If the polls are right, and they have been off occasionally this election season, in my home state of Massachusetts Donald Trump will overwhelm his chief opponents, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz by 47% to 15% each for Rubio and Cruz. If the numbers hold up that is a huge victory for Trump in what is a often termed the heart and soul of American liberalism in the United States. So how did this anticipated Trump victory in the Bay State come to pass?
The stock answer is that voters are angry and as Peter Finch in the movie Network said, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” But mad about what? Massachusetts has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, its economy at least in the eastern portion of the state is strong and vibrant. Crime is low, prices are low, opportunities abound, the governor is loved, and the politicians with a few exceptions benign. So why the Trump bandwagon to Make America Great Again, which means making Massachusetts great again as well?
I personally ascribe to the third grade vocabulary theory of Trumpism, called by some wiseguy pundit the Captain Underpants approach ( as in the wildly popular kids book series, Captain Underpants). Simply stated, Donald Trump talks to an uninformed electorate at a third grade level using short easy to understand phrases that sound exciting and make those who don’t yet realize the world is complicated and that answers to problems are not solved by third grade rhetoric nod their heads in agreement. No, the Mexicans are not going to pay for the wall, no the Chinese are not going to change their trading policies, no, ISIS will not be destroyed in a matter of weeks, and no, the economy will not grow by 10% in 2017 under Trump’s business model.
But give the blowhard credit, he knows how to work a crowd of Americans who are sick and tired of Washington gridlock, failed compromises and political posturing. When Trump promises to change Washington using his reality show approach ( you’re fired!) and developers’ mindset ( to hell with the rules, just build it!), and then talks to crowds knowing they have little understanding about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the legal system, democratic values and the American way of life, he becomes Captain Underpants, and it works.
So Massachusetts is really no different from the rest of the country. Sure Hillary will win the Democratic primary and Bernie Sanders will run a respectable second. But nearly 50% of the Republicans in the Bay State will fall prey to third grade political discourse and policy prescriptions that are hollow. All Hail Captain Underpants.