Sarah Palin fit the bill a little better, but Reagan was not much a better icon for right-wing populism than Trump. And all three have said ridiculous things. Why did people support them?
For one—and liberals will be loathe to admit this—Trump isn’t letting the soap opera rules of the media shame him. He’s shamelessly promoting his policies, policies that many people support. Don’t we all want the elections to be about policy? Well, Trump’s campaign’s #1 issue is illegal immigration and that does, in fact, have a constituency.
I much prefer this than wondering whether I want to have a beer with him or whether his can fill out a flannel the right way.
Make no mistake, I fundamentally disagree with his policies, but I can say that without having to tattle on him that he broke the press’s rules. Elizabeth Warren and now Bernie Sanders are popular with the left because they appear to say what their audience wants to hear even if it’s “out of bounds” somewhat and liberals cheer them.
I’m not saying “both sides do it” but I am warning people not to dismiss Trump and sneering at him only makes him more popular.
Whether or not he stays in the race, his supporters aren’t going anywhere.