When Donald John Trump announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election at the Trump Tower to an audience of about a thousand supporters on a blustery New York morning on June 16, 2015, no one could’ve anticipated the impact that he would have on this election cycle. No one (aside from Ann Coulter) could’ve even envisioned Mr. Trump winning the GOP presidential nomination. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time – even Mr. Trump himself -, there was a leadership void within the Republican Party that was crying out to be filled.
The billionaire’s no-nonsense style, outsider status, business savvy and keen political instincts drew in the support of blocks of politically frustrated middle class conservatives, tea partiers and Ron Paul’s orphaned paleolibertarians, who were all looking for a champion to lead them and give their struggle a voice. In the following months, these disparate groups of voters organically coalesced into a powerful coalition which has propelled Mr. Trump’s candidacy from the fringes of the race to the summit of the Republican nomination leaderboard with surprising, albeit controversial, ease.
And to think, the teetotaler wasn’t even certain about running as late early 2015. There were real fears that similar to the general elections of 1988, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, Mr. Trump would not make a bid for the nomination despite giving indications that he might.
His giddying ascension in the polls has been met with incredulous wonder by the media and more established candidates who have long fallen to the wayside. His combative performances in the debates left his opponents tongue-tied, much to the delight of his supporters. His controversial off-the-cuff deliveries and political incorrectness are viewed proudly by his legion of followers. His war cry, Make America Great Again, has galvanized even the elderly to attend his lively rallies.
Mr. Trump’s in-your-face style has drawn a lot of flak from all corners, but only a fool would doubt that there is a method behind his apparent madness. As the former reality TV star has demonstrated repeatedly throughout his career, his audacity is always accompanied by a ferocious intelligence.
There is simply no denying that Mr. Trump has changed the face of American politics forever. And the prospect of a businessman being elected to the White House has rekindled century-old memories of the Roaring Twenties when entrepreneurs such as Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover occupied the Oval Office.
Mr. Trump’s nationalist populist brand of politics captured the imagination of the nation, and powered his victory in the Republican primaries. However, will the charismatic real estate tycoon be able to use an identical approach in his White House run, or will he pivot to the center and reign in his explosive personality? Will he be able to unite the party’s fractured base and win over the agitated social conservatives? Will Miley Cyrus move out of the country if Mr. Trump is elected?
Management consultant and semi-retired professional engineer
Currently a resident of Batesville, Arkansas where he lives with his wife and mother of their three children, Ken Cross comes from humble beginnings, including a childhood that included picking potatoes alongside migrant workers. Though he nurses a lifelong love of politics and claims to have studied that subject since his earliest days, he has also filled his time as an assistant scoutmaster to a troop of boy scouts, as a construction worker and as a UAW foundry worker. His professional training is in engineering, though he now considers himself semi-retired from that field and currently works as a management consultant. Having once worked as a corporate executive, he has owned three different small businesses.
Cross gives an air of fiscal conservatism in many key areas, including his support for a balance budget and harsh criticism of deficit spending, as well as his calls for a simplified tax code (including a “flat tax” that harkens back to the ideals of his party's founder, Ross Perot), however he parts with the conservative base in other economic matters. Ken Cross is a strong proponent of social security and carefully avoids policy that might endanger that program. He believes in exploring potential alternative energy sources that many of those on the right might consider cost prohibitive. As such, he also supports environmental protection measures.
Cross is conditionally pro-life, with a belief in reluctantly permitting abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger. He criticizes the “nation-building” policies of the United States demonstrated in recent wars, and believes military action should be used only sparingly and overwhelmingly for homeland defense.
The primary contention of Ken Cross' campaign for president is that both major political parties cater almost exclusively to their own most extreme factions, leaving a majority of Americans disenfranchised. He believes that the interests of the United States are best served by strengthening the middle class, and remarks that this is most readily accomplished by electing a middle class president such as himself. A blend of fiscal and social conservatism meeting traditionally leftist energy with environmental concerns, and a staunch support for certain entitlement programs, his philosophies are comfortably unextreme and include elements that appeal to wider range of voters. However, that same mishmash of erstwhile separated ideologies put him at risk of being insufficiently orthodox to any one political base, potentially limiting his appeal when the time comes to cast ballots.