Why? Because he’s exposing the built-in systemic corruption that plagues our government to an unprecedentedly large audience, whether he means to or not. I don’t care if he’s doing it on purpose or if it’s just a lucky accident of his unique position as a political outsider; I’m just glad to see the system of institutionalized bribery that we call “lobbying” being called out for what it is.
For example, at a large rally in Alabama last week, he opened with his usual rhetoric (“We’re going to build a wall!” and all that), drawing cheers from the crowd but then something interesting happened. Trump said, “So many people have come up, lobbyists. I said I don’t want money from lobbyists.” This statement drew same eruption of cheers. He went on to describe his dealings with lobbyists, declaring, “I don’t want your money, because in two years when you come to see me about something, I’m not doing it unless it’s good and unless it’s going to make America great again.” The crowd was ecstatic.
Trump went on to outline a hypothetical situation that he argued would plague a Jeb Bush Presidency. In the situation, Bush tries to strike down a proposal that he feels is not in the country’s best interests. “The next day, or the next hour, he’s going to get a call from the lobbyists, and the special interests, and his donors, and they’re going to say, ‘Hey Jeb, we gave you $8M of your $120M that you raised. We gave you $8M! We want that thing done; you can’t do that to our people!’ ‘Oh, okay, I’ll approve it.’ It’s going to get done, okay?” The crowd responded to the notion with loud booing.
To me, that’s fantastic. Not only do I think Trump’s fictional scenario is realistic; I would argue that it has plagued every administration in this government for the last 50 years. When was the last time you saw a major Republican (or Democrat, for that matter) presidential candidate with heavy media coverage decry the corruption that is the American lobbying system? It’s very rare that a candidate can achieve such visibility without becoming literally indebted to the approval of special interests, so it’s a conversation we never really get to have. Even if they wanted to, our representatives can’t address it for fear of losing the financial support that put them in office in the first place.
Again, I don’t think Trump would make a good president and I don’t think he stands a chance in the general elections. At the same time, even if I find the rest of his platform reprehensible (his foreign policy is especially concerning to me), I’m thrilled that he’s initiating a dialogue about the real systemic corruption that negatively affects our government. And what’s even better, his Republican supporters, who have historically taken the special interests’ side on the issue, are responding to this message positively. In a climate where both the Democrat and Republican frontrunners are financially beholden to corporate mega-donors and their interests, having a candidate who is not indebted, is unbelievably refreshing.
Hopefully, we’ll see this trend continue. Bernie Sanders, who lacks Trump’s high-profile visibility, is saying similar things with a Democrat platform and he’s making some waves, too. Regardless of the details, I’m more than happy to see the political establishment, lobbyists and candidates alike, squirm a little in the seats they’ve felt comfortable in for so long.