Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Political Science


Donald Trump, ideology, personality, populism, presidential candidates


How do we explain the Donald Trump phenomenon? When he announced his candidacy for president, no one believed that he had a realistic chance to enter the White House. He was viewed as a joke candidate running an ego-driven campaign to promote his brand and his reality television show. He stunned everyone by defeating 16 opponents for the Republican presidential nomination—most of whom were respected professional politicians. He did this despite increasing opposition and hysteria from the GOP establishment, DC-based conservative pundits, neoconservatives, the Bush family, Fox News, the mainstream media, Wall Street, and the Democratic Party. He became the first non-politician to be selected as a presidential nominee of a major party since General Eisenhower in 1952. Many people—locally, nationally, and internationally—are mystified, shocked, and fearful of what Trump represents. How could this have happened? Trump is a singular person but his nomination as a non-politician is not unprecedented and he embodies some important political values. He can be placed in historical and ideological context.


Paper presented at the Front Porch Republic Annual Conference, held at the University of Notre Dame, on October 8, 2016.

Text and charts created for this paper copyright © Jeffrey L. Taylor, 2016.