Kira Gabriel ’19 – Inside Politics Participant
For all his bravado and bluster, presidential candidate and possible Republican nominee Donald Trump does not actually say much. Instead of presenting any substantive ideas, policies, or reforms, Trump tends to state unsubstantiated and baseless problems. In a speech last June, Trump alleged, “Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them.” Rather than offering facts or figures to bolster his claims, Trump has the tendency to simply restate his previous sentiments, often without even rephrasing.
The solutions to the unfounded problems he presents often are just as lacking for a basis in reality. Famously, Trump promised to build a wall on the United State’s southern border, stating, “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.” Nowhere in that statement, and indeed in many of his statements, was there any actual plan or solution.
On December 7th, Trump released a statement that called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” In a speech regarding his position, Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension.” He essentially said himself that this opinion was not based in any fact, rather that the fact was just “obvious”.
However, Donald Trump is not selling pragmatic reform, nor is he offering political progress- he is offering quite the opposite. Staunchly, Trump stands against politicians and the established political systems. He is even bankrolling his own campaign, a key point to his operation. Trump, during his speech announcing his candidacy, said, “Well, you need somebody, because politicians are all talk, no action. Nothing’s gonna get done… But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.”
He is the candidate who will not sell out to corporations, nor politicians; he will not bend to foreign nations, the media, or even women. It is not important that the Economist stated that his wall plan would cost “$285 billion, by one estimate—roughly $900 in new taxes for every man, woman and child”, nor is it relevant that his plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country is entirely unconstitutional. The fact that Trump’s companies declared bankruptcy four times and part of his speech was used in an ISIS video seems to be insignificant. Facts are irrelevant. The strong support for Trump is a deeply emotional reaction, where logic is trivial.
Donald Trump has managed to tap into a population of disenfranchised voters who feel left behind by recent shifts in society. The fear of terrorism and frustrations regarding unemployment, have translated into racism and xenophobia- something Trump plays right into. He also offers a strong pushback against the recent societal movement towards a more politically correct discourse, stating, “We can’t worry about being politically correct.”
Trump, like all good salesmen, is selling an idea. His slogan, “Make America Great Again,” suggests that as a nation, we can return to our former glory. However, he conveniently forgets the racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and economic miseries that plagued America’s past – and may again come in November.