by Lowell Ponte
Popular anger at our political establishment is at last boiling over, as it has been on the verge of doing for decades, not only here but also in several European nations.
As one who began as a Washington journalist decades ago, then opted for
sanity instead, for me this is a long-expected moment of truth in our fevered American body politic. Is Donald Trump the physician to heal America?
As I write on the eve of the New York Primary, Donald Trump is expected easily to win his home state — just as Governor John Kasich won his state of Ohio and Senator Ted Cruz won Texas.
Given the effort that this billionaire media maestro invested in this contest, anything less than an 85 delegate win for Trump should be recorded as a defeat.
Trump’s advantages in the race for the Republican nomination have been enormous all along.
He is a television star with wide name recognition and with appeal as great as all but the top Hollywood movie stars.
As the New York Times estimates, Trump has been given $1.89 billion worth of free on-air prime time, mostly by the nation’s liberal media.
Several television networks even allow Trump to appear via telephone, a kind of media access they generally have denied to Trump’s opponents.
Why are so few of Trump’s supporters suspicious that the “liberal” media is their “conservative” candidate’s chief booster?
Is the “earned” media they give Trump an illegal $2 billion campaign contribution, or merely their tribute to his ability to boost ratings? Either way, it has grossly tilted and rigged the playing board in this election cycle.
And why have Trump’s fans in both the liberal and conservative media ceased tomention his “off the record” long interview with the left-of-center New York Times editorial board?
Leaked hints of this recorded conversation, including a remark by Trump himself, suggest that “The Donald” may have told these journalists that he would not really cut off the flow of cheap labor across America’s southern border with a wall or fulfill other promises.
Trump has refused to authorize the public release of this tape, just as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refuses to release transcripts of three private speeches before Goldman Sachs, for which these powerful bankers paid her $675,000.
We can reasonably infer that both Trump and Clinton want their remarks to remain hidden from their supporters.
“I love my poorly educated supporters,” Mr. Trump has said. Why confuse them with the whole truth?
Born to huge wealth and privilege, Donald Trump has gotten his way and been surrounded with sycophants most of his life.
Is this why he responds with fits, petulance and name-calling whenever he loses? Or does he accuse competitor Ted Cruz of lying and cheating merely to erase the infallible Trump’s many defeats?
Trump is right to point to anti-democratic elements in the Republican selection system, including some that his smarter and better prepared rival has used — within the rules – to win while Trump is away giving speeches in which he describes himself as the smartest person on Earth.
Trump is right to call for reforming this dishonest system. This should be done,but not by moving the goalposts while the well-defined game is still being played this year.
The problems are plain to see. In Florida, 54 percent of voters rejected Trump, yet he walked away with all 99 of Florida’s delegates. In fact, through most of the primaries he has gathered far more than his voterproportion of delegates.
The rules that allowed this are clearly corrupt, and Trump should give those “stolen” delegates back to his fragmented opponents. Rubio won 27 percent of Florida votes, and Cruz won more than 17% — between them winning
nearly as many votes as Trump, yet Rubio and Cruz got Zero Florida delegates. In this case Mr. Trump had no complaints about the rigged rules that favored him.
Former candidate Dr. Ben Carson reportedly has acknowledged that Trump offered him an unspecified political position. This rumor may or may not be accurate.
Before Trump seized on Dr. Carson as a way to bash rival Ted Cruz and dismiss his own defeat by Iowa voters, Trump had raised doubts about Dr. Carson’s Seventh Day Adventist religion and mental health in the same smarmy way Trump has attacked other opponents.
This story that Trump may have offered Dr. Carson a position needs to be clarified if Trump intends to win at the GOP convention in Ohio.
The state bribery law (Ohio Revised Code 3599.01) there reads in part: “No person shall before, during, or after any primary, convention, or election: (1) Give, lend, offer or procure or promise to give, lend, offer or procure or promise any money, office, position, place or employment, influence, or any other valuable consideration to or for a delegate, elector, or other person….”
Any delegate who allows himself or herself to be “bought” by Trump, or anyone else, at the Cleveland convention might also face criminal charges.
Donald Trump boasts of his long past buying and selling politicians. He now calls his expected Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton “crooked Hillary….She’s always been crooked.”
Trouble is, Trump has bragged of huge contributions he made to her, presumably for political favors, back when he knew she was crooked. Does this make him “crooked Donald?”
Trump claims to be cured of such vices, yet he daily demonstrates an obsessive lust for power and glory in his eagerness to say anything and to engage in any tawdry smear in order to win.
Perhaps this is why the liberal media loves Mr. Trump so much….and why his followers need to wake up, smell the coffee, and snap out of his hypnotic spell.
Ask him yourselves why Trump refuses to authorize release of the New York Times tape, or his personal and business tax records.
Donald Trump is a master communicator, and he may even be well-intended. But this does not guarantee that his populism and narcissism are the medicines our fevered body politic needs.
Lowell Ponte is a veteran think tank futurist and a former Roving Editor at Reader’s Digest magazine. His latest book, co-authored with Craig R. Smith, is We Have Seen The Future and It Looks Like Baltimore: American Dream vs. Progressive Dream. Ponte’s opinions here are solely his own.