Donald Trump’s rhetoric this week, specifically as related to the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead, shows that, in politics, literally anything goes.
The opportunity for a stagnant or sinking politician to latch on to a tragedy could be compared to a hitchhiker walking along a mostly desolate highway. The capacity to handle approaching obstacles dwindles as time goes on, whether it be fatigue, thirst or mind-numbing boredom. In politics, you can switch the last two out for a never-ending search for various funds and a constant need to replace the almost worthless band-aids that fail to cover the worsening wounds of society.
As a second-generation businessman that’s amassed billions of dollars, Donald Trump is the definition of an opportunist. So, it’s no surprise that he’d use those same practices in his career as an aspiring politician. And while it would be completely unfair to paint Trump as the sole practitioner of this method – it’s a basic play in the game – we can’t ignore the potential risk that comes with him, specifically.
One of the clearest examples of political opportunism that comes to mind is George W. Bush. Following the tragedy of 9/11, a president with an already dipping approval rating saw an incredible spike in popularity as a country came together and looked to him for answers. For some, he was the night light that would help us sleep at night and keep the boogeyman away. Of course, his approval would later drop even lower than it’s initial dip before his term was said and done. But many argue that he only received a second term due to his response to the act of terrorism that shaped an era of the American zeitgeist.
Following the tragic shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Trump jumped back on any airwave he possibly could and did more of the same. He criticized Democrats for a lack of action, called for even stricter immigration practices and threw out the suggestion that had more people been able to walk around with guns, Omar Mateen wouldn’t have been able to take 49 lives that night. [Because we all know liquor, big crowds in dark rooms and guns mix well, right?]
While one American tragedy ushered Bush into a second term, there’s a chance that the latest could sway the minds of the moderate and republican-leaning democratic voters across the country. The events of this past Saturday night are of a level that leave an impact on people. It could be enough to shake someone to their core, force an internal battle of ideologies and come out surprised at how differently they come out.
People that were mostly liberal, save for their opinions on gun control and immigration, may start to take him more seriously following his latest speeches where he doubles down on his theories to “make America great again.” The reason Trump’s made it this far is that many who at one time saw him as a joke slowly turned the corner into viewing him as a realistic option.
When Donald Trump first announced his interest in running for president, he appeared to just be the latest in a list of celebrities that seemed completely unfit and would leave the race as quickly as they came. A year later, he has a better shot than the vast majority of people that have run, having made it to becoming the Republican party’s presumable nominee.
The last thing anyone needs is for Donald Trump to pull even more people to his side while they’re vulnerable and looking for answers and end up in the White House.
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