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Why Trump Is Winning

If you think there is some esoteric philosophical, social, or political explanation for Donald Trump's political success it is probably because you have fallen for the great political lie that politics actually matters.

H.L. Mencken explains why Donald Trump is winning, and is most likely to win the presidency. [All unspecified quotes are Mencken's.]

"When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental—men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

I personally thought we had already achieved that goal with the current president, but there are always improvements. While I believe the two candidates from the other party fit Mencken's view of politicians better than Donald Trump:

"Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons."

With regard to the election, Trump holds the winning hand, so to speak:

"A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in."

In the end, the reason elections are won has nothing to do with policies or platforms, and certainly not principles, but on whoever puts on the biggest and most entertaining show. While Sanders is sometimes mildly entertaining, Hillary is nothing but a huge bore.

Here is a typical conservative's wrongheaded criticism of Trump:

"It's hard to say whether Donald Trump would govern as a conservative because Donald Trump doesn't ever say anything of substance." [Emphasis mine.]

This is why anyone who takes any part of politics seriously will never understand the political process. "Saying anything of substance," is the last thing a successful political candidate would do. It is not how elections are won.

"Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."

The general level of ignorance of the "plain people" has certainly not improved since 1926, when that was written. If it was unsafe to say anything of substance then, it would be political suicide today.

And, by the way, that last quote from Mencken explains both Donald Trump's financial success as well as his probable political success.

So, unless you mean it as entertainment, spare us all the fine political analysis, just sit back and enjoy the show!

—(02/25/16)