On Friday, Megan McCardle at the Bloomberg View argued that Donald Trump is the new Ron Paul.
She made the case that both figures represent seemingly fresh alternatives to conventional insiders like Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush. McCardle foreshadowed Trump’s ultimate failure, because she thought that like Paul, Trump wouldn’t be able to expand his appeal beyond a small base.
McCardle’s right that Donald Trump is bound to failure. But that’s the only bulls-eye she was even close on.
Let’s go through them.
Recent polling of Trump supporters suggests his cadre is overwhelmingly old, white, and male. That might be okay for a Republican primary, but that’s not going to win you a general election, let alone keep your party nationally viable for another 10 years.
Unlike Trump, Ron Paul’s campaign made massive gains among Millennials, winning nearly half the under-30 vote in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2012.
Trump’s past leaves us guessing what he really believes about anything. His speeches are full of vague, technocratic appeals to competency, as if we only need better bureaucrats running an inherently flawed system.
Ron Paul had a platform and a record of principled dedication to freedom. It’s no surprise that younger voters appreciated his consistency.
Trump thrives on exploiting tribalism to pit people against each other– whether he’s saying ridiculous things about Latinos, women, or Vietnam POWs.
Paul saw people as individuals and brought them together in a common struggle for liberty. At the same time, he realized how government policies can disproportionately impact our most vulnerable. That’s why he got rave applause talking about our criminal justice system and war on drugs at a PBS debate focused on people of color. And why he polled strongest of the other candidates among independents and Millennials, the two groups Mitt Romney needed to beat Obama.