What’s behind Donald Trump’s popularity and will it last?
It’s hard to go more than a day without hearing reference to the GOP frontrunner these days. Donald Trump is everywhere, in Canada he is mostly treated as a joke but as an American who will be spending the next 4 years of my life in a country that he might conceivably be in charge of I take this issue much more seriously.
It is still my belief that Donald Trump does have a “ceiling” in that his views can only appeal to a restricted group of voters that is too small too ever win him the country. That being said I didn’t think he could win the nomination, a feat that seems increasingly likely.
The scarier part of Donald Trump may not be his run at the white house but the effect of his demagoguery in the long term. Many people claim he is not “politically correct” but it’s worse than that: Only 2% of Donald Trump’s statements are described as true by PolitiFact. Remarkably Trump is trusted on his false promises and generalisations. He claims he’s not a politician and yet is possibly the most adept of all current candidates at dodging questions. Though Trumps voters may have stuck with the republican establishment in the recent past they have completely broken ties with that same group in supporting Trump.
Some claim this break arises form the voters constantly being promised a “golden goose” by the republican elites and constantly failing to deliver or to even win the office. Trump is seen as a prude businessman who will deliver on his promises rather than simply say fancy rhetoric and do nothing. Trump’s rise, though unexpected, comes down to fairly simple factors. Simply put: a group of angry disenfranchised people who have been sold false promises for a generation and now blame “the Washington elite” for all problems.
The more complex and terrifying question arises when we look at whether Donald Trump’s rhetoric will have a lasting effect on American politics. His demagoguery is incredibly dangerous and it’s difficult to imagine that the emotions shown at his rallies will disappear even if he loses. In fact they probably will get worse as his supporters may feel like they are being ignored.
Calling Mexicans rapists, advocating war crimes against the families of terrorists and generalising Muslims all form part of the dangerous rhetoric Trump has spread and it may be too late to ever erase those perspectives completely.
The lack of trust in politicians in America combined with Donald Trump’s reputation as a “shrewd businessman” have combined to create a presidential candidate who can ignore facts, openly discriminate against minorities and have verbal fights with the pope without losing a vote. Trump has said he could “shoot somebody and [he] wouldn’t lose any voters.” Scarier than that is that less than a third of trump supporters said they would not vote for him if he did shoot someone in broad daylight on fifth street according to The Sun.
What could be scarier than that? Well possibly it’s the fact that Trumps supporters, though they may seem to have arisen from nowhere, aren’t leaving anytime soon. Trumps presidential run may end soon but his rhetoric won’t die quickly and it could influence American elections for generations to come.