Port: The mystery of Donald Trump's appeal as seen from North Dakota

MINOT -- I've figured out Donald Trump's secret. He's political comfort food.That's what I learned observing Trump address a crowd of North Dakotans at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck.Plenty of ink has been spilled trying to ...

Rob Port

MINOT - I’ve figured out Donald Trump’s secret. He’s political comfort food.
That’s what I learned observing Trump address a crowd of North Dakotans at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck.
Plenty of ink has been spilled trying to explain the Trump phenomena. Not much of it from me because Trump is a national phenomena, and my beat is North Dakota.
But now that Trump has come to North Dakota, now that I’ve observed him in environs I’m familiar with, I feel like I have a better insight as to why people are willing to look past the absurdities and the bombast and the insults.
Maybe it has something to do with this statement, uttered by Trump at a press conference held before his speech at the Bismarck Event Center: “The federal government is in the way. We’ve got to get the federal government out of the way.”
That struck me as a powerful statement - as powerful but perhaps more substantive than his “make America great again” line - which cuts to the core of what Trump represents as a political idea.
Americans are just tired of making a federal issue out of everything, from pipelines to school lunches to school bathrooms. They’re tired of federal meddling. They’re tired of the red tape hindering prosperity.
Trump, maybe, is the scissors. That’s the thinking, anyway.
Don’t mistake me; Trump is no paragon of conservative idealism. In fact, during that presser Trump called out conservatives for talking tough about property rights and then supporting pipelines which are almost always built through the use of eminent domain authority.
“Without eminent domain a pipeline doesn’t move 10 feet,” he told the reporters in response to questions about the much-delayed and very controversial Keystone XL project.
Trump has ripped George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq. Trump gives the supply side economists who have been central to conservative economic thinking for generations now the hives when he talks about trade and economic policy.
But I don’t think Trump supporters want ideological purity. They obviously don’t care about good taste and civility either.
I think they just want someone who is going to be on their side. And not in the way Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton would be on their side, which means launching some new government program.
I think Trump supporters also want some stability, as odd as that sounds.
For the last eight years America has been embroiled by the politics of chaos. From the budget to the passage of Obamacare, brinksmanship and ceaseless turmoil have become the norm.
Trump, even standing at the center of the three ring circus that is his campaign, perhaps looks like a calming influence. Some oil on troubled waters.
A blunt, no guff strong man who is going to role into the White House and start calling shots.
I’m not saying this is an accurate way to perceive Trump, but I think this is what his supporters perceive, and it may be enough to put the man in the White House.
Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator.

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