by Joe Shea
October 15, 2015
THE THRILL OF THE DONALD
BRADENTON, Fla., Oct. 16, 2015 -- I confess that I am still thrilled by the rise of Donald Trump.
Now that he has reached the stature of probable winner of both the nomination and the Oval Office, I find myself feeling a warm hope that America's ability to produce extraordinary men to meet the extraordinary challenges a great nation must face is still beating out from its golden heart.
Where did firebrands like Thomas Paine, Andrew Jackson, Bill Clinton and Abraham Lincoln come from, suddenly appearing, ready to lead and sustain us when our doubts were legion and our fears were deep?
For them, of course, the mantle of leadership didn't come so suddenly. They'd worked hard and heroically for dozens of years before the torch was passed; in truth, only a handful of people saw them coming. Today, though, the American people saw Trump coming long before the reporters, editors, TV news anchors and talking heads did.
While they were either condemning him or laughing at him, the American people were resonating with the idea that we have truly slipped as a nation and that we need some fundamental, bone-deep changes to rescue what men like George Washington and Abe Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan fought so hard to build.
It is almost as though Donald Trump was the real "Apprentice," studying at the feet of masters for three decades or more to master the language and style of leadership. It has been thrilling to watch him move away from the jeers and insults that seized the headlines to a more polished, professional style befitting the leader of a great nation. He is ready.
In fact, the truth is that we have embraced him - not my colleagues in journalism and the Democratic Party, of course, but the working men and women of America who come from far and wide to hear his vision - oh, I can hear my friends gasping as I write that "v" word - and to carry what is his essential and boundless optimism, pride and enthusiasm about America back to their homes and families. That lets me believe that we really can make America great again, and that Trump is the guy to do it.
How long have we sat back and let China rip off our jobs, our factories and our pride in what we make and do? How long have we let millions of undocumented people stream into our cities and fields and streets and hospitals and schools without stanching the flow?
How long have we sat back and watched the entire Middle East rise up against us, condemning us as the Great Satan when, in fact, even with all our mistakes we are as close to angelic as a nation has ever been? These days, it sometimes seems that even our President doesn't stand up for us, and neither do the nations we rescued from the wreckage of World War II.
Since the age of 12, when I wrote down the goals for my life - to be a reporter, an actor and President of the United States - I have watched campaigns, read books and digested thousands of newspaper articles to help me understand what a President must do to help America achieve its goals: to protect liberty, to empower and enrich the people, to promote racial, religious and gender hsrmony snd equality, to befriend the weak, and to inspire children to be vessels to carry the American spirit forward into the centuries.
I am not giving up my dream, but I know my chances are as slim as the proverbial snowball in Hell. Donald Trump's arrival on the political stage has thrilled me because he "came out of nowhere," as they say, if hundreds of highly-rated "Apprentice" episodes can be considered "nowhere" - but it was nowhere when you weigh that fame against his vast celebrity today. Nowhere is wherever I am.
When someone can advance from NBC's studios at Rockefeller Center to center stage in a presidential debate watched by 25 million people, it confirms that anyone so inspired can do anything they want - including me. It means that the American Dream is still alive and porous, that it can be achieved by anyone, and that there is also hope, by extension, for our place in the world.
That's why Donald Trump, at least an icon of that Dream, has thrilled me these past enlivened months. I have actually contributed $10 to him. When Hillary Clinton got really impassioned about standing up to the NRA in a speech a few weeks ago, I sent her $10, too, for the second time, and after the debate I sent her two contributions totalling $11 (I only had $27 in the bank).
In my case, it is almost miraculous that those small amounts can clear the bank, but they always have. Yet, if the amounts are meaningless, the gesture is not: I am voting for America's greatness, and I always will.
Joe Shea, who was a Republican until the Watergate scandal, has had several leadership roles in the Manatee County Democratic Executive Committee. Formerly New York City Area Manager for the New York State Assemly Minority, he was responsible for media communications of the 9-member Republican-Conservative New York City delegation to the State Assembly. He is Editor-in-Chief and founder of The American Reporter.