Alan Chartock | I Publius: New Yorkers like brash characters — like Trump


GREAT BARRINGTON >> Donald Trump is a New Yorker and an awful lot of New Yorkers like him because, like a good New Yorker, "he speaks his mind."

He says what he thinks; no matter, apparently, what he thinks. Did you know that Vladimir Putin is a good guy? Trump hates political correctness which makes this very rich man appear middle class — perhaps more Queens or Brooklyn or Staten Island or the Bronx than Manhattan.

The Trump brand is well known to New Yorkers who often worship success. His name is on buildings all over the city. He saved Central Park's Wollman Rink, which now bears his name, and did so for a lot less money than the city originally envisioned paying out.

New Yorkers are sick to death of paying more for government bureaucracy with its cost overruns and inflated pricing. They held their breaths as the enterprising entertainer with the big hair saved their rink, as well as the Central Park carousel, which anybody born and bred in New York rode as a kid.

I'm 74 and I remember riding those horses as if it were yesterday. Now our grandchildren ride those horses. For relatively little money the billionaire showed his acumen for getting things done. No wonder he's a big favorite of New Yorkers and so many others.

It doesn't stop there. He grabs every prejudice and rides it like one of those carousel horses. He wants Muslims kept out of the country and the city. He understands that people are afraid and, like the tyrants of yesteryear, he harnesses those fears and appeals to all who are afraid.

He equates all Muslims with the killers and rapists and terrorists who create the chaos that we read of in our papers every day. And, speaking of the papers, he intuitively finds journalists unpopular with the masses and scapegoats them with a vengeance.

He points out a cameraman at a rally and has the crowd booing him as if he were a terrorist. He plays the press as if they were his personal toys. He knows that his brand sells papers and has the people tuning in.

The Sunday morning talk shows are so desperate to get the charismatic Trump on the air that they give him privileges that no one else gets. He gets to come on by phone, something that no one else, including the president of the United States, seems to rate.

Why? We all know why. The guy draws viewers and while the producers of these shows may hate themselves in the morning after they capitulate to his demands, they know that if the other stations get him and they don't, well, they won't have a job come Monday morning as they are clobbered in the ratings and the advertisers take a walk.

Make no mistake about it — I still believe Hillary Clinton will take New York, but Trump is breathing down her neck and, if things go right for him, he could surge ahead.

Look, New Yorkers have elected a lot of charismatic Republicans in the past. Names like Rockefeller and Lindsay and LaGuardia dot the pages of history. If Trump were running for mayor and not president he'd be odds on favorite, even in liberal New York where PC is king.

And speaking of Hillary, lots of pictures of a smiling Trump with a smiling Slick Willy and a smiling Hillary are appearing all over the media but as Alfonse D'Amato once said, "That was then and this is now."

Trump has no compunction about attacking anyone who gets in his way, a style not unlike that of a '30s dictator. He has already turned on Hillary, and folks, you ain't seen nothing yet.

You may think Trump has no shot in New York but if it weren't for Hillary, he'd have a great chance of taking the state. He is, after all, a quintessential New Yorker.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.


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