The days of the fabricated candidate are numbered. If it doesn’t officially end with next year’s presidential election, it will end soon after. When given a choice between an authentic, annoying candidate and an appealing candidate, the former will ultimately win.
This truth was illustrated in Texas with the failed candidacy of Beto O’Rourke in the 2018 Senate election. O’Rourke’s campaign broke records for funding, as Democratic donors nationwide hoped to turn the state blue. “Beto” signs were everywhere and every magazine and local paper crowned him the next Kennedy while burying or downplaying his scandals. O’Rourke, a relatively obscure and untalented congressman, became a household name overnight.
More importantly, O’Rourke ran as a moderate. People may forget this, as he now spews anti-American vitriol, blames President Trump for mass shootings, advocates gun-confiscation, and eats New Mexican dirt just to stay relevant. In last year’s Senate debates, O’Rouke followed the moderate’s handbook: keep purposely vague on policy, stick with heartwarming anecdotes, and state the obvious.
All this helped O’Rourke come close to flipping Texas blue, but opponent Ted Cruz won in the end—not because he toned down his language or kept neutral, but because he stressed just how fake O’Rourke and all the Democrats were. Cruz may have many off-putting qualities, but he never pretends to be moderate or flexible. Authenticity won that race, even with suburban voters, and it will continue to win most political contests if Republicans resist the temptation to go squishy.
Being Real Beats Being Fake
The Democrats, being who they are and usually having bad or no records, have to fake their moderation and hope that a sycophantic media insulates them. Their most genuine candidate running for president is cranky old socialist Bernie Sanders, which probably explains why his supporters would vote for Trump over the other Democrats.
Despite this new political reality, many conservative writers and commentators still urge Trump to just stop tweeting and let these things go. Ben Shapiro repeats this point regularly on his podcast, making the argument familiar: the media uses these tweets to perpetuate the narrative that Trump is unstable and dangerous; they make the Democrats look good by comparison; and they turn off the crucial demographic of soccer moms in the suburbs.
Shapiro reiterated yet again in a recent article: “All too often, Trump’s tweets are bad, both morally and politically. And the media always would prefer to jabber about those tweets than about news that harms Democrats.” However, this argument relies on three weak assumptions: (1) that the media would leave Trump alone if he kept quiet, (2) that his enemies are somehow more professional and stable by comparison, and (3) that people in the suburbs are really bothered by Trump’s tweets.
A quick review of recent Republican presidents and presidential candidates easily refutes the idea that the mainstream media (or as Trump puts, the “Lamestream Media”) would cover Trump differently if he played nice. They would still call him Hitler like they did with George W. Bush. They would still call him a bigoted plutocrat like they did with Mitt Romney. And they would still call him a racist extremist like they did with John McCain.
Bad Coverage Is Still Coverage
It bears mentioning here that the only thing worse than what the media would call Trump is not calling him anything at all. As Oscar Wilde says, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Trump’s tweets and rallies keep him talked about, and this helped him and others win the election and stay in the news. By contrast, the relative restraint of Trump’s Republican primary rival Cruz allowed the media to ignore him even after he won the first GOP primary.
Because the media cannot help covering Trump, they will never ignore him. They would lose the few viewers they have. Even if they have to make up a story about Trump—and one could argue that Russian collusion was such a story—they will. Therefore, Trump can either choose to offer provocative (and often funny) tweets for desperate media or let them run away with fantasies.
It is also important to note that Trump has acted as a poison pill (or maybe a laxative) for the media that continues to expose its political and cultural bias. The low ratings and increasing distrust of the media among Americans clearly indicate that this obsession with Trump has hurt the media far more than it has hurt him.
Lying About Trump Hides Truth About Democrats
Yet, for all the talk of Trump’s stubbornness, few in the media seem to question their own stubbornness in turning public opinion against Trump. Few apologies or retractions ever come out when the New York Times or any big outlet mixes facts, prints a false story, or deliberately pushes a narrative. Rather, they will usually remedy their lack of objectivity with sanctimony.
For this reason, observers should think twice before accepting the glowing portrayals from this same media in its coverage of Democrats. In reality, the Democrats have moved further left to the point of embracing disturbing positions. While journalists agonized over SharpieGate, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden blamed the genocide of Darfur on climate change and Sanders pushed population control. The rest of the Democratic candidates at the seven-hour town hall all endorsed the Green New Deal, a plan so ridiculous that no one, not even its writers, voted for it.
Then there’s the Squad. One was the brilliant mind behind the Green New Deal who calls Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities concentration camps; another supports and is supported by terrorist groups and is an anti-Semite; another, also an anti-Semite and affiliated with terrorist groups, blames the United States for Venezuela’s dysfunction, violated campaign laws, lied to immigration officials about her marriage, and has recently had an affair with a married man; and another essentially told an audience that people were traitors to their communities if they do not accept leftist ideology.
Even if people somehow ignore this group’s popularity and considers them the outliers of the Democratic Party, they cannot ignore the glaring fact that they are still part of the Democratic Party. None of their fellow Democrats will correct or disagree with them—on the contrary, they will usually support them. The whole party is complicit in extremism and deserves to be seen as such. A moderate or centrist Democrat has become an oxymoron at this point.
The Tweets Don’t Endanger the Suburbs
Finally, people should reconsider whether Trump’s tweets really do turn the suburbs blue. This conclusion followed the blue wave (or blue ripple, depending on how one looks at it) of the 2018 midterms. No one seems to question how the Democrats greatly outspent Republicans, enjoyed free positive media coverage, or the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation casting a dark cloud over Trump and the Republican Party.
These factors allowed Democratic candidates to run as so-called moderates. Sure, they support abortions, trillion-dollar entitlement programs, open borders, and eliminating fundamental freedoms listed in the Constitution, but no one ever bothers to ask them about it.
As shown in Beto’s loss—along with Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016—this will be so no longer. The media has lost its power to hide people’s flaws, and an increasing number of Americans see through the hype, particularly younger voters. Trump stands to gain and win big. It’s telling that all the news media can do at this point is pathetically re-hatch baseless allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The continuous puff-pieces on Democratic politicians are apparently not enough.
True, Trump could benefit from a little more reserve and wisdom, but if he fakes this in the effort to win over voters, he will lose. Trump’s best qualities are his humor, his honesty, and even his pettiness (as most recently seen in the John Bolton firing squabble). These things make him human, relatable, and authentic—unlike Barack Obama, who still lingers in admirers’ minds as some kind of demigod despite his mediocre legacy.
For most Americans in 2019, it’s better to be oneself than someone who’s right all the time. Let the Trump show continue.