Since the beginning of the presidential election campaign we’ve seen Donald Trump plastered across our screens and across all forms of media because of stupid things he’s said or extreme policies he’s backing. We’ve also seen his rise, with quite a lot of incredulity, to popularity and it really (really) begs the question; who is actually voting for him?! And perhaps more to the point, why?!
Despite being an American Studies student, and thus an American politics student, and keeping up with the presidential election in a kind of check-in every now and then kind of way, I really had no idea what was going on with Trump and his rising support, so decided to do a little digging. My first point of call was The Atlantic online magazine, one of my favourites for American political news and general culture, as I knew it would have some juicy info as to what the deal with Trump was. I stumbled upon this post and started to gain more of an understanding, at times I even, believe it or not, saw where some of the contributors were coming from.
One of the main themes I gathered from the article was that people are voting for Trump because of his extremity and boldness; some seem to believe that his huge ego won’t allow him to slip up or make any mistakes in the public eye. Others, particularly a younger generation, are voting for him for pure comedic value and just to “watch the world burn”. There was a proportion who saw him as the best of a bad bunch, capable of actually getting stuff done as he wasn’t a wet. The final group of voters are perhaps the most worrying; those who genuinely believe in his ideas and policies. It’s at this point that I stumbled upon this little gem which opened a whole new window of insight, giving me a firmer grasp on the situation. Frum claims that there is a “Middle America”, a belt of middle class, white Americans who are fed up with the current situation and have grown tired of government and the large corporations supporting government. This “Middle America” is those who are fed up of immigrants entering the country and stealing their jobs, it is those who are nostalgic for the old way of life, the old America and how things used to be. Frum claims that this is the group who are voting for Trump, and there are rather a lot of them.
The article also goes on to explain how, in many cases, there is a lack of ideological drive behind the support for Trump; what motivates them is a purely selfish, yet perhaps understandable, desire for a better quality of life. Frum suggests that there are a growing number of typically-Republican supporters who are branching from the typical right wing agenda, creating their own, new Republican agenda which seems to incorporate some arguably left ideas, such as a strong welfare state and a distrust of big business, yet envelopes the traditional anti-immigration and anti-high tax principles of the GOP. There’s a sense of irony that it is apparently this group who are voting for Trump, yet Trump owns one of the largest corporations in the States. However, it perhaps more the quality of life, anti-immigration and return of the “great America” ideas which steer voters to support Trump.
Personally, I have no idea how the next few months of the election campaign will pan out; perhaps it will be another Romney situation in which we are all terrified of the growing support for Trump, yet it turns out not to be such a close election after all, or perhaps his support will only grow. Guess we will just have to wait and see…