Donald Trump says it’s not all about him. No, seriously.

Campaigning in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump on Saturday paid homage to his supporters — claiming they are a part of “a movement” and using colorful language to beg for their support.

“This is a movement,” said Trump, who often speaks about himself in campaign appearances. “I don’t want it to be about me. This is about common sense. It’s about doing the right thing.”…

Mixed in with Trump’s talk of a “silent majority” was a call for “law and order.”

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Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says he is leading the GOP race because he represents Americans who have had it with their nation coming up short.
 
“People in this country are smart,” he told listeners at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies’ 2015 conference in Nashville on Saturday.
 
“We’re tired of being the patsies for everyone,” Trump said…

“They go to Washington and they get weak,” Trump said of Democrats and Republicans alike. “They get there and they see these beautiful, vaulted ceilings and they say, ‘Honey, I’ve made it.’ That won’t happen to me, I promise.”

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Trump is rewriting the playbook in which politicians who offend respond by equivocating, clarifying or apologizing. Instead, he goes on offense and takes his message directly to the heart of his critics’ support. The polls and the ratings don’t lie: Voters and viewers love it.

“It’s an excellent strategy,” said prominent New Hampshire Republican strategist Dave Carney, former adviser to George H.W. Bush and Rick Perry, among others. “What’s not excellent is the morons with the 202 and the 212 intheir area code who think this stuff hurts him,” he said, referring to Washington, D.C., and Manhattan…

At this point, Carney said, those that have been fuming at Trump ought to have realized that their outrage has little bearing on Republican primary voters. “If the Washington elite wants to hurt Donald Trump, they should endorse him.”

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Donald Trump has outdone himself — he’s managed to bring one ancient person back to political life.

Beada Corum, 92, recently registered to vote for the first time so she could vote for Trump,. On Saturday, Aug. 29, she got to meet The Donald in person…

Corum became a fan of Trump’s this year. “We got a good country but it’s going downhill so fast and we need somebody in there who can straighten it out … He’s got a strong mind and he speaks it out just the way he thinks it ought to be,” she told WVLT in Knoxville, Tennessee in July.

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In the last Iowa Poll, in May, Trump had the highest unfavorable rating of all the Republicans, back when he was tied for ninth place with 4 percent. Trump has almost completely reversed his rating. Then, 27 percent had positive feelings about him and 63 percent negative. Now, it’s 61 percent positive, 35 percent negative.

“People asked if he could right the ship of his upside-down favorable scores. The answer is: Yes, hell yes,” said J. Ann Selzer, the pollster for the Register/Bloomberg Iowa Poll.

Poll respondents might not know many specifics about Trump’s positions, but they don’t really care. The majority of likely Republican caucusgoers say they’re willing to put trust in their top candidate to figure out the issues once in office (57 percent)…

Like Democrats in 2007 who looked for their savior in Barack Obama, Republicans in 2015 seem to be looking for their savior in Trump.

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First Donald Trump antagonized the Republican establishment with his proposals on immigration. Then he irritated some with his stands on trade and Social Security. Now Trump is preparing a tax proposal that will again set him far apart from the party’s powers-that-be.

The problem for the establishment is that Trump’s positions on all three issues are more in line with the majority of American voters than the establishment’s preferred policies. By using his popularity to force outside-the-GOP-box ideas into the Republican presidential debate, Trump is displaying an uncanny sense of the divisions between voters and the GOP power structure…

Raising taxes on anyone, even the super rich, has generally been anathema to Republicans for a generation. But Trump will probably find a receptive ear among American voters overall. An academic study by Stanford professor David Broockman and Berkeley Ph.D candidate Douglas Ahler — a study that also had revealing findings about immigration — suggests that Trump’s views on taxes are closer to the public’s than those of Republican elites.

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In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, GOP front runner Donald Trump is firing back at the Club for Growth.

“They’re a pack of thieves,” Trump told Breitbart News as he was leaving Nashville’s Rocketown facility. He had just finished delivering a high-energy speech to an overflow crowd of more than 1,000 people.

Trump was attending the annual convention of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, which describes itself as “the grassroots Republican wing of the Republican Party.”…

Earlier in the week, the Club for Growth attacked Trump for his proposal to penalize Ford Motor Company for putting a car manufacturing plant in Mexico rather than Tennessee.

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So Trump’s campaign has left stage 1, which was: The campaign is ridiculous entertainment by the Redneck Mussolini, but soon the clown will disappear and the real candidates will take center stage.  

Now we have stage 2: Trump is going to be around for a while, and we should think about his appeal seriously and sympathetically. Stage 2 is better, because it replaces contempt with thought. And those who feigned contempt (like virtually every Republican public intellectual) were, from the beginning, really scared. That’s why they were and sometimes continue to be rather hysterical…

The members of our oligarchic ruling class don’t offer a real solution to the problem of the rapidly eroding “social capital” of the lower half of our middle class; they’re not about to step up, really, to help those who, at this point, don’t have the wherewithal to live dignified relational lives. Arthur Brooks can sleep well at night because he believes that capitalism is the best system for the poor. There’s a lot of truth there, but it’s not the whole truth. And Trump is at least somewhat right that opening the borders to upgrade the lives of all the workers of the world has to be at the expense of the American citizens who work. From this view, Trump is the candidate of loyal, struggling members of the sinking American middle class who feel betrayed by what some call the emerging realities of the 21st-century global competitive marketplace. 

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Trump is in the early stages of deploying a powerful and popular protectionist platform. He does not use the word “protectionism,” preferring to call it free trade managed by people who know how to negotiate deals. But his voice takes a vengeful tone when he describes his trade policy. He has promised to enlist some of the toughest negotiators in New York to lay down the law. (“I know people who are so nasty, so mean, so horrible,” he says, “nobody in Iowa would want to have dinner with them.”) About the parent company of Nabisco, which is closing a plant in Chicago and moving production to Mexico, he says, “I’m never eating Oreos again—ever!” It sounds like an implicit threat to mobilize voters around boycotts and other forms of economic pressure, a tactic that has been limited in recent years to progressives’ agitating on gay marriage and other social issues…

Two factors produced Trump. First, the governing style of Barack Obama, which, by insulating presidential action from constitutional checks and balances, drove up the value of “deal-making.” Second, the corruption of the Republican party. If the Republican Senate permits the president to pass off his Iran nuclear weapons treaty as a “deal,” abdicating its prerogative to ratify or block, then a better “deal”-maker is all it can offer the country the next time around. 

Candidates Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have fallen into this misunderstanding, treating Trump as a “fake conservative,” as if he were running for chairman of the Republican party. So have George Will and virtually everyone who writes for National Review. “Trump,” writes Daniel Foster, “is sucking the most talented GOP presidential field in a generation down the gaping event horizon that is his huge mouth.” This is dubious. The GOP may have talent, but it has squandered the trust that might win it the country’s permission to do anything with it. For almost two decades Republican leaders have been asking a country with which they have lost touch to be content with words. Since the Tea Party rebellion of 2010, they’ve succeeded, with empty promises, in getting their own dissidents to lay down their arms. For now, there appears to be little that any member of the party establishment can say to hale voters back.

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So far he’s running against the Republican establishment in a more profound way than the Tea Party, challenging not just deviations from official conservative principle but the entire post-Reagan conservative matrix. He can wax right wing on immigration one moment and promise to tax hedge fund managers the next. He’ll attack political correctness and then pledge to protect entitlements. He can sound like Pat Buchanan on trade and Bernie Sanders on health care. He regularly attacks the entire Iraq misadventure, in its Bush-era and Obama-era manifestations alike, in a way that neither mainstream Republicans nor Hillary Clinton can plausibly manage.

And he’s coming at all these issues, crucially, from a vantage point of privilege — which his critics keep highlighting as though it discredits him, when in reality it lends his populism a deeper credibility. He’s the Acela Corridor billionaire (albeit tackier than most) who promises to reveal what the elites are really up to, the crony capitalist who can tell you just how corrupt D.C. really is, the financier who’ll tell you that high finance can afford higher taxes. It’s precisely because he isn’t a blue collar outsider that he may seem like a credible change agent: Because he knows Wall Street, and because he doesn’t need its money to campaign, it seems like he could actually fight his fellow elites and win.

He won’t, of course, but it matters a great deal how he loses. In a healthy two-party system, the G.O.P. would treat Trump’s strange success as evidence that the party’s basic orientation may need to change substantially, so that it looks less like a tool of moneyed interests and more like a vehicle for middle American discontent.

In an unhealthy system, the kind I suspect we inhabit, the Republicans will find a way to crush Trump without adapting to his message. In which case the pressure the Donald has tapped will continue to build — and when it bursts, the G.O.P. as we know it may go with it.

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The critical question, however, is not the source of Trump’s popularity but rather the reason his popularity is so shocking to our political culture. Perhaps Trump’s candidacy threatens a larger consensus that governs our political and social life, and perhaps his popularity signifies a profound challenge to elite opinion…

What Trump offers is permission to conceive of an American interest as a national interest separate from the “international community” and permission to wish to see that interest triumph. What makes him popular on immigration is not how extreme his policies are, but the emphasis he puts on the interests of Americans rather than everyone else. His slogan is “Make America Great Again,” and he is not ashamed of the fact that this means making it better than other places, perhaps even at their expense. 

His least practical suggestion—making Mexico pay for the border wall—is precisely the most significant: It shows that a President Trump would be willing to take something from someone else in order to give it to the American people. Whether he could achieve this is of secondary importance; the fact that he is willing to say it is everything. Nothing is more terrifying to the business and donor class—as well as the media and the entire elite—than Trump’s embrace of a tangible American nationalism. The fact that Trump should by all rights be a member of this class and is in fact a traitor to it makes him all the more attractive to his supporters and all the more baffling to pundits…

We no longer know what political seriousness is—or we are afraid to pursue it, for fear of offending. We have reached a stage of decadence where we fear everything except frivolity. This is precisely the precondition for Trump’s popularity, and his unapologetic mockery of more conventional forms of political theater makes him in some ways the most serious candidate in the race.

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After all, isn’t Donald Trump’s political appeal a kind of cartoon version of Richard Nixon’s? Nixon was the most consequential Republican in America for a long time, arguably from the Hiss-Chambers hearings in 1948 until his resignation from the presidency more than a quarter-century later; a candidate who ran five times for national office, four times a winner and losing only once, possibly as a result of stolen votes in Illinois and Texas; a politician who invented the Silent Majority and laid the basis for the emergence of a governing Republican majority; a president whose achievements pale beside those of our beau ideal, Ronald Reagan. But no Nixon, no Gipper.

Now, in 2015, we seem to be replaying history in fast forward. What took 16 years, from 1964 to 1980, is now happening in a matter of 16 months. The Tea Party was in a way a replay of the Goldwater movement—a visceral, deeply felt, and in many ways justified rebellion against the pretensions and depredations of big government liberalism. Both rebellions fell short of attaining the presidency. Both were followed by a less constitutionalist but perhaps more wide-ranging revolt against the cultured despisers of American patriotism and traditions—the first of which produced the Nixon ascendancy over several tumultuous years, the second of which has fueled the Trump phenomenon over several rambunctious months.

The Nixon era was followed, after a short interlude, by Reagan. The task today is to ensure that the Trumpian moment is followed—with no interlude, and with time telescoped—by a neo-Reaganite victory, one that builds on what is best in the Tea Party and what is healthy in Trumpism to create a politically viable governing conservatism.

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I’ll go further: Not only will Trump not be the nominee; his supporters won’t even determine who the eventual nominee is. Take away the celebrity-besotted, the non-voters, and the single-issue opponents of immigration, and you’re left with a group of conservatives who deeply dislike what they see as a spineless Republican establishment. These voters never determine the nominee, because too many of them waste their passion on hopeless candidates, such as Ben Carson, Michele Bachmann . . . Donald Trump.

In theory, Trump could hurt the eventual nominee even if he loses the primary, either by making a third-party run or by influencing the nominee to take unpopular positions. But a third-party run would happen only after Trump lost the primaries. Leaving aside legal and logistical issues, the successive losses would diminish him — both because they would inevitably diminish anyone and because Trump in particular makes so much noise about being a huge winner. He’d have to run instead as a sore loser, and spend a lot of money to register in the single digits on Election Day…

So the risk Trump represents to the Republican Party, or conservatism, is really quite small. I understand why he gets some conservative commentators’ blood boiling. A lot of the resulting columns have been enjoyable. But some anti-Trump conservatives seem to think it’s a matter of great urgency for all decent and serious people on the right to denounce him or “stop him.” It’s not. This too shall pass.

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