WASHINGTON – Here is some political news that will move the needle. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (he recently quit the race for the Republican nomination) just endorsed Donald Trump. On the face of it this may not mean that much since Christie was a weak candidate with very limited national support.
A big deal
But in fact this means a great deal. The conventional wisdom until today was that all the non-Trump votes will eventually converge on an “Establishment Candidate”, possibly Marco Rubio. Well, not so. Christie is an unusual politician. But he is a moderate. And yet now he is with Trump.
This is a big deal. This means that Christie out of conviction or calculation realizes that Trump is leading a national anti-establishment wave that has not been fully understood by the professional politicians and the professional media that cover them. He wants to join it. Expect many others to follow.
A different leader
The fact is that Trump, in his own unorthodox ways, managed to embody what millions of Americans crave: a strong leader with a real presence, not beholden to anybody. This may look like a very low bar for the next President. But for millions of Americans it seems to be enough.
The rest does not matter. Nobody really cares about detailed policy positions, nuanced figures, projections on GDP growth and ways to achieve Social Security reform. Most voters really do not care about any of this. They just want a Big Picture guy in charge who will take care of things.
On this note, the pundits concluded that Donald Trump, under attack from both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, did not do so well in the latest televised Republican debate. They concluded that Trump lacked substance. He could not articulate his positions in an elaborate way.
A self-confident man
May be so. But the fact is that nobody cares. I watched a self-assured Trump give a speech in Texas the day after the debate. He certainly did not seem perturbed by whatever happened during the debate. He was his usual self: a confident man on stage, painting a rosy picture of how America will be great again after he has a chance to change everything in Washington, and more.
Yes, his long speech was not neatly organized. He jumped from topic to topic: immigration, the border, jobs, trade, China, health care, the support he is getting from Evangelicals. And all this was laced with sarcastic humor aimed at his opponents, especially Marco Rubio.
“I am not a politician”
No, this was not the typical politician’s stump speech. This was not the usual litany of canned policy positions. It was something else. Perhaps the most enlightening thing Trump said a couple of times is this: “I am not a politician”.
And here we may find the key to his success. Indeed, Trump is not a politician. But he wants to do something really big, and he is at ease with crowds. He always has something to say. And he says it forcefully.
Look, just like Trump, Doctor Ben Carson is not a professional politician. And what he says about fundamental American values does resonate with some people. But only very few people. And much of that may have to do with delivery.
Carson is soft-spoken. Trump shouts. And Trump is a master of the stage. He understands the role of the media in our society. He has the right instincts, and the right TV image.
Big changes ahead
And he promises big changes, radical transformations. This is what millions of Americans want. A new leader who looks strong and believable, because he is definitely not part of the usual crowd.
No, Trump is not another professional politician. His unconventional style resonates. And this is why he may end up winning (probably) the Republican nomination. And, if he is really lucky, the White House.