The manufacturing executives had gathered in an Atlanta conference room last year to honor their senior United States senator, Johnny Isakson, for his tireless efforts on their behalf in Washington. But as the luncheon wound down, Mr. Isakson found himself facing a man from Coweta County. The man, Burl Finkelstein, said trade policies with Mexico and China were strangling the family-owned kitchen-parts company he helped manage, and imperiling the jobs it provided. Mr. Isakson politely brushed him off, Mr. Finkelstein recalled, as he had many times before.
So when the Georgia primary rolled around this month, Mr. Finkelstein, along with many others in his town, pulled the lever for Donald J. Trump, who made him feel that someone had finally started listening. “He gets it,” Mr. Finkelstein said in a recent interview. “We’ve sold ourselves out.”
As the Republican Party collapses on itself, conservative leaders struggling to explain Mr. Trump’s appeal have largely seized on his unique qualities as a candidate: his larger-than-life persona, his ability to dominate the airwaves, his tough-sounding if unrealistic policy proposals. Others ascribe Mr. Trump’s rise to the xenophobia and racism of Americans angry over their declining power.
But the story is also one of a party elite that abandoned d its most faithful voters, blue-collar white Americans, who faced economic pain and uncertainty over the past decade as the party’s donors, lawmakers and lobbyists prospered. From mobile home parks in Florida and factory towns in Michigan, to Virginia’s coal country, where as many as one in five adults live on Social Security disability payments, disenchanted Republican voters lost faith in the agenda of their party’s leaders.
In dozens of interviews, Republican lawmakers, donors, activists and others described — some with resignation, some with anger — a party that paved the way for a Trump-like figure to steal its base, as it lost touch with less affluent voters and misunderstood their growing anguish.
The NYT almost gets it! I mean they get close but they feel compelled to give a nod to the racist xenophobic Trump-hating crowd's explanation of Trump's rise. I mean how often do you see a candidate's success "explained" by their staunchest critics, their enemies? Asking Donald Trump haters why he is leading the Republican field? that's the NYT way. It's their attempt to play the honest broker card. Oh well.... TM
******* “We cannot continue to allow ourselves to be influenced and molded by the political class and by the media. That is going to destroy us," he said, remarking that it's "kind of sad" that the press is the only business protected by the Constitution "because they were supposed to be the allies of the people." Dr. Ben Carson