It's almost as if he's running his campaign as a send-up of the other hopefuls, beholden to lobbyists and the mainstream media. The only one with name recognition is Jeb Bush, and that, only because his brother was president (disastrously) eight years ago. Think of Trump as The Joker in the film "The Dark Knight" (2008): "I'm not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are."
He electrifies audiences, much as fascist scalawags Hitler or Mussolini did when Germans and Italians felt hopeless in the face of economic disaster. But where Nazism is defined as "a form of socialism featuring racism and expansionism", Trump is no Nazi. It is precisely because he is not a Nazi (and hence easy game for the mainstream) that the US imperial elite are so incensed by him and his sudden, immense popularity. He is neither a socialist nor an expansionist. In as much as he has a coherent philosophy, it is libertarian and isolationist. He wants good relations with Russia, and cooperation on fighting al-Qaeda's latest incarnation. "Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid of ISIS. Maybe let Russia do it. Let them get rid of ISIS. What the hell do we care?"
Alternative to the Bush-Obama project
Though having voted against the Iraq invasion in 2003--a brave move--Obama frittered away his one public rejection of militarism, and methodically carried out Bush's agenda in Afghanistan. Both Afghanistan and Iraq are failed states, now Obama's legacy as much as Bush's, complete with a rag-tag caliphate in place in a large chunk of Iraq and Syria. Obama is actually promoting ISIS as a result of, yes, more imperial overreach.
The failure of the Bush-Obama neocon agenda starkly shows that US imperialism is no longer a viable New World Order option, that the only policy that makes sense is Trump's isolationism combined with good relations with Russia. The war in Syria began, as did the western invasion of Libya, when Obama and Hollande said "Assad must go," a blatant violation of both longstanding western respect for the nation state and Islamic jurisprudence. "Trump and Putin could return the concept of sovereignty to its privileged position. This would end many wars," writes Israel Shamir. A neo-detente to oppose neo-imperialism.
Trump appeals to both bigots and thinkers
What impresses all Americans about Trump is his lack of ties to the banking/ industrial/ Israel lobbyists. True, he loudly praises Israel and Netanyahu, but at the same time states politely that Israel must make compromises if it wants peace, putting him on the radar of Zionists, and preventing any breakthrough in the mainstream media. Unlike the Bushes, Trump has no use for Saudi Arabia. He has no fondness for bankers ("killers") after his four bankruptcies. Trump argues his experience declaring bankruptcy is good preparation for what he may need to do in the White House.
This combined with a populist agenda emphasizing job creation--"Many of the great jobs that the people of our country want are long gone, shipped to other countries. We now are part time, sad! I WILL FIX!"--is a winning combination. But there are problems. His Mexican wall and ban on Muslims are clearly over the top, and are condemned by all but the bigots among his followers. But as one supporter told the New Yorker, "There are so many other things going on in this country that we've got to be concerned about. I've seen a lot of our friends lose their houses."
Both proposals are unconstitutional and unworkable, more campaign rhetoric than substance. Trump's promise to deport children born in America to illegal immigrant mothers is prohibited by the Constitution. Every undocumented immigrant would be entitled to a hearing and an appeal. Trump's advisers should have told him that the Mexican wall is unnecessary in an era of total surveillance, and besides, there is a net out-migration of Mexicans now. The American Dream has soured, in case he hadn't noticed.
As for Muslims, a ban on immigrants according to religion violates the first amendment. Trump's emotional call came after the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, in which 14 people were killed by ISIS types. Hillary Clinton said that Trump's rhetoric was the "best recruiter" for the Islamic State militant group. On Face the Nation, Trump told Clinton she is the pot calling the kettle black. "Clinton caused tremendous death with incompetent decisions" in the Middle East. "All this has led to ISIS."
Blacks generally resent Mexican immigrants for taking jobs which otherwise would go to blacks, and many admire Trump for his honesty. Only Latino Americans are staunchly anti-Trump. Trump's gaffes have cost him millions, lost him many wavering supporters, not to mention his honorary doctorate from Robert Gordon University in Scotland. They could lose him the nomination, but he soldiers on fearlessly. He has admitted mistakes before. He could do it again.
He has an intriguing policy on taxes, claiming he wants to soak the rich, including himself. He proposed a 14% tax on the net worth of wealthy Americans. (It would increase his personal tax bill by $725 million.) He argues his one-time tax package would raise $5.7 trillion to erase the nation's debt and save $200 billion in annual interest payments, saving Social Security and allowing a tax cut for the middle class.