Do we want a hero or a leader?

Published 12:01 am Friday, August 14, 2015

What America wants for its next president is a fighter, a person who can go toe-to-toe with big government and win.

We want a man or woman who can stand up for the little guy. After all, we are all little guys — underdogs yearning to prevail when all of the odds are stacked against us.

We want that Rocky Balboa moment with our arms held high in victory as the music blares in the background.

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We crave that moment when the opponent, who, by all accounts, is bigger, stronger and flashier is vanquished. Such moments make those thrilling iconic sports movies, like “Rocky,” popular. They leave us empowered and ready to confront all of the wrongs we endure in our lives with bravado and self-assurance.

It’s entertainment after all.

So too were the first debates between the Republican candidates for President of the United States. A record 24 million viewers watched the debates on Fox News, making it the highest rated primary debate in television history.

If it hadn’t been for Donald Trump the television audience would not have been as large. I doubt few of the other candidates are as entertaining as the New York billionaire.

One pundit wrote during his live online commentary of the debate that Trump has hypnotized the nation.

New York Times analysts wrote that they were watching two different shows, the Trump show and everybody else.

What makes Trump so captivating and why do so many Americans gravitate to the loudmouth mogul?

My guess is Trump has tapped into a certain part of America that yearns for a hero with Muhammad Ali levels of self-confidence. They are looking for a hero who has little patience for politics as usual and want somebody who refuses to put up with it anymore.

Early in the primary process, Trump commands the attention of a sizable audience. Whether he can sustain voters’ interest is questionable now that he is being pressed for details of his vision on various issues.

His first steps into explaining his political views have been inconsistent and foggy.

At first Trump’s solution to America’s Mexican immigration woes was to send all of the immigrants back and to build a wall. Since his first comments on the issue, Trump has wavered a bit from his statements.

Did Trump mean that a wall should be built along the entire border between Mexico and the United States? Well, not exactly.

When questioned about the issue at the border surrounded by local official who oppose building a wall, Trump backed off saying that only certain sections would require a wall.

Similarly, Trumps views on immigration get fuzzy when the candidate talks about an amnesty program that would re-import many of the immigrants — those he calls dreamers —in the country with legal status after they were deported.

When discussing Planned Parenthood, Trump originally said that is should be defunded, then said that the good parts of Planned Parenthood should receive support and then finally released a statement saying that he opposed any funding for Planned Parenthood as long as they provided abortions.

As the campaign continues, Trump will have many opportunities to give specifics on many other issues. Voters will then begin to shape an opinion of Trump as a leader.

The question remains whether voters care about specifics. They may be looking for a hero instead of a leader.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by email at