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?
Scott Smith brings a history of financial work on Wall Street and experience running his own businesses to the presidential race. He has built an impressive number of companies from the ground up in a diverse range of industries, including agriculture, education, and technology, as well as his field of expertise, finance. He was extremely active in business during the 1990's, when he developed a model of conduit financing for real estate mortgages that was later adopted by many large corporations. Following this, he started a firm that worked with the Redevelopment Program of Nelson Mandela, helping to house around 11,000 families around Soweto. He also founded Kidz Magazine in 1995, a publication relying on user-generated content and which eventually saw consumption in 30 countries. Smith also enjoys art as a hobby, and is given to painting galaxies in his spare time.
With his finance and business background, Scott Smith's proposals focus almost exclusively on the economy, and many of his ideas are far-right to the point of dubiousness. He commits to completely eliminating income taxes, submitting that the economic position of income is miniscule in comparison to that of financial settlements, which he wishes to tax instead. By switching to this model, he optimistically proposes that it would be possible to balance the budget without reducing spending, while a private citizen earning $50,000 annually would pay only about $50 in tax.
Another of Smith's ambitious plans is to pay off the entire national debt within 5 years. He proposes to accomplish this through “coupon stripping”, or settling outstanding debt by issuing new money to cover the balances. While this would flood the economy with additional currency, Smith insists the results would not be inflationary, because the new money generates no interest while interest-bearing securities such as treasury bonds damage and devalue the dollar.
Smith's promises are extremely attractive, especially to people of a fiscally conservative bent. However, his nigh-outlandish economic claims risk inspiring incredulity in voters, which could cause people to simply not believe him despite his knowledge and experience on the subject. Ultimately, whether his proposals are rooted in solid economics or subscribe to the pie-in-the-sky level of dreaming of which many will undoubtedly accuse them, Scott Smith will sink or swim based on their perception, not their reality.