Written by- Ronak Pol
Published on 31st July 2016
Note: this is no means an endorsement for Donald Trump or his Campaign but an attempt to explain his popularity with the American voters.
The race for the US presidential nomination ended with Hillary Clinton being nominated to lead the Democrats and Donald Trump leading the Republicans.
At the beginning of this race few thought that Trumps enlisting was a serious concern and even fewer thought that he would make it this far. But now having gained major endorsements and winning the party ticket from the Republicans, the questions remains of – What does Donald Trump and his supporters represent?.
For those not following the presidential race Trump might come off as a racist bigot who is trying to bring white supremacy to America, which is not a complete misrepresentation. Over the past he has made outlandish statements about minorities in America and also severely hurt female sentiments. Still we see female voters endorsing his election campaign and ordinary Americans lining up to support his rallies.
There is no question of his popularity within the party and he has proven to be a serious contender for the presidential race, which he might also end up winning coming November.
Why do people vote for TRUMP?
To understand the question of why people support Trump one has to look beyond the popular idea of him and all his supporters being racist bigots and look at more fundamental values that he represents which has helped him connect with American voters.
Beyond the controversial remarks on minorities and Refugees, that have made him famous within the popular media, are speeches that focus on challenging the current norm – questioning trade deals that have taken away American jobs, questioning the influence of big corporations in politics and taking a firm stance on terrorism and law & order within the country and also promising tax deductions while reducing American Debt
Trump brings an outsiders view to this political fight. He is able to challenge Hillary Clinton for all the wrong doing of the American government since the time Bill Clinton was in office. This resonates with people who are frustrated with the way the present administration functions and has helped Trump fill his voter bank.
Listening to Trump’s speeches one can understand why he might connect with the American Blue Collar Worker.
Trump has a reputation for “saying as it is” , famous for not using the teleprompter for his speeches and dismissing the idea of being politically correct. In his own words “The time for being politically correct is gone and it is the time for action”.
This quality/reputation of his has made him popular with those who are tired of a diplomatic approach that politicians that represent them take. Voters believe Trump to be a candidate who would not compromise in an international high stakes discussion and not be politically correct while representing his nation but will speak his and Americas mind every single time.
This might seem ludicrous to some individuals, but this bold leadership is what Trump supporters find appealing.
This in no way means that the claims he makes are correct or have any research backing to justify them, but he has been able to generate an image around him that voters can cling on to.
Trump highly criticizes the concept of Free Trade Agreement like NAFTA. According to him these Free Trade Agreements have cost America 1/3rd of its manufacturing jobs that were lost to cheaper manufacturing destinations like China, South Korea and Mexico.
The concept of comparative advantage taking away domestic jobs is something Trump despises. He says that an attitude like this has cost America its manufacturing might. Trump claims that American companies have helped build China at the cost of their own country.
He aims to change this by levying huge sanctions on companies that choose to move their manufacturing unit to Mexico or China and other such countries. He claims that by doing this he can improve the economic condition of America and lower domestic unemployment.
These statements resonate greatly with individuals who have lost their jobs due to closing of factories and also with the American youth that is struggling to find job opportunities after college. Analysis of states where he is popular shows that these are the places that have suffered the most at the hands of globalisation and Trump promises to change it with Americanization.
Immigration and Refugees
Xenophobia regarding refugees and immigrants is not a new phenomenon. Recently we saw Britain embrace it by voting for a Brexit, which Trump highly applauded and largely supported. It is the similar Xenophobia the we saw in UK which is fueling the fire for America. In America illegal immigration from Mexico is a serious concern according to Trump and he proposed building a huge wall around the border as a solution to this problem. He says that illegal immigration is the reason for higher unemployment, reduced wages and increased crime rates. He promises reduced unemployment and better jobs for all once he becomes the president by controlling illegal immigration.
The stance taken on Refugees from Middle East countries is also note worthy for Trump. He says he will not let in even a single Refugee without a thorough background check. He criticises Hillary for supporting increased immigration and accuses her of importing terrorists. He is playing with the human nature of self-preservation and using increased global terrorist attacks to make his case and gain votes.
This Xenophobia and lack of public knowledge about the Economics of Immigration has brought in more supporters into his campaign; these individuals have been misled to believe that everyone coming in as a refugee is a potential terrorist.
Big Corporations and American Politics
Trump’s family has more wealth and resources to fund their campaign than any other candidate and he is using this fact to his benefit. He says that because he is not accepting huge sums of donations from corporations he is not bound to take care of any special interests once he takes over the Oval office.
Questioning the involvement of Wall Street in politics is not a new idea. Bernie Sanders’s crowd funded campaign was his way to fight against it and even Hillary has come to acknowledge it overtime. But she lacks the funds to run an independent campaign without external donations – something that Trump can do. So he is using all his might in every speech to make sure that this point is heard and is taken note of.
The question of will he not pander to any special interest groups once he takes the office is definitely questionable but as of today he holds a superior position in this debate.
Crusader for law and order
Trump calls himself as someone who will bring law and order back to the White House. He is using a recent spike in crime rates in major cities including the capital to extend this point for America as a whole. He targets Hillary Clinton by highlighting the fact that she did not face an official trial after her Email scandal and questions if there was any corruption or power play involved.
Using his tough image to garner votes from individuals who are frustrated with radical Islamic terrorism, he maintains a stand that he will make it his prime motive to defeat ISIS and defeat home-grown terrorism. He also promises to being in checks on the judicial system, making it transparent and just.
What I have highlighted are just some of the points through which Trump is trying connect with his voters – points that Democrats have been unable to tap into. Even with all the bad press Trump has been able to influence the American voters to believe in him and see him as their next president.
We can say that Trump voters are not just racist bigots like the popular media would like to portray them but some are also simple middle class Americans who are frustrated with growing taxes, are concerned about increasing terrorism, feel that illegal immigration is hurting their wages and want a leader who will not be diplomatic with them but will tell them the facts for what they are. This is not the first time that we find voters looking for someone who is willing to address these points and it so happens that in USA Trump is filling these shoes.