Americans Just Want Normal People in Charge
I think sometimes politicians, and the media who cover them, underestimate just how truly weird the average American considers all of them to be. It really doesn’t make much sense to be a politician: Their lives seem pretty miserable. You’re away from your loved ones all the time; you make far less money than you would in the private sector; you open up your personal life to constant scrutiny; you spend most of your free time on the phone begging people for money; everyone is always angry and yelling at you (and your family) all the time. What kind of crazy person would want that job? We all remember that kid from high school who was a little too into running for student council. No one wants to be the person. Few really understand them.
Which was one of the initial appeals, I’d argue, of Donald Trump. I covered an early Trump rally in Mobile, Alabama, back in August 2015, and I spent four hours talking to the long line of people waiting to get into the event, held at a college football stadium. This was still early on in the Trump candidacy, back when it seemed absurd that Southern conservatives would ever support a germaphobe billionaire from New York City, and I spent that time asking them why in the world they liked Trump. You know what they all said? They all said he was “a normal person.” “He doesn’t talk like Hillary Clinton, or Jeb Bush,” one woman told me. “He talks like the people I know.” That’s what people, deep down, want. They want a politician who doesn’t seem that dramatically different than the people they know in their lives. They want to relate to them.
It is still up in the air how much the Tuesday night primaries will change American politics. The House looks like it will flip to Republican hands, but the Senate might remain Democratically controlled, and on the whole, what many thought would be a Red Wave turned out to mostly be a stalemate — which is of course a huge boom to Democrats (and, really, anyone worried about democracy). But I’d argue the overarching takeaway was that voters don’t want lunatics. They, on the whole, did the logical thing: They voted for the person who seemed less crazy … more normal.