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?
Terry Wayne Wheelock was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but he has lived in a number of states spanning both coasts. He attended Houston Baptist University from 1978 to 1979, the University of Illinois from 1979 to 1981, and the University of Oklahoma from 1981 to 1983. It was from the latter institution that Wheelock received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Administration, with a minor in Recreation. During and after college, he was a competitive gymnast, and has since worked as a gymnastics coach. He served in the US Air Force for four years, from 1987 to 1991.
Wheelock is running as an Independent candidate, and his platform borrows from both conservative and liberal ideas. He champions fiscal responsibility, promising that he will not raise taxes and that he will balance the federal budget. However, following a more leftist curve, he calls for Universal Health Care for all and says that he will get the nation on the road to healthy living. He also favors energy innovation as a national security issue, advocating for the use of solar, wind, nuclear, and other renewable power sources in order to end America's dependence on foreign oil supplies. He is opinionated on the issue of investigating space, believing that NASA has become a mere makework program and that it should return to its primary mission of exploring the universe. Among other goals, he hopes to make it possible for humans to live on other planets.
Wheelock contends that the sitting American president, Barack Obama, is ineligible for his office. While he does not assert the most typical claim of “birthers” - that Obama was born in the African nation of Kenya rather than the US state of Hawaii – he invokes the US Constitution's unelaborated requirement that the president be a “natural born citizen”, which he defines as any person having been born to two American citizens. This measure would indeed disqualify President Obama, whose father, Barack Obama Sr, did not retain American citizenship. Similarly, Wheelock challenges the legitimacy of Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Bobby Jindal.
Wheelock's platform is not strictly beholden to either left-wing or right-wing politics, creating opportunity for him to appeal to moderates on both sides of the spectrum. He is likely to have little success with the fringes, however, and his contention of Barack Obama's presidential ineligibility (with which the American public has largely tired) risks alienating still other voters. Still, he is nothing if not confident: He asserts that his election is “God's Will!”, and, perhaps more pragmatically, that he is “the Lesser of the Evils!”