One of the most fun aspects of the Donald Trump phenomenon is the conventional conservative media’s bewilderment as they try to understand his appeal. (There’s nothing interesting or surprising at all about the way that the elitist, left-wing mainstream media has covered Trump.)
From Fox News, to the Wall Street Journal, to National Review, to leading opinion makers such as George Will, Michael Barone, and Charles Krauthammer, most of the standard-bearers of mainstream conservatism have piled on with increasingly hysterical condemnation.
But he’s not really conservative! He’s cozied up to Democrats!, they tell us. He’s flip-flopped his positions on fundamental issues! He’s not knowledgeable about policy details!, they shriek. He’s a loudmouth, a loose cannon, a gaffe machine!
Does any devotee of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, or National Review need to be told these things?
Those who do respect their audience enough to present an analysis of why Trump is resonating inevitably focus on three major dimensions of his appeal: his focus on our immigration crisis; his populist criticism of our political class and their cohorts in big business; and his anti-PC candor. These are critical, valid stances, on the front lines of the culture war in which our elites are routing the nation. But they miss the point.
Donald Trump, alpha male
To praise Donald Trump for simply saying what’s on his mind or railing against “political correctness” is to fall far short in the accreditation that he deserves. Trump is the embodiment of the alpha male, and it is that very alpha-ness that this country needs given the problems that we’re facing at this time—more than any particular ideological stance or policy solution.
Chateau Heartiste, perhaps the leading “manosphere” blogger, has documented this phenomenon every step of the way since the beginning of his candidacy a few months ago. But do voters really understand what this implies, and will it resonate long-term as such beyond the manosphere?
Social-justice warriors are well on their way to completing the job of emasculating our culture. We are being overrun by an alien invading force. We are being trounced by our diplomatic adversaries. Solutions to these challenges within the American system will be driven partially by ideology, but to a greater extent by principled leadership. Donald Trump is a uniquely American personality who embodies what it means to lead from a foundation of American values.
Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had some alpha characteristics, but they were still creatures of our corrupt political machine. Trump is inviting us to vote for the man who is completely independent, and therefore sets his own rules; with trust in how he identifies with fellow Americans, managerial competence, and strong personality as more important than his stances on the issues.
We can gain hope from the fact that his persona stands so athwart our zeitgeist, so outside what our SJW-owned degenerate popular culture considers acceptable, yet he is resonating with the public. Trump brings to life the strong worldview of what a leader should be and how, specifically, that definition ought to manifest itself in our political leaders vis-à-vis their rivals (more on that later).
We are being treated to a clinic on the type of leadership that America needs at this time, and voters are responding.
- He is perceived to be, and in fact is, completely independent. Though he has business partners and customers like anyone who earns an income, he obviously is not beholden to any of them. When a few pusillanimous companies severed ties with him, he laughed and declared the impact immaterial.
- By setting the agenda with, remarkably, a single issue, he has gotten other candidates tied in knots.
- He has demonstrated extreme self-confidence, parried ridiculous shit tests, agreed and amplified putative insults, and refused to apologize to a stung snowflake who tried to embarrass him.
- He has asserted his authority in subtle ways, making multiple interviewers and the Republican chairman come groveling to his office, unlike most candidates. He’s set another agenda and put CNN on the spot by cleverly suggesting that the profits from their debate be donated to charity.
- He has sucked oxygen out of other contenders’ spheres, most notably Scott Walker, who was in the top tier before Trump entered and is now subject to the “not ready for prime time” grumblings, and Marco Rubio, whose weakness on immigration has become a major liability thanks to Trump’s raising of the issue. He also likely caused Rick Perry to drop out of the race.
However, Trump’s greatest asset—the flood lights illuminating his alpha attributes and behaviors, the neon flowing through the signboard at his campaign headquarters, the unobtanium fueling his rocket ship to the nomination—is Jeb Bush.
Jeb Bush, the quintessential cuckservative beta male
Should he win the nomination, Jeb Bush would probably be the most extreme beta male ever nominated for president by a major party—quite an accomplishment for a country that has recently had Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and of course Barack Obama as standard bearers. (To be bipartisan, one can acknowledge that George H.W. Bush came across as rather beta in his 1992 re-election bid, in contrast to his previous record; perhaps he lost his hunger for the job.)
Bush’s softness has been evident since his formative years. Despite his pedigree and good looks, he infamously married a Mexican peasant, apparently the first girl who ever paid attention to him. He jumped in, as he cringingly recounts as the first paragraph in his biography, even though she is not beautiful and possibly too stupid—and/or too selfish and/or too lacking in self-awareness, given that her husband comes from a prominent political family and would likely be in the public eye someday—to learn English in her decades in the U.S. Not to mention that Bush didn’t cajole her to do so, apparently even speaking Spanish with the family at home. We know who wears the pantalones in that household.
Bush’s political career has been defined by cuckservatism. He isn’t the only cuckservative major politician, the underlying idea didn’t just become relevant this summer, and of course Trump didn’t coin the term. However, this word would not exist if Trump did not enter the race against Jeb Bush. The concept arguably arises as the intersection of Trump’s focus on the immigration issue with Bush’s whole life story. Jeb Bush is the embodiment of the cuckservative and Donald Trump is the antithesis of it.
Donald Trump as the leading candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee would not exist without Jeb Bush.
After Trump referred to Bush as “low-energy”—a devastatingly salient, parsimonious insult if ever there was one—Bush felt the need to pathetically qualify himself with language right off of the beta male’s Facebook missives to his friend-zone crush: “The low-energy candidate this week has only been six days, 16 hours a day, campaigning with joy in my heart.” He prefaces any criticism of President Obama, “with all due respect. . .”
The contrast between them could not be starker.
There is no doubt that some of Trump’s support comes from people who recognize this contrast, though perhaps they can’t quite put their finger on it. They see Bush, and the disaster of President Obama, then look at Trump, and say, yeah, that’s the kind of guy I want as president; it doesn’t really matter where he stands on the issues as long as he’s not a leftist. It is similar to how the girl in the bar gets weak-kneed from the alpha male based on how he carries himself, without needing to know the details of his biography or his preferences.
The Trump phenomenon parallels that of Rudy Giuliani when he was first elected mayor of New York. No one mistook him for a hard-core conservative, but the quality-of-life problems in the city, especially crime, made him practically a one-issue candidate—especially versus David Dinkins, who embodied all that was wrong with New York. Combined with his toughness and self-confidence, he offered exactly what New York needed in 1993, just as Trump offers to the nation now.
What next for Trump?
There exists gossip about feuds between Trump and the Bush family predating the campaign, and media reports about Trump’s antipathy for Jeb in particular. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which Trump looked at the race, in which Bush was the front runner—especially in the coastal elite circles in which Trump travels—and said to himself, This guy?!? Anyone but him!
Trump has a big ego, and history with Bush, but it isn’t plausible that he entered the race primarily to throw a monkey wrench into Bush’s plans just out of spite: that would be way too beta for Trump. More likely, knowing Bush—i.e., the reason why he despises him in the first place—he knew that he could, and would be motivated to, present a perfect personality contrast. Combine that with the immigration issue, on which Bush would be vulnerable and on which no other candidate was representing most Americans’ views, and, voila, he has the ingredients for a viable challenge.
Trump will eventually need to be more disciplined on the stump and stake out a handful of coherent positions in major areas. One in which he will likely focus, which will serve to contrast him well with his beta opponents as well as the feckless appeaser currently in the White House, will be his strength in negotiating with adversaries, based on his immensely successful business record. “Never, ever, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran,” he declared at a rally recently. He will likely make similar references to President Obama’s “negotiations” with the Castros, with the Taliban over the deserter Bowe Bergdahl, and with others. This will be a winning issue among voters who agree with Trump’s views about America’s place in the world and see him as a strong negotiator. It will also naturally play into his alpha male bona fides.
Above all, though, Trump should continue to do what he has been doing. His persona, while turning off the pajama-boy beta lisp voting bloc, has a chance to expand the share of the electorate that will vote Republican. Not only will his personality resonate with women, but it could attract blacks, which would certainly doom the Democrats if they were to receive less than 80% of their vote.
The 2016 Republican primary is a great opportunity for the nation to apply leadership lessons beyond our own respective work, social, and dating lives—to connect the dots in an actionable way between the characteristics that we seek in our leaders and the larger culture war. This is not to advocate an Obama-style cult of personality, and there are certainly legitimate reasons for a conservative or libertarian to hesitate to support Trump. But all Americans of principle should reflect on the real challenges that the U.S. is facing and what they would look for in a representative to face those challenges.