Trump’s Rise Should Serve as a Surprise — To No One

Since June, the headlines surrounding Donald Trump’s candidacy for the presidency have all looked very similar, with the common sentiment being “Don’t take this guy seriously.” Most believed it to be a publicity stunt. Many said that by winter time he’d fade. After each successive crass statement from Trump’s mouth, pundits claimed that this was the beginning of the end. However, since June, Trump has kept rising. If you are at all interested in politics, you’re probably familiar with this narrative.

Frankly, Trump’s meteoric rise should’ve been at least theorized for one reason: he’s a reality star. Successful politicians and reality stars have more in common than you might think. They share three common traits: they’re entertaining, controversial, and smart.

A good politician can hold your attention for a substantial amount of time. They’re charismatic, eloquent, and are in tune to current events. Regardless of your opinion of President Obama, or any former President, when they speak, we listen. Similarly, a successful reality star can garner yuge ratings and a massive following: think shows like The Bachelor, Desperate Housewives, or any of the various Kardashian spinoffs. The stars say crazy things, because they’re overblown, exaggerated versions of normal people. Most reality shows aren’t exactly substantial television, but if you were to take a general poll of Americans’ guilty pleasure on television, you’d be safe in betting on a reality show.

Controversy is pretty self explanatory, but in short, both a good politician and reality star engender a response, whether good or bad. They make you feel something, and thus, they get you involved. They make you listen, they make you watch, and they make you vote, whether for or against them, which explains the high voter turnout on Super Tuesday.

Quite obviously, the majority of politicians are very smart. But, maybe a little less obviously, so are many reality stars. Granted, for a good amount of them that may not be true, but at the very least, it holds for the producers and studios behind them. Reality stars and their shows are indulgences for their viewers, and are so smart because of their previously stated entertainment value.

Coincidentally, Trump, who is arguably the king of the reality television show, is undeniably entertaining, controversial, and smart. He’s crass and funny, says horrifically offensive things that unfortunately resonate with a large portion of the American populace, and he’s incredibly smart, using his reality chops to manipulate the media at will. Trump is always in the spotlight. He single-handedly destroyed Jeb Bush’s hopes for the nomination, portraying him as weak and lethargic. He calls press conferences while others are garnering victories, skips debates, and attacks others on social media.

In this post-Super Tuesday world, it’s likely that Trump wins the Republican nomination. Many will probably wonder how all of this happened, and why Trump was able to turn the entire system on its head as such an unconventional, unpredictable candidate. The likely answer is that Trump, as a largely self-funded reality star, has had the perfect skill-set to become a successful politician this entire time.