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I don’t know if Donald Trump is the solution to this country’s problems, or if he’ll even win his party’s nomination, but whether he is the solution or isn’t, wins the nomination or doesn’t, neither is my point, anyway. At this moment in time, Trump’s unexpected success is revealing something about the electorate, and trying to figure out what that is has been keeping political pundits busy. It has certainly helped that Trump entered the race with a high profile, and the media’s attention to him has only increased that attention exponentially. Still, the media only took real notice of Trump when his poll numbers surprised everyone. Personally, I suspect there’s more to his early lead than what can be attributed to press coverage, and furthermore, I think it says more about us than it does about him or the power of the press.

There is something about Trump or his policies that is evidently resonating with enough people to have them flocking to his appearances and leading the Republican field at 35%. His apparent popularity could be a symptom of something else percolating out there, and whether we like him or not, the fact that he’s gained any kind of traction at all is, I think, a good sign for dog fanciers (and it’s not just because Trump has been an ardent supporter of purebred dogs and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show).

When possible, Donald Trump has invited the Best in Show winner of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show to Trump Tower. I had a chance to be part of the social media team that went with "Malachy," the Pekingese who won in 2012.

When possible, Donald Trump has invited the Best in Show winner of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show to Trump Tower. I had a chance to be part of the social media team that went with “Malachy,” the Pekingese who won in 2012.

Stay with me on this.

Trump’s mantle as the “anti-political correctness candidate” is, I think, appealing to an awful lot of people, average folks who’ve grown weary of having to parse their speech for fear of antagonizing someone in the ever-expanding mine field of individuals easily offended, insulted, snubbed, slighted, marginalized, affronted or upset by how they’ve interpreted what someone said, rather than concentrate on what the speaker may have meant or actually said. Could it be that because someone in the political landscape is speaking his mind with all the subtlety of a ball peen hammer between the eyes, an electorate that wishes every politician would do the same is receptive to this “no holds barred” manner of campaigning? This isn’t to suggest that Trump hasn’t said outrageous things. Absolutely, he has. Trump has launched more than a few verbal stink bombs over the years, and they’ve angered most of the basic “food groups” of humanity. But guess what? He gets to do that in a country that cherishes free speech. Guess what else: It’s possible that plain speaking is what has lead to his high poll numbers.

Let’s put this in terms more relevant to dog fanciers. Putting aside the bad hair and “wide mouth frog disease” associated with Trump, wouldn’t it be lovely to have someone with the hutzpah and profile of a Donald Trump to speak up on behalf of purebred dog owners, breeders, and the sport itself, someone who would point out the hypocrisy of retail rescue, tell it like it is about “overpopulation, “and reveal the real agenda of animal rights groups?

Let’s be honest. “Presidential material” is not what most people probably thought of when Trump first entered the race, and most people don’t change their minds on a whim. They change their minds when they hear information they haven’t heard before. They change their minds when someone says out loud what they’ve been thinking to themselves for a while.

Please understand that I’m not endorsing or criticizing the substance of what Trump has been saying. What I am doing here is speculating out loud as to why Trump is doing as well as he is, at least so far. If blunt rhetoric is that reason, I think I “get it.”

How much would it change the national dialogue about responsible dog ownership if we had someone like Trump pulling back the curtain and exposing the staggering numbers of dogs being imported in the US to fill shelter demand, or blasting PETA for killing over 80% of pets it takes in, or exposing the fact that much of the charitable donations taken in by the Humane Society of the United States actually goes to lobbyists, not dogs, or even tackling an item on my own personal wish list: Finding proof that shelters and rescues have gotten into the breeding business to create “rescue dogs” for their empty cages.

I ‘get’ the appeal of someone who says, “to hell with political correctness.” Dog fanciers have been victimized by political correctness as much as anyone, if not more. These days, if you tell the wrong person that you bought your dog from a breeder, or worse, that you are a breeder, you’re lucky if all you get is a dirty look and cold shoulder. In a worst-case scenario, you could find animal control on your doorstep, have your dogs confiscated, be stalked on social media, or even be refused your own lost dog by a vigilante rescue group. Every one of the aforementioned, by the way, has happened to a law abiding, responsible breeder.

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As I see it, Trump has tapped into a national frustration by verbalizing what many voters have been feeling; if it’s electorate anger that is fueling Trump’s campaign because people who are supposed to stand up for the “every man,” don’t, I “get it.” Trump said in a fiery takedown of politicians, “They’re all talk, they’re no action.” Haven’t some of us felt that way when a club officer, legislator, animal control officer, or AKC rep dismissed our suggestions or grievances?

I don’t know if Trump will be good for us in the long run, but for now, candidates of both political parties have to acknowledge, if not address, issues he has brought up. Voters will be quick to recognize lip service versus reasonable solutions versus wishful thinking, and if Trump forces his opponents to respond in a way that matches his own undiluted opinions, I just don’t see a downside to it.

I have no idea how the nominations and elections will turn out. Like many of us at this stage of the game, I’m a causal observer who’s not yet invested in any of the candidates. If Trump’s campaign “craters” long before the election (as some believe it will), I think he’ll still have played an important role by having given voters a taste of what unfiltered (read: ballsy) rhetoric looks like. At times, “Trump unleashed” has made me wince, cringe and roll my eyes, but as someone who’s had her fill of the “holier than thou” attitude leveled by passive-aggressive, “adopt-don’t-shop” rescue zealots, I think I prefer the arrow I see coming at me rather than the ones embedded in my back by someone convinced of their superior sensitivity because they rescued their dog and I didn’t.

Would Trump be faring as well if he sanded down some of his hard edges? I don’t know, but it occurs to me that for the last 15-20 years, most responsible dog fanciers have stayed quiet, minded their own business, done what they thought was right for their dogs, and quietly stayed out of the fray by figuring that as long as they played nice, nothing bad could happen to them.

How has that worked out for us?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

JoAnne August 30, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Thank you!

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Susi August 30, 2015 at 8:50 pm

You’re welcome, JoAnne!!

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Mike Helms August 30, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Good points, Susi. Mr. Trump must have the career politicos worried. Perhaps his rhetoric is starting to wake up the voters. Having a breeder friendly president would not hurt my feelings at all. I just hope that if the election results in a Trump win, the voters see fit to send the same message to congress. I find myself debating the “rescue is better” argument all the time. I don’t know if I make my points or change some minds but I still hold true to my beliefs and faith in our breeders……again, thanks for the wise and insightful words

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Susi August 30, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Awww, Mike, thanks for reading the piece and sharing your thoughts with me. It will be fascinating to see how things play out……

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Kimberly August 31, 2015 at 10:12 am

Outstanding read!!! Love and completely agree with every single line!!!!!

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Susi August 31, 2015 at 10:21 am

Gosh, thanks, Kimberly, that’s much appreciated!!

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Stephanie Hedgepath August 31, 2015 at 10:34 am

You hit the nail on the head with this one, Susi! I totally agree that we have been schooled in the “politeness” of political “correctness” for way too long. Do you find that you gravitate to those who speak their minds on social media? I know I do. If I don’t agree with what someone says, it makes me examine my own thoughts on the subject as to why I don’t agree and helps me more clearly understand my own position on the matter. Too often, I tend to react emotionally to a post or statement but that helps no one. I know instead I need to formulate my own whys and wherefores so that others can understand my position more clearly. Your thoughtful comments always help me clarify my own thoughts, so please don’t ever stop what you are doing. Thanks!

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Susi August 31, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Thank you for that, Stephanie, it’s appreciated more than you can imagine. My heart goes into my throat when clicking on the “publish” button after writing something like this because I know not everyone will agree, and I’m no different than anyone else: I’d love to be universally loved. No danger of that happening anytime soon, so a note like yours is valued.

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Lynne August 31, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Terrific piece, Susi! I think his success is the result of people’s unhappiness with ALL politicians. The problem with voting out incumbents is that the opponent is no better, sometimes worse!

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Susi August 31, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Lynne, and boy do I hear you about trying to find the lesser of evils. It’s so disappointing to vote for someone thinking THEY will be better than who they’re replacing, and it’s as if once they get to the statehouse, something switches off and they’re no different after all.

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Laurie Savoie September 1, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Susi..I ‘get’ the jist…and agree about this PC fanaticism that makes 90 % of what folks say resemble cold oatmeal. And I get making the stretch to encouraging the dog fancy to speak out loud, prouy, but correctly, with the facts as you state. We have indeed been good puppies for far to long. We Need to put some bite in our rhetoric.

However, when was, as someone recently said,Since when is “Telling it like it is….” a a qualification for being President?. Any dumb clod can speak plainly, and many do…doesn’t mean he’s right. ,

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Susi September 1, 2015 at 7:42 pm

You find me a jaded voter, Laurie, and my knee jerk response is that it has been a VERY long time since someone I thought was truly qualified to hold the highest office actually held it. These days, money, good looks and name recognition seem to be enough. As a capitalist living in a lousy economy, if Trump can create jobs and rev up the economy, I’m not sure that isn’t a good start. After all, part of the job is knowing to surround yourself with really good advisors since few people know everything. That said, foreign relations could be “interesting” (that’s being kind) with someone like Trump in front of a microphone. I guess we’ll see, eh?

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Jane Bjork September 1, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Exactly.

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Susi September 1, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Thank you for reading the piece, Jane, and for sharing that you concur (whew!)

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Mariane Herndon September 2, 2015 at 7:01 am

Suzi, what you said: I’ll vote for that!

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Susi September 2, 2015 at 9:57 am

LOL, thanks, Mariane!!

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Lisa Hedstrom September 2, 2015 at 9:26 am

Interesting read and some valid points but remember, once upon a time all these “career politicians” were newly elected for the first time filled with fire and determination to “be different and change the world!” Politics is a beast, plain and simple, played by people who want power. This country is so polarized by the left and the right who each believe they have the right answers, the ONLY answers. Until they learn to work together for the common good and set aside their personal and political beliefs this country will remain in turmoil. It will take a strong President who can work between both sides and unite us to bring about meaningful change. Donald Trump and his antagonistic, bullying, manner is not the answer.

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Susi September 2, 2015 at 9:57 am

Thanks for reading the piece and commenting on it, Lisa – but first, a clarification. I never suggested that Donald Trump is the answer. I was hoping that through the writing of the piece, I’d come to understand why he’s gotten traction at all, and his shoot-from-the-hip style might explain some of the appeal for some voters.For others, I guess they like what they’re hearing. The older I get, however, the less inclined I am to think that both sides see the common good as being the same thing. I’ve come to suspect that whoever is President, one part of the electorate will be unhappy about it.

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Lisa Hedstrom September 2, 2015 at 11:09 am

Agree with you, Susi. I’m as frustrated as the next person with the lack of “get it done” and career politicians, but we the voters have no one to blame but ourselves and it starts on a much lower scale than the Presidential election. It’s the people “we” keep electing back in to office as our Senators and Legislatures that ultimately call the shots. Where is our outrage for THEM? The state I live in – when you go to the Capital and the legislature is in session, all you see is old, white-haired men who have been elected over and over again. Once in a while you see a fresh new face, but if they dare to be different or try to question the system they are shot down immediately. Frustrates me to no end. Thanks for listening and again, thanks for the good article.

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Joan Allen September 2, 2015 at 10:41 am

What Trump represents is citizen rage. It is also what fuels the candidacies of the Libertarians, the Tea Party, and Bernie Sanders. If people could get together and see beyond extraneous issues and recognize their shared interests, maybe our government and Congress could actually get better.

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Susi September 2, 2015 at 10:55 am

I sure can’t disagree with you, Joan. ‘Think it’ll ever happen?

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