By Richard Barry / 04.27.2016
As a politics watcher, I try very hard to bracket my own politics when analyzing what I think is going on “out there.” It’s not easy to do, but if one is going to try to say something meaningful, it is necessary.
Thus the whole question of a candidate’s “likeability” is a thorny one. For example, I loathe Donald Trump but have to admit that for a certain kind of voter, apparently many of this type, he’d quite the guy: plain spoken, earthy, a truth talker (apparently), but mostly, even though he’s a billionaire and most others are not, a relateable and accessible fellow. He’s the kind of guy you could have over to the house to watch a football game and boy would he be a barrel of huks, giving everybody cute nicknames and talking about how much he loved women (maybe just as the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders took the field).
Though the Donald embarrasses me greatly and I can barely tolerate listening to him, I get that he makes a lot of people feel comfortable and even happy maybe because he validates their prejudices instead of challenging them. And who needs some high and mighty ass on stage telling us we need to do a better job of caring for the less fortunate or being mindful that differences in other people rarely do us harm, and that we would should all chill? Who needs that kind of buzz kill?
There are no flies on Trump supporters and he is there to tell them that he is one of them, and they only need to keep on doing what they are doing and he will, through the application of common sense, make the country and the world bend to what his supports know is right.
What’s not to like? The consummate salesman can figure out what a customer “needs,” and make said customer fall in love with said saleman for having the ability to look into the soul of the buyer to discover that a red sports car will solve all problems, including that pesky midlife crisis. The salesman is surely not going to introduce reality into the equation by pointing out that the car is not really affordable and that it won’t change anything life-wise. No, no, no.
Donald Trump is selling dreams, and that is some sweet stuff. What could make a person more likeable than saying things that are pleasant to hear, especially as they mask unpleasant realities?
While Donald Trump is good at tearing people down, he is also good at painting a picture of what might be, even though there are virtually no specifics provided including how to get anywhere from here. No matter, that is the sweet spot of politics. Tell them where you want to take them and they will follow you. Tell them it will be easy, and they will love you.
I get Trump and understand why his supporters love him. You know who I don’t get? Ted Cruz.
A lot of people are saying that for the Never Trump movement to have any traction, there has to be a viable alternative. Kasich is too far behind and Ted Cruz is just a mass of ugliness and negativity. Much as I revile Cruz’s politics, even if, in an act of pure imagination, I were to think like a movement conservative, I am sure I would find nothing compelling about Cruz, no reason to follow him, no reason to trust he could deliver on a vision.
I found it fascinating, therefore, to hear that he was vetting former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as a potential running mate remembering that, back in the day when there were seemingly countless GOP presidential contenders, Fiorina was probably the only candidate on that stage less likeable, less relateable, less human than Ted Cruz.
Could this be by design? Could it be that Ted Cruz is seeking a running mate who will make him seem other than what he obviously is by comparison?
I am a liberal democrat. I’m not voting for Donald Trump, or Ted Cruz, or Carly Fiorina. But I get Trump. I don’t get Ted Cruz, and I know he surprised in Texas when he became a senator though I’m having a very hard time imagining a lot of Republicans who are being asked to stop Trump also saying “Yeah, Ted Cruz, love that guy.”