Sorry Iowa, Trump is For Real

Posted: December 16, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog
Donald Trump at the Iowa State Fair.

Donald Trump points to the camera at the Iowa State Fair back in August. Photo by Sarah LeBlanc.

The last time I saw Donald Trump was when he pointed at me in a crowd at the Iowa State Fair in August. He then turned around and pointed up at his helicopter, which was giving children rides over the grounds. If that sounds weird and a bit creepy, it’s because it was.

Things were not any less weird when I attended Iowa’s largest town-hall meeting to see Trump speak on Friday. Let’s start with the playlist. Someone really likes Adele and Elton John’s hit “Rocketman,” because those were played several times each. Adele’s “Skyfall,” specifically, was ironic when it was played to introduce his first speaker: a woman named Tana Goetz from West Des Moines who was the runner up on season three of “The Apprentice.” When The Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the Devil” came over the loudspeakers, I was at a loss for words. I mean, this is just begging for some deeper analysis. Is there a devil in this scenario? Is Trump going to save us from the inevitable falling of the skies? After not-so-veiled threats of steamrolling and stomping on the throats of competitors from his introductory speakers, 45 minutes after he was originally scheduled, and without any answers to these burning questions, Trump walked out to “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by The Twisted Sisters, which may have been more appropriate if the audience was singing at Trump rather than with him. The playlist was either carefully crafted with irony intended, made from Trump’s favorite songs or just completely overlooked in terms of the possible messages the songs could convey.

Trump’s speech appeared to be an eclectic, unorganized collection of talking points he hadn’t really thought through. He hit on ethanol (like the true Iowa politician he says he isn’t) in a broken, awkward statement that ended in stressing the country’s need to stay away from OPEC while never affirming that he actually knows what ethanol and OPEC are. He mentioned the need to save social security and medicare while lowering taxes on the middle class and business and managed to avoid mentioning how these plans would be possible without raising the national debt (which, according to Trump, is between 19 and 21 trillion. Spoiler alert: He’s wrong). Continuing with the theme of questionable statements, one of Trump’s loudest applauses came with a standing ovation following his declaration that we need to stop saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas (sorry, Starbucks), despite the fact that he’s not necessarily a regular at church.

We can’t really blame him for these inaccuracies, though, because he’s just getting this information from random people on his campaign. Several times throughout the night, Trump referenced facts and ideas that people have apparently told him, prefacing them with “this woman” and “a man.” Following these statements, he would clarify with “but who am I to say.” Who is Trump to say? He was the leading Republican candidate in Iowa for several months until just recently, which should mean he’s an authority on political issues. He’s a billionaire businessman, which should mean he has some semblance of economic knowledge. As of October, he was the leading Republican candidate in three key swing states, which should mean a good amount of people were considering him to be a logical choice for president of the United States. If Trump doesn’t think he’s the person to go to for questions on policy and government programs, then what does he think the president of the United States does?

I’ve been pretty critical of Trump, but I no longer view him as the “reality-star candidate.” He actually has some impressive campaign groundwork going in Iowa, and he seems pretty determined to win. Sure, Cruz passed him in the polls (but that’s OK, he loves Cruz, it’s the Des Moines Register he hates), but it’s becoming clear that Trump really isn’t messing around with his campaign. People support him because he’s an outsider, he has bold ideas and quite honestly, they don’t see what harm could come of electing him president of the United States (a simple Google search will help with that). Not to squash any dreams, but if he’s elected, he won’t be an outsider anymore, and those bold, outrageous and unrehearsed ideas of his will almost definitely be curtailed by a team of speech writers. If he wants to be a serious candidate, however, he’s going to need to tell his admiring public how he plans to get Mexico to build that beautiful wall that will stop all alleged criminals and rapists from entering the U.S. without jeopardizing an already pretty fragile relationship.

If Trump really wants to win Iowa, and according to him, that’s the pathway to the White House, he needs to actually formulate some specific plans for how he’s going to Make America Great Again. Because apparently, the sky is falling all around us, and we’re not gonna take that anymore.

IMG_1215LeBlanc is a junior political science and journalism major from Madison, Wisconsin. She’s visited three countries in the last six months and enjoys copious amounts of Netflix, chocolate and bad puns. Follow her on Twitter.