Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Have Seen This Movie Before

The candidate was a complete political outsider who had become a household name with weekly television appearances.

He ran for office with a populist message that railed against the establishment at every turn.

He was media savvy and knew how to grab attention with great soundbites that the media loved.

He proved to be good on the political stump by knowing how to dismantle an opponent psychologically and play to the crowd.

He was not a slick politician and he was considered a "straight talker" by the voters. As a result, you heard him described as "refreshing" and "real" as he did not hew to the political correctness of the day.

He talked about restoring the "American Dream".

He made a big point in the campaign that he did not accept PAC money and would not be owned by the "special interests".

He was heavily outspent by the establishment candidates but used the internet and his celebrity status to gain attention and publicity to offset that disadvantage.

It was claimed that he brought a lot of people to the polls that typically did not vote.

One of his chief rivals was the son of one of the country's biggest political names.

Another of his rivals was a young, articulate up and coming politician.

He was able to split the vote in a 3-way race and win without a majority of the voters supporting him.

Does that plot sound familiar?

It describes how former pro wrestler, Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1998 as the Reform Party candidate. He defeated Hubert (Skip) Humphrey III (D) and Norm Coleman (R) with 37% of the vote.

Jesse ("The Body") Ventura "Thumbs Up"

Isn't it almost eerie considering what we are seeing with Donald "The Donald" Trump? Their nicknames are even similar! As well as both liking to use the "thumbs up" sign.

Donald ("The Donald") Trump "Thumbs Up"

So how did that other movie end?

Ventura started off strong as Governor and got high marks for his bipartisanship and many of the appointments to his cabinet. His approval rating reached 70%.

However, he quickly had problems in dealing with the political and legislative process that is required to get things done in government.

He had a hard time adjusting to the responsibilities and requirements of the job.

"He flew around the country too much. There were too many appearances on late-night talk shows, too many cameo roles in soap operas, too much promotion of his books, often while Minnesota's legislature was still at work", according to an article in The Economist in 2002.

The Economist also noted that "he often behaved more like the wrestler he had been than the leader of the state he was now supposed to be."

He inherited a $4 billion state surplus when he took office. By 2002, the state was looking at a $4.5 billion deficit.

Ventura had no solid body of supporters in the legislature. As his poll ratings fell, the legislature increasingly shut him out of the political process. Bills languished in the legislature and little got done. If it did, it was at the 11th hour. One legislator noted, "We've got two parties and a celebrity".

Ventura's favorability eventually fell to 40% early in 2002. Later that year, Ventura announced he would not run for re-election saying that his heart was no longer in the job.

Why is all of this relevant?

You can readily see how similar the script of the Ventura movie is to what we are seeing with the Trump movie.

Like a lot of Americans, there is a lot I like about Donald Trump.

I like the straight talk. I like his willingness to take on the sacred cows. I like his commitment to put America first.

However, we are only seeing the First Act. And it is an "act".

I like the First Act but I have seen the Second and Third Acts of this movie before. That is why I am trying to warn GOP voters of what is to come.

--SPOILER ALERT--Crucial elements of the Trump movie are about to be revealed.

If Trump gets past his GOP rivals he still has to survive the general election. That is the Second Act. And it will be a barn burner because the Democrats are going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Trump. Romney was a veritable choir boy and look what they did to him. You can only imagine what material the Dems will have to work on with Trump. You can be assured that Trump will fight back but we are talking about a cage match worthy of Ventura in his prime.

If Trump is elected, the Third Act is still to follow. There is no reason to believe that the Trump movie will end any differently than Ventura's did. You have similar personalities, similar egos and no real political or governmental experience. (In fact, Ventura actually had been Mayor of Brooklyn Park, MN for four years before being elected Governor.) I can easily see Trump getting off to a fast start but quickly becoming frustrated, distracted and bored as he is unable to get anything done.

The result- a one-term President who may not even seek re-election. After all, why run if you can't win?

The bad news for the GOP is that, unlike Ventura who ran as a third party candidate for the Reform Party, Trump will represent the Republican brand. Minnesotans turned to Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, to fix the state.

As I said, I have seen this movie before.

I don't like how it ends.

Do not say you were not warned.

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