Politics

The Trump Conundrum

He draws record crowds of supporters — but not inside the Beltway. A cardiologist and owner of a small business explains why.

As a cardiologist who owns a small medical practice in a high-end neighborhood in the nation’s capital, I am observing the Trump phenomenon as if I lived and worked in two different worlds. One is “inside the Beltway,” where Trump is still anathema to the Washington elite. The other very much resembles the areas in “flyover country,” where he continues to draw record crowds of supporters.

Inside the Beltway, I live in the world of the Washington political Establishment. Those are the politicians, lobbyists, political strategists, and journalists — many of whom are my very dear patients. This is also the world where I spend much of my time socializing, where most of my friends and acquaintances are also part of the Washington government-media-lobbying complex. This is a world where Trump’s unanticipated success — and the threat it poses to the Washington elite — is proof of the old saying that “denial” is not just a river in Egypt.

This is a world where Trump’s unanticipated success is proof of the old saying that “denial” is not just a river in Egypt.

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I keep asking myself: Why did these smart political professionals, with so much on the line, not see as I did months ago that Trump was succeeding because he was giving the electorate the unfiltered honesty and candor it desperately craves? While he was cruder and less polished than a professional politician, that only emphasizes the important point — he was not talking to the voters as if they were stupid.

The other world I occupy is physically in Washington but could be in a suburb of St. Louis or Indianapolis. It is the world I work in as a physician and as the owner of a small business. It is where I struggle with the realities — and outright deceptions — of Obamacare and the increasingly intrusive regulatory state.

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It is where I see my patients dealing with adverse economic and social conditions they know to be real — whether it is unemployment or rising crime or illegal immigration — even as the government-media complex tells them that the only problem is Obama’s “failure to communicate” how good a job he has really done creating jobs or policing the borders. (By the way, they “get” that this is a backhanded way of hearing the Democratic media establishment tell them they are just too stupid or bigoted to appreciate him.)

From this vantage point, the only question about Trump’s achievement is: Why did it take so long?

Since Trump’s victory in Indiana and the effective resignation of his last two rivals, everyone knows he will be the nominee. So what game are the Establishment Republicans like Paul Ryan playing now? Are they trying to exact a few concessions on issues that are matters of principle to them, ensuring that he is a “true conservative”?

From this vantage point, the only question about Trump’s achievement is: Why did it take so long?

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After going along with the nominations of Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, that is hard to believe. After each of those good men — but hardly die-hard movement conservatives — went down to electoral defeat, the rest of the Republican Establishment probably began to realize it really didn’t matter anymore if they kept losing on the issues of concern to their constituents, as long as they kept the emoluments of their own offices. As long as their losses on issues could be blamed on the other side, and not on their own failures of courage or leadership or principle, they were safe. As long as what mattered to them was only staying in office, and their constituents did not realize that the game inside the Beltway was rigged, they were safe. As long as, even if they lost an election, they would not have to return to their districts in defeat — but could quadruple their salaries by staying in town and joining a lobbying firm.

It seems clear to the country that even the Republican office holders don’t care about winning on the issues anymore. They had theirs, as long as they were still players. They might not ever win the Super Bowl and get the most lucrative endorsements, but they played every year.

As representatives of their constituents — but with almost never-ending tenure in office — they were like the lawyers in the contested divorce of a billionaire couple, billing by the hour. Whichever side prevailed, the lawyers won. However the proverbial pie was split between husband and wife, the lawyers would not leave the table without dessert.

Why exactly is Trump a threat? And is it worse for them if he wins or loses?

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As I talk with my well-heeled Establishment friends and acquaintances — and listen with the perspective of someone who lives both in their world and in flyover country — several thoughts come to mind.

The Establishment is corrupt? Yes, but that’s not really it.

The Establishment is ineffective? Yes, but that’s not really it, either.

The Establishment looks like they’ve given up — because the public has seen the political equivalent of a Superman beat 16 Clark Kents. As he prepares to do battle with his own Lex Luthor, hoping there is no kryptonite hidden in Hillary’s lead vault, they see that he possesses and is about to get the last part of what they’ve spent their lives (and honor) trying to achieve.

Trump has the money, the fame, the trophy wives, his name on buildings and airplanes, and — with mere months as a “politician” — looks like he is also going to get the political power that even billionaire businessmen typically cannot wield, or wield only behind the scenes as donors.

I think it is really personal humiliation they are dealing with. If he can do this, why couldn’t I? He makes it look so easy. Why is so difficult for us?

Dr. Ramin Oskoui, a cardiologist in the Washington, D.C., area, is CEO of Foxhall Cardiology PC.

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