Look, I really dislike Donald Trump. The viscerally negative reaction he inspires in me is pretty close to hatred. And as far as I am concerned, about the only thing that’s worse than Trump are his supporters. Trump’s presence in the race has caused me to write articles I never thought I would, and in general think less of the political process as a whole.
That being said, it is the time of year where we try to rise above our pettiness and our negative feelings and cultivate a sense of thankfulness for our blessings and peace with our fellow man. With that in mind, here are five genuine and legitimately non-sarcastic reasons I am thankful for Donald Trump’s presence in the race.
1. He has gotten priceless media exposure for other Republican candidates.
Here is one thing literally no one can deny about Trump: he’s great for television ratings. When the American public hears that Donald Trump is going to be on television, unscripted, for 2-3 hours, they tune in.
The Democrats right now are actively trying to get low ratings for their debates in their ongoing attempt to hide Hillary Clinton from the public as long as possible, and as a result a total of around 22 million people have watched both Democrat debates. Meanwhile, every GOP debate held thus far has broken a record of some sort, with a combined total of over 100 million viewers so far.
That’s a lot of people who have had the chance to hear Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 94% and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 100% speak, just because Trump has been on stage, and for that I am thankful.
2. He has completely ruled the moderates out of the equation
This campaign season was supposed to be a replay of 2012, with Jeb Bush playing the part of Mitt Romney. We were supposed to have round 2 of the battle royale between the “establishment” and the base. And before Trump entered the race, Jeb was basically in the same seat as Romney was (although he was admittedly facing stronger competition than Romney ever did).
However, Trump’s rampaging entrance into the race has completely destroyed the Bush campaign’s viability, sending him into a polling free fall and causing his deep pocketed donors to openly question his viability and (in some cases) outright defect to Rubio or other comers.
The speed and ruthless efficiency with which Trump dispatched Bush has also caused the establishment to rethink their “Plan B,” John Kasich. Never for a moment has he threatened to gain even the slightest bit of momentum. Instead, the panicked establishment and donor class is at this moment trying to decide whether Rubio or Cruz makes a better anti-Trump stalking horse.
Regardless of your preference between Rubio or Cruz, either would be an infinitely better choice than Jeb Bush or John Kasich. Even though Trump is not a conservative, he has without question shifted the window for acceptable candidates in the GOP field to the right, and for that I am thankful.
3. He has nullified the reverse Overton Window the media always tries to impose on the GOP
The media has a favorite game they like to play with Republicans in debates – ask questions that are designed to place a wedge between Republican candidates and either their base or the general election voters. 99% of these questions have nothing to do with how a person would perform the job of being President, such as “do you believe in evolution” or the like. They serve no purpose other than to help the media achieve their ultimate goal, which is to help Democrats win.
Trump, on the other hand, says so many flabbergasting things every time he opens his mouth that the media has been too busy perpetually hollering like a stuck pig over the latest outrageous thing that Trump has said that they have had no success at all attempting to paint anyone else in the GOP field (with the possible exception of Carson) as an “extremist.”
The end result of this is that whoever emerges with the nomination (assuming it isn’t Trump himself) won’t have been put on record with virtually any attack material that the Democrats can use in terms of what they have said during the debates, and for that I am thankful.
4. He has helpfully exposed ratings-driven charlatans in the conservative movement
The conservative movement has always relied on alternative media channels like talk radio, FoxNews, and certain syndicated columnists for intellectual and informational nourishment. Many of these people are deserving of respect and honor for the work they have done over the years in helping to shape the concerns of every day people into a political movement.
However, a weakness that this movement has always had is a certain element of hero worship for the purveyors of this alternate media. We had forgotten, for the most part, to treat them with the same level of cynicism and skepticism that we display for the legacy media and government institutions. We had forgotten that, above all else, conservatives in the entertainment industry are capitalists – they like money, and the shortest route to money is higher ratings.
Thus, when Trump burst on the scene and suddenly rocketed to the front of the pack on the strength of his celebrity, conservatives looked around for the talk radio hosts and columnists who had justly castigated Trump as a fake conservative for years to set the ship right again. Instead, to their horror, they found many of these talk radio hosts and columnists cynically playing to the Trump boomlet for the sake of ratings.
Trump has provided a helpful reminder that staying true to your principles is difficult when money is on the line, and for that I am thankful.
5. He made that CNBC debate an hour shorter
Covering these debates with the huge number of candidates on stage this year has been an exhausting proposition. By far the worst to cover was the CNBC debate, which was a widely-panned media debacle that has ensured that the network will never host another GOP debate again.
By all accounts, the debate could have been even worse: there could have been a whole extra hour of it. According to nearly universal media reports, the network bowed to pressure from Trump (and Carson) and cut the question time shorter by an hour, thus sparing us from another hour of such piercing questions as, “Are you a cartoon book villain?” And for that I am thankful.