Why Donald Trump Is Winning

Donald Trump, Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein
The FBI is “a den of thieves and lowlifes!” Jail the liars! Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.
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President Donald Trump’s approval ratings are on the rise. Although his administration seems to be mired in dysfunction and scandal, his poll numbers are up four points since hitting a low of 36.4 percent at the end of last year. That makes sense, because Trump is, for lack of a better word, winning.

Granted, a 40 percent approval rating isn’t great, but the uptick reflects that a growing number of voters view this president as effective. They see slightly bigger paychecks and an economy that seems to be solid. They see Trump threatening trade wars and other countries caving. They see signs of peace on the Korean peninsula and give the president’s hardline stance credit.

In other words, they see strength. And voters like strong leaders. But there are different kinds of strength. There is strength of character — a quality even the most charitable observer would not assign to Trump. The president does display a great strength of conviction — he is convinced that he is a “stable genius,” the best negotiator, incredibly effective leader, etc. — but his narcissism was well known before his approval ratings went up.

No, the strength that has led to his recent successes is a different one: It’s the strength of a bully nobody wants to stand up to. What Trump’s allies and adversaries seem to have forgotten from their grade school days is that if you give a bully your lunch money today, he is going to take it again tomorrow.

If you’d quiz them privately, most leaders in Washington and abroad would probably tell you that Trump is a mere caricature of a leader. He is boorish, undisciplined, undiplomatic, ignorant, and shows no inclination to learn. If he weren’t the leader of the most powerful country in the world, he would be a laughingstock.

Because he is, however, his bullying act works. For a variety of reasons, the people who should stand up to Trump, both in the US and internationally, prefer to appease rather than confront him.

Republicans in Congress, for the most part, don’t dare to speak out publicly.

“It’s fun to listen to Republicans vent off the record, but most Americans don’t get to hear any of that,” conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote recently. “They do hear the silence, however.”

Those who do speak up, like Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) or Bob Corker (R-TN), are retiring and even then they usually fall back in line. The others don’t want to rock the boat, seeing that they may only have a few months left to push their agenda through Congress. And none of the lawmakers sticking around want to be on the receiving end of Trump tweets with primary season upon them.

The White House leaks like a sieve and there are almost daily stories quoting frustrated staffers who think Trump is incompetent or worse. But nobody goes on the record with their concerns that this president might be on the way toward doing the US great harm.

Democrats in Congress offer some resistance but, in the end, they generally don’t play hardball. Especially in the Senate, where they could do more to “gum up the works,” political expediency rules the day. In the end, there is almost always a deal or a vulnerable red-state Democrat who crosses the aisle and helps confirm a Trump nominee or supports some bill.

Internationally, the EU and China, both of which could really hurt the US in a trade war, are still pulling their punches instead of seeking open confrontation. In their case, appeasement might make the most sense because they feel that Trump will eventually make them stronger on the international stage by making America weaker.

And on Wall Street, where people must know that Trump’s policies will do more harm than good in the long run, they are too busy making a buck before the next bubble bursts.

All of these groups have their own reasons for not standing up to Trump. These reasons might even make sense in the short-term — just like handing over that lunch money might seem like a better idea than getting popped in the mouth.

But, in the long run, either the law catches up to bullies or they get popped in the mouth by somebody who is sick of having their lunch money taken.


The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Donald Trump caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), Andrew McCabe caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), Rod Rosenstein caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), and seal (the White House).

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9 responses to “Why Donald Trump Is Winning”

  1. Kalina's mom says:

    Bullies legally empowered can be deadly. The suicide note of my 14-year-old daughter, Kalina, implicates Donald Trump and another authority figure in her life. I naively believed that in the long run “the truth will out”, but Kalina’s time ran out first. The parallels between Trump and my daughter’s personal bully were made apparent during the summer of 2016. Ironically, it was the equivalent of “Republicans vent[ing] off the record” who made her aware of the connection. Perhaps knowledge is power. However, it takes courage to act on that knowledge in standing up to bullies. When people turn a blind eye to bullying, how can children have hope for themselves, let alone their country?

    Trump isn’t the only role model sending a message that bullying is acceptable. Other authority figures in kids’ lives get away with such behavior using the same tactics to manipulate a system charged with “best interest of the child”. Despite good intentions, children are effectively treated as property, without a voice of their own. It only takes one individual with their own “alternate truths” to ruin a child’s life. Using the same tactics as Trump, by threatening law suits and portraying themselves as the victim, such bullies intimidate children and those trying to help.

    Some kids might think that it’s OK to be vulgar and abusive towards others because of Trump. Other children learning that life isn’t fair lose hope for a future. The suicide rate of my daughter’s demographic more than doubled during her brief lifetime. Is it any wonder that of our kids are killing themselves?

  2. Yesy Perez says:

    It is interesting to me to see how there are so many things that go against our moral and ethical values with the way Trump is running the country, yet we are still in his favor because of what he can provide us with; financial stability, peace, etc. He does not promise anything new, he presents the same ideas of those presidents before him. I say ideas because that is all they were and for many citizens they still are. We want to somehow blame others for the problems of this country. We want to blame poverty for illegal immigration, unemployment to illegal immigration, the lack of care for Veterans because of illegal immigration. We forget that because of illegal immigration we are able to buy vegetables at low and affordable prices, dairy products, poultry foods, etc. If it was not for immigrants, not so many illegal immigrants this country would not flourish as much as it has been. President Trump speaks of the wall as if it was the solution to the problem, yet our problem stands with needing the help of outsiders to take care of what the insiders refuse to.
    This all ties down to how the information is being communicated “Jurgen Ruesch argues that “there is no single set of ethical rules that control communication.” Instead, he contends, “we have to specify what purposes the communication serves.” this is one thing that Trump does well, it may be ethical nor appropriate but he gets the audience’s attention. Like it’s mentioned in this article “most leaders in Washington and abroad would probably tell you that Trump is a mere caricature of a leader. He is boorish, undisciplined, undiplomatic, ignorant, and shows no inclination to learn. If he weren’t the leader of the most powerful country in the world, he would be a laughingstock.” Let us hope that other countries continue to see us as powerful so that we don’t lose that respect.

    Johannesen, Richard L.; Valde, Kathleen S.; Whedbee, Karen E.. Ethics in Human Communication (Page 99). Waveland Pr Inc. Kindle Edition.

    • Alice says:

      What I will never understand is why people support ILLEGAL immmigration. It’s illegal. The prices are lower because they are taking jobs away from tax paying citizens who offer goods (Vegetables, poultry, etc.) without dodging taxes. Come to this country legally, like so many millions of others have done, and seek the American dream like they have. If you don’t understand how this works, then you’re part of the problem. This country flourishes because of honest hardworking legal citizens, not because of illegal immigrants. They do not contribute to our economy, because they are not a part of this country – they do not pay taxes towards the many benefits this country offers. I think that the author of this article is wrong when he states that Trump is ignorant and boorish. Look how he is handling the entitled brat, Kim jong-un. Obama just appeased him, and funded his weapons. Trump cut him off, and now we are finally making headway in disabling this guy. The economy is booming. The unemployment rate is at an all time low. Yeah, he says some weird shit on social media, but the guy is killing it at his job. The media is incredibly biased, and twists and spins everything to make it look like he’s failing, but everyone who is not a complete idiot (for lack of a better word) is getting really tired of hearing the negative spin on his success.

  3. david says:

    Trump does as he is told.

  4. R S Thapar says:

    The article ignores the effect of Trump’s Syria bombing on his ratings. It has been proved earlier that every time a US President bombs another country , his approval ratings go up. Trump has been no different and a war-hungry US Deep State will always support military actions. Trump had said some time ago that he will withdraw from Syria. If he does that you can bet his approval rating will come down to less than 30 from the present 40.

  5. alan says:

    Other sites are saying that Trump’s approval rating is now 50%. So just put that number out there and we are expected to believe it. I don’t for a second.

  6. You attribute his appeal to his bullying, but I don’t think so. After his State of the Union speech, there was a panel of Republicans. One of the last questions was whether they would vote for Trump next time, and there was a resounding yes from all of them. Judging from what they had said before, it was clear that their support was predicated on their belief that he was good for the economy: Wall Street, jobs, the impending boom from income tax saving. That was all that interested them. We are beside ourselves railing at his character failings, but these people couldn’t have cared less. It wasn’t in their equation. We’d be well-served to pay attention to that and not spin our wheels articulately lamenting the horror. And what a graphic demonstration this is of the need for our materialistic worldview, where money is the measure of success, to shift to where caring about each other is as important as caring about ourselves.

  7. SUSAN LINDAUER says:

    49 % approval rating. I’m a life-long Democrat who will NEVER vote Democrat again. I’m shocked by the corruption at DOJ & the sociopath mentality that it’s acceptable to prosecute political opponents.

    Do any of you realize the “13 Russians” ONLY engaged with Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders and once with Michael Moore to ATTACK candidate Donald Trump??? Are you aware that he was the TARGET of their Anti-Trump campaigns? You don’t know that, do you?

  8. james warren says:

    According to the book “Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World where Facts Don’t Matter,” Trump is a master persuader.

    One of the points in the book is that people can rarely be convinced by stating facts.