Why You Want To Listen To Donald Trump

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 10.854% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Obama’s former Director of Speech Writing just wrote a victory speech for Donald Trump.  But there’s a trick:
90% of this speech is lifted from things Donald Trump has already said.
And it is frighteningly appealing to moderates.
“No!” you cry.  “Trump is the guy who talks about Mexican rapists and Megyn Kelly on her period and – and all that offensive stuff!  I don’t need to listen to him!”
And you know what you are?
You’re Republican voters in 2012, so outraged by your friends’ portrayal of The Other Guy that you forgot there’s a reason The Other Guy is popular.
And if you were a Republican in 2012, you got the highlight reel of Obama saying stupid things about bitter people needing guns and religion and Obama lying about “If you like your health care, you can keep it” and all sorts of vaguely misinterpreted stuff spun in the worst way.
And when he went into the 2012 debates, he got the exact same boost that every Democratic candidate gets, simply by showing up.  All a Democratic candidate has to do these days is not arrive with a set of devil horns breathing fire, and they’re automatically ahead of the curve by what most voters expect to see.
Do I agree with Donald Trump?  Fuck no.  But it’s good to know your enemy by your enemy, instead of his worst sound bites. There’s a reason Donald Trump is currently swinging a big stick, and it behooves you to try to figure out what’s so damn appealing about this.  And if you shrug it off with “Well, it’s xenophobia!  His voters are stupid!” and move on without listening, then you’re gonna be the inverse of that Republican who is shocked when he trots out all his standard anti-Obama lines that sell so well in The Land Of People Who Know Obama By His Worst Sound Bites and discover that, in fact, most people aren’t buying it.
Look.  We’ve got to the point in this country where Richard Dreyfuss showing up at a Ted Cruz rally to see what the hell Ted Cruz had to say got him pilloried.  Listening to your opponent to see what’s appealing is not a betrayal, it’s smart business.
If you really hate a politician, it’s still worth listening to them to figure out what sorts of aspects they’re appealing to.  Because it’s usually not entirely what the sound bites would have you believe.
So even if you can’t stand to listen to Trump directly, go read this pastiche speech and imagine that delivered at the Republican National Convention.  Imagine how it’d go over with your politically-unaware friends, how it’d sound to someone who’s not been paying meticulous attention to the primaries – which, may I remind you, is a comparatively rare trait even among primary voters.  For most of the country, the race hasn’t even started yet.
And if you’re politically active, prepare some arguments that will work against the Donald Trump that people see when they listen to the whole speech, and not just the highlights reel arguments.  Because they are different things.
Now.  Go read.


  1. Evil Laugh Guy
    Feb 12, 2016

    That’s terrifying. If I didn’t know the other stuff that spacious makes him sound reasonable.

  2. Alexis
    Feb 13, 2016

    You might be right, but listening to such a hateful person is seriously painful. I want to vomit every time I even see Ted Cruz’s smirking face, much less hear his voice.
    I think the sad truth is, a lot of white people, especially old white men, are really racist. They love the very things about Trump that make the rest of us sick. They want a racist hater to kick Muslims out of “their” country. They want to build a wall between us and Mexico.

  3. Bridget
    Feb 14, 2016

    If I might respond from the (libertarian) Republican side of the fence, I have to tell you, the six people in my immediate family (also Republicans) all started out against this obnoxious side-show that is The Trump, but we’re all increasingly less opposed to him, and now even intrigued/eager to see him succeed (to some degree). None of us are old white men; I think we like what he’s saying specifically because we have been watching the debates and not just the hot-takes of the most obstreperous thing he’s said this week. There aren’t good choices leaping up out of that field of candidates–per ISideWith.com, I agree much more with Rubio than I do with Trump, and I’ll vote that way, but I’m fine with him staying in for a lot longer if he can spur an effort by Republicans to plug back into some of the rest of the country (as noted in this astoundingly insightful article, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/01/29/why_trump_why_now_129486.html which accurately captures why the “establishment Republicans” aren’t gaining traction — they come from the same cultural milieu that Sanders and Clinton do, and it shows to the ‘base’.)
    Moreover, I want him to stay in longer until more than just a few people realize the parallels between him and Sanders. There’s a visceral disdain in many voters for the candidate(s) that their respective political machines produced, expecting them to fall in line. And now these insurgent candidates are succeeding on a message that the compact made under a series of presidencies filled by the machines haven’t held up when it comes to the experiences of [young students & recent grads for Bernie/down-on-their-luck (mostly but not exclusively white) folks for Trump].
    I have the privilege of living in a bastion of cultural cosmopolitan life; I don’t fall into either of the above ticked-off demographics. But all my fellow recent grads do, and while Sander’s free college plan appalls my sometimes-Libertarian voting sensibilities — I know exactly where it’s coming from, and for their sake I hope he shellacs Clinton in another several states. And for my Rust Belt extended family (who fit to a tee Ferrett’s description of people for whom the race is only just beginning) I hope Trump keeps agitating for a while longer, even though I think his ‘wall’ would be as wasteful as free universal college.

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