Politicians are usually risk averse, but Donald Trump is gambling that something like what happened in Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve will happen in the United States. Worse has happened in San Bernardino, but Trump only announced his anti-Muslim policy after that occurrence. He’s betting it will happen again, and he’s probably right.
What Trump does is announce the policies that sound ridiculous to pundits but are the exact kind of solution talk average people engage in. Too many illegals from Mexico? Build a wall. Terrorism in the US? Ban all Muslims. Forget for a minute if these things are good policy or feasible. You have to admit that to most people they sound like solutions, perhaps even of the very kind they themselves have thought of.
To some extent, Bernie Sanders does the same thing. All of his cerebral supporters would surely tell you, very polysyllabically, that what he proposes are sound policies. But is it really feasible to break up all of the big banks and make college free in the current political environment? No, of course not. But these are the very things that liberals talk about when they get together and complain about things.
When people are frustrated or scared, they don’t want to hear about implementation and compromise. They want action. They even want rash action. This is how we got talked into Bush’s war in Iraq.
You can mock racists for suddenly caring about women’s rights or rape culture when it involves muslims, but accusations of that kind are double edged because it shows that people who claim to care about women’s rights have their own exceptions, asterisks, and rules. It’s these rules that are political and decided by elites in their dialogues about “intersectionality” that determines whose oppression is most important, and this is too complicated for most people to understand or care about. We understand when people aren’t given a fair shake; we don’t like that. But when we compensate for that and then are told it doesn’t always apply, that seems less like fairness or justice and more like a complicated framework meant to screw anyone not at the top of the oppression ladder.
Given these dynamics, every time something like San Bernardino or Paris or Cologne happens, Trump can say I told you so and his solutions will sound like many people’s own dinner table or water cooler conversations.
I think it will happen, I think that will bolster Trump. I don’t think any kind of 2008-like collapse is likely on Obama’s watch so I don’t think the left will be as thirsty for a cowboy as the Republicans are.