offering advice, conferring with consultants, watching like a responsible boss from a distance.


But when the competition was over, both teams were assembled to the boardroom. Then the winning team was announced, congratulated, and dispatched to the penthouse for champagne and celebrations.


The losing team, however, had to explain itself.


Why did they lose? Was their plan inferior to the winning team? Who was the weakest link? Who was responsible for the mistakes that led to the loss? Who was ultimately responsible for the team’s failure?

Who would be fired?


It was all a game, of course, but year after year Americans have seen the leadership qualities Donald Trump brought to this successful show. He was fair in assigning tasks. He played no favorites. He was indifferent to a person’s gender, age, race, or background.



What mattered were results.


And when he determined which was the contestant who had to go, after “firing” the contestant, he briefly explained his thinking.


In this election cycle, it seems that Americans find tremendous appeal in his no-nonsense approach to completing the tasks at hand.


In “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump didn’t have to know what a winning advertising campaign was, or how to sell great hamburgers in a diner. He availed himself to professionals who were authorities in their field, for expertise.


But he was not beholden to them.


Americans believe this is the kind of leadership that is lacking in Washington. They believe Donald Trump has the experience — and leadership — to assemble the right teams of officials for the various tasks at hand — securing the border, creating incentives for companies to bring back jobs to America, empowering local government to handle the task of public education — without having to present 1,000 pages of policy positions — as Jeb Bush did on the website nobody visited.


And more to the point, American believe he will hold people responsible—and “fire” officials that fail to deliver.


Will it work?


At this point, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that, as polls and primary victories show, many Americans believe that Donald Trump will conduct himself in the Oval Office the way he has conducted himself in the Boardroom on the “The Apprentice.”


And that might be enough to get the votes necessary to make him the Republican nominee for President of the United States.


Author Bio:


Louis Navaer is the author of the first guides to Cuba compiled since the re-establishment of relations, Cuba As Never Before, and The Best of Havana: 2016.


From our content partner New America Media

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