There are conventional explanations for Trump's current popularity among some Republican voters. These include his image as somebody who's not afraid to be politically incorrect, not beholden to lobbyists and special interests. As well as his rhetoric on immigration.
However, there may be a neglected reason: envy. I daresay there are probably lots of voters who secretly (or openly) envy his lifestyle. It wouldn't surprise me if many Trumpkins are regular viewers of The Apprentice.
I think it's probably safe to say that most middle-class or working-class wage-earners belong to that income bracket by necessity rather than choice. For them, that's a hard ceiling. That's as high as they can go. They lack the advantages to become rich, much less superrich.
Since that's the situation they are stuck in, because there's no realistic alternative, some of them may make a virtue of their situation. But given half a chance, many of them would jump at the opportunity to have his lifestyle.
There are people who are conventionally moral for the simple reason that certain kinds of vice are out of their league. They will never be in the rarefied position to indulge those particular vices. But if they could have it all, they'd go for it.
And I'm not just talking about the secular culture. Why do some middle-class and working-class wage-earners dig into their pockets to float the lifestyle of Benny Hinn, Steven Furtick, or Joel and Victoria Osteen? My guess is voyeurism. If you can't be rich, you can still indulge a vicarious fantasy. That's what makes tabloid journalism sell. For a certain audience, there's an insatiable appetite for that sort of thing.
Isn't that the appeal to The Apprentice? If you win, you enjoy an instant, quantum socioeconomic promotion? And isn't that why people watch it? The vicarious appeal?
Out of curiosity, I've seen a few minutes of a few episodes. As I understand the show, there are two competing teams. However, there can only be one winner, one apprentice. It's not the team that wins. By process of elimination, it comes down to one victor. That means contestants aren't simply competing with the rival team, but competing with their fellow teammates. That's a recipe for backstabbing and betrayal. The more so when you're dealing with a group of ruthless and avaricious contestants.
From the little I've seen, episodes end with obsequious contestants appearing before Trump. He asks them to handicap the performance, not only of the opposing team, but their fellow teammates. The audience then gets to watch the contestants claw each other to pieces.
That says a lot about Trump's character. He enjoys wielding that kind of power over others. He enjoys watching ambitious contestants tear each other apart. He enjoys contestants groveling in his presence.
And that despite the fact that they don't really respect him. They fawn over him because he's their ticket to shot at quick riches. What does it tell you about him that he gets satisfaction out of bootlicking supplicants? Surely he must be aware of the fact that their awestruck admiration is feigned. Like royal courtiers, they flatter him because he has something they want.
But more to the point, what does that tell you about regular viewers? Doesn't that mean they are projecting themselves into his position?
On a related note is Ann Coulter, who's currently stumping for the Donald. She'd always coveted the diva role. She reminds me of Arianna Huffington. Back when Arianna was married to a rich Republican, she palmed herself off as a conservative commentator, but like Coulter, she's a glamourpuss, not an ideologue.
In many cases, Trump's appeal is to voters who are as venal as he is.