A few months back, a former staffer for Donald Trump wrote about his campaign. She stated that it was only meant to be a protest, and he planned on bowing out with a small percentage of the vote. Trump’s plan, by my conclusions so far, was to leverage the discontent from voters and convert it into personal profit. A candidate that resonates with the angst of conservative, poorly educated white people has a base that will enthusiastically buy into whatever they’re selling.
In other words, Donald Trump recognized years ago that claiming President Obama might not be an American citizen would endear him to a demographic that is absolutely terrified of no longer being a privileged class in this country. Coupled with the rise of the Tea Party movement, there is a populist resentment against Washington and the status quo which political figures and pundits are more than happy to exploit. Just look at the myriad of social media pages across the ideological spectrum designed to profit off the anger and outrage, targeted at those who will believe and share anything they see, often without reading past the headline.
This environment was a perfect opportunity for Trump to promote himself and his business ventures once again, this time by running for president. He likely figured that he could safely run in the extremely crowded field and finish second or third to Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. He’d tell his supporters that system was rigged against him, but still make a backroom deal to endorse the nominee and then head back to Trump Tower with millions of new customers to buy his products.
That’s how I believe his plan was supposed to work, but that obviously is not how it turned out. Nobody, myself included, had any idea how wildly popular his campaign would become with the small core of voters who turn out for primary elections. Donald Trump didn’t plan for the long haul, based on his lack of staff and fundraising. His initial exit strategy, if he thought it that far through, won’t work at this stage in the game.
Unfortunately for Donald Trump, and the rest of America, he’s now a prisoner of his own ego. He can’t back out of the presidential race now, and running a country is a lot different from running casinos into the ground. If Trump were to back out, his base would be furious with their messiah and turn to another figure who would fill that void. Trump’s only choice now is going all the way to November and sabotage his campaign just enough to ensure that Hillary Clinton wins by just enough that he can whine about the system being rigged. I can’t think of any conclusion to this debacle that won’t be extremely messy, both for Trump, and our political system as a whole.