As a political commentator, I’m constantly trying to understand the Trump phenomenon. I still haven’t gotten my brain around how his personal appeal can overcome his obvious flaws and how so many voters have found him preferable to any of the other Republican candidates in the primaries so far. I haven’t come to grips with how members of the GOP faithful, from an informed voter in New Hampshire to an evangelical Christian voter in Alabama, could so enthusiastically support The Donald. And I’m even more stumped by the broad acceptance Trump has found among the bikers who came from all across the nation for their annual sojourn to Washington for the Rolling Thunder rally this past weekend.
I admit to having a somewhat romanticized view of Rolling Thunder riders. I think of them as salt-of-the-earth, sturdy people; the kind of people who take to the open road, who really live by the credo “don’t tread on me” and who, when they say “live free or die,” really mean it. They are not fools and they don’t suffer fools. They have classic American common sense and don’t think anything comes for free. They don’t take anything for granted, they are generally an independent lot, and they take pride and patriotism very seriously. So what is it about Trump that they find so appealing?
I get that for the most part, the bikers are anti-establishment. And, probably many of them have felt some economic strain after almost eight years of President Obama. Even so, why is it that so many of them see Trump as their vehicle to a better America? Trump is utterly inarticulate. How do the bikers, and others, find Trump credible when he makes simple assertions about rebuilding our military and making America great again? Why don’t his lies, contradictions, Manhattan-billionaire flamboyance, insecurities and over-the-top self-promotion turn these people off? Why is he viewed as a leader rather than as a joke? I ask these questions not to make a point but because I truly don’t know the answer. Are the bikers missing something, or am I missing something?
Once again, when it comes to Trump, I have more questions than answers. It is indisputable — yet still bewildering — how this weekend’s Rolling Thunder riders embraced Trump. I had never witnessed them welcome a political candidate that way before. It doesn’t make me think less of the bikers; I just don’t get it.