The New Daily
By Sean McComish
What is it that Americans love about Donald Trump? The billionaire reality TV star has insulted just about everyone and yet he’s leading the Republican race for the White House.
There’s the colourful arrogance and the long history of attention-seeking behaviour that has included everything from TV shows to board games. He’s a populist who speaks his mind — a strategy that has carried him well in the polls so far.
And, of course, there’s that mop of orange hair perched above his forehead. Trump is a successful businessman, a billionaire and he’s entertainingly reckless.
Roll it all together and it starts looking like a sickly sweet version of the American dream.
He didn’t bat an eyelid earlier this month after claiming Mexican migrants were “bringing drugs, bringing crime and their rapists” to America.
But the most anger was created by his comments that Republican senator John McCain was “not a hero” for enduring five years as a POW during the Vietnam War.
Far from scaring off voters, they are flocking to him.
A national poll conducted by The Washington Post and America’s ABC News just prior to Trump’s remarks on McCain found 24 per cent support from registered Republican voters.
The figure was double that of rival, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, on 12 per cent. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was sitting on 13 per cent.
But the poll, done over several days, reported a sharp drop in support for Trump on the final day after the McCain comments.
Despite the tasteless outbursts, or perhaps because of them, does he have a shot at president? And will his strategy — if that’s what you call it — work?
Several experts have told The New Daily it’s hard to see Trump gaining Republican support after attacking McCain.
La Trobe University Professor Dennis Altman says we’ve seen a similar politician in Australia.
“There’s clear parallels in Australia with Clive Palmer,” Professor Altman said.
“You have an ego-maniac, an over-the-top-populist with unlimited resources who appeals to people who are angry with our current politicians.
“Like Clive Palmer, I think Donald Trump will burn out because populism is easily punctured.”
But overall, he says Republicans simply won’t see Trump as someone with the characteristics to be president.
“I would be very surprised if we are still talking about Trump early next year,” Professor Altman said.
Former Labor strategist Bruce Hawker doesn’t rate Trump’s campaign highly so far.
“Personally I think it’s appalling on the basis of the things he has said,” Mr Hawker told The New Daily.
“Up until his comments on John McCain he has been considered a front-runner.”
Mr Hawker, who led Kevin Rudd’s 2013 political campaign, said he expected Trump’s bid for the White House to “flame out”.
“Even though he is extremely newsworthy, I think the GOP (Republican) establishment will start to respond fairly aggressively,” Mr Hawker said.
“I think people will start to see increasingly erratic behaviour in his announcements.”
Research Associate at the United States Studies Centre Malcolm Jorgensen believes Trump is another candidate who has benefited from the 24-hour news cycle’s thirst for urgency.
“The vision that he’s offering is one stripped away of political complexity, which is necessary for politics. And the views that he is offering are populist ones,” Mr Jorgensen said.
“He’s tapping into the distrust of politicians.”
Whether or not this means democracies will see more cashed-up candidates like Trump remains to be seen, Mr Jorgensen said.
He points to other leaders like Silvio Berlusconi, who was still “a blustery leader with a lot of money”.
“These characters have popped up all over the world.”
As for Trump’s chances, Mr Jorgensen says attacking the “golden calf of American politics” — military veterans — certainly won’t help the wealthy contender.
“He may have jumped the shark … you don’t challenge military heroism in America,” he said.
This article was originally published at The New Daily