Donald Trump is now officially the nominee of the Republican Party, and, on the heels of the Democratic National Convention, we should take a step back and acknowledge just how astonishing his rise to this current position actually is.
Out of the 44 United States Presidents, only two have never held an elected political office or a high-ranking military position: Presidents William Taft and Herbert Hoover. And those two had previously held high-ranking federal government positions (Secretary of War and Secretary of Commerce, respectively). Trump is one step away from becoming the first person to do what was otherwise unthinkable: infiltrate the political establishment as an outsider, and be elected to the highest position in country. History has shown that it doesn’t matter how wealthy you are, how intelligent, or how famous—if you weren’t already “in”, the political establishment wasn’t going to let you get your feet wet through becoming the President. Contrast that with Hillary Clinton—arguably the most qualified presidential candidate in the history of the United States—and it’s truly astounding.
Trump has, without a doubt, relied on rhetoric that blends fear, nostalgia, and anger amongst a large population of Americans. Less evident, however, is his ability to convince people that being President really isn’t that hard. After all, why else would so many Americans believe in an inexperienced presidential candidate now, when we never have before? Trump’s claim to fame is that he has convinced many Americans that being President isn’t about your knowledge of micro and macro economic growth factors, or the depth of your understanding of foreign policy. He’s convinced Americans that he’s the perfect candidate because he’s not an expert in politics (and not despite of it). He’s convinced many American’s that he’s just intelligent enough (so that you don’t feel dumb), just rich enough (so that you don’t feel poor), just successful enough (so that you don’t feel inadequate), and more importantly just different enough from the established politicians we love to hate, to be the president.
More importantly, in this age of quick information, short emails, 140 characters, and memes, Trump knows that Americans want easily digestible solutions, which makes the broadcasting of his messaging, combined with the messaging itself, “stick” and gain traction. After all, many of us have very simple (yet seemingly profound) advice for our bosses, our professional sports coaches, and most notably, our elected officials; we all think our simple solutions can fix the problems that we see.
Too many immigrants? Build a wall. Too much terrorism? Ban Muslims.
That logic is what has made Trump successful and able to connect to so many Americans. It’s what might make him the first President of the United States that has zero experience in government. For Donald Trump, it might just be right place at the right time. Or he might be a political savant that knew what would work: simple solutions to their biggest fears.