I won’t vote for Donald Trump. Let me be clear on that. He’s a bully and says filthy, horrible things about women. About 15 percent of the things he says are morally reprehensible and cannot be overlooked.
But he still has a shot at the presidency, and here’s why: He is right about some things. And even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, we should not overlook what is driving his popularity, because it will not end with this election.
The media and Clinton supporters are focused on the way Trump communicates. But the millions of voters who support him agree with Trump that there are some things that are really wrong with America today.
They agree that “the system is rigged” in favor of people in political power and for big companies. They agree that Obamacare is hurting a large number of people. They agree that U.S. immigration policies are jeopardizing our security. And these voters understand that Hillary Clinton won’t change any of that, while Donald Trump just might.
Trump gets straight to the point and speaks plainly – sometimes too plainly. He makes sweeping statements about his views on government that quickly get to the heart of the issue as he sees it: Obamacare is a “total disaster;” our trade deals are horrible; Hillary wants completely open borders.
Trump often doesn’t say things the right way, but that doesn’t mean what he’s saying is entirely wrong.
As PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel put it last week, “The media always is taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously. I think a lot of the voters ... take Trump seriously but not literally.”
Trump is tapping into a potent feeling among Americans: Resentment toward the arrogance that the media, government leaders and people in big business have for the millions of Americans who aren’t in their “club” but who are working hard to pay their bills. Trump supporters understand they are viewed by these intellectual bullies as stupid white people who don’t know any better.
I learned an important lesson in college when I was president of my student government, and it is one that I don’t believe Clinton has learned yet: If you’re going to lead people, you have to like them. Clinton will have a problem leading the country because a large number of people understand she doesn’t like them.
Trump is definitely the wrong messenger. I will not support him and instead wrote in Jeb Bush. But Trump brings the right message in some cases. Millions of Americans believe a small group of people have too much power and are dictating how the rest of us should live our lives. The winner had better not overlook this important point.
Hamilton is chairman and co-founder of Sageworks.