Why is Donald Trump so popular?
I have made no secret of my disdain for Donald Trump, but it is undeniable that he has captured the attention and admiration of a large segment of the Republican base. The guy who donated thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton and is a fervent opponent of private property rights nonetheless has a lot of Republicans hoping he is our nominee.
I think the reason is that Trump, for all of his silly antics, has been an extremely aggressive critic of President Obama, especially with the "birther" issue. At a time when many in the Republican base are fed up with the Washington establishment's moves on amnesty for illegal immigrants, Trump was aggressive to the point of being obnoxious in his criticism of illegal aliens. Granted, his criticisms were the racist, uninformed rantings of a know-nothing, but he is taking an aggressive stance that is a breath of fresh air to many in the Republican base.
Hopefully, Republicans will see through Trump's bluff and bluster to see why he would be a terrible choice for the Republican Party. Trump would be a disaster in terms of his electability, his ideology and his personal character. But Trump strikes the same chord that Sarah Palin has since 2008: Someone who is uncompromising, aggressive, fearless and uninhibited in his attacks on the Democrats, President Obama and the Left generally. Trump is basically a less serious, less intelligent and more clownish version of Palin. (Think about that for a minute.)
But what Trump's popularity with the Republican base shows is that Republican voters are longing for a top-tier candidate who will aggressively take it to the Democrats generally, and to Obama and Hillary Clinton specifically. (Whether Trump will aggressively attack Clinton, given his many donations to her, remains to be seen.) The content of Trump's blather is less important than the posture he is taking while delivering that blather.
If Republicans are to win the White House in 2016, they are going to need an excited Republican base to do it. Neither Mitt Romney nor John McCain were particularly exciting to the base. Republicans do not need to be (and should not be) obnoxious clowns, but Trump's popularity shows one thing that the Republican Party has been lacking: The courage to aggressively take it to the Democrats.