Jamal is a graduate of Northeastern Seminary and writes on a broad range of topics. His writings are based on other points of view.
Donald Trump is now looking to be the next Republican candidate for presidency. Leading up to this, I have heard many people declaring that should he become president, they were going to move to another country. The bitter irony being that many of these same people were a few months ago laughing at the very prospect of him becoming president because it seemed like a joke: another Ross Perot for those of you old enough to remember.
How and why did this happen? While I am no political analysts, I do have a pair of eyes and ears, and I find the reasons both already known, and hiding in plain sight.
Judging a Book by it's Cover
The first factor that lead to Trump's political success was as mentioned earlier, he was considered a joke. While yes, he had respect in the business world for just his very name, politically and logically speaking, there was nothing to support the idea of him as running an entire nation.
It was funny, a joke to watch on the Comedy Channel and Twitter. Even HBO political satirist, Jon Oliver commented that the reason it took so long for his show, Last Week Tonight, to finally decide to do a story on him, that the was because it seemed to far fetched that Trump would get as far as he did.
Progressive Americans started singing another tune however when he began making his outrageous remarks about Mexican migrants being criminals and rapists. And then Muslims being banned from the country, and then insulting Fox news journalist, Megan Kelly, for questioning him aggressively because she was having a period. The reaction was as expected: online uproar and people demanding he recant his statements. In normal politics, that is enough to get a politician, especially a presidential hopeful, to back down. Trump did not, and now he's about to be crowned the Republican candidate for the US presidency and instead of laughing, we're dumbfounded.
We the People
The second factor in Trump's success is implied in the first factor: popular support. While Trump himself became a lightning rod for every SJW(social justice warrior) and progressive, liberal activist American in the country, it was almost virtually ignored until too late that his power wasn't coming from what he said, but from the many Americans who actually agreed with him!
I wouldn't credit the man for being some political genius, nor am I justifying the violence that many of his supporters commit against those who disagree or make fun of Trump. However he definitely hit a nerve that connected with a large portion of Americans who were starting to feel steam rolled by the progressive swing of the country in the last eight years.
There is a game that is played out in our society where many (not all), liberal Americans aggressively pursue the achievement of civil rights and tolerance by not only challenging the vocal conservatives who don't agree with them, but almost outright trying to shut them down using media insults and even memes and jokes on twitter and Facebook to shame them into backing off. This has created a feeling of anything but tolerance, and that is coupled with a perceived loss of national prestige and a economy hostile to business economy. While many conservative Americans are content to disagree, the perceived over reactions by many liberals have caused them to feel like, ironically, minorities whose voice was being shut out.
For most of us, this was a good thing. America was starting to reach the ideal set forth two centuries ago that all people ('men' in the actual text FYI) were created equal. In our hope however, we ignored this silent portion of Americans, who grew increasingly resentful. Wrote the whole lot of them off with a swipe of the brush as homophobic, racist, and ignorant. Enter Donald Trump, who like many Republican candidates started voicing these growing frustrations, but unlike his peers, didn't back down or change his words when the reactions hit. To a populace who felt like they were losing ground and a their voice, Donald Trump is like their Barack Obama when he first ran in 2004, with any faults or specific statements easily forgiven or rationalized away in favor of the perceived greater good he represents to them.
The third factor involved is Trump's independent resources. A major reason why so many politicians who make statements like Trump's inevitably renig on them is because the reaction by progressive citizens often threatens their ability to fund their campaigns. So they try to compromise, negotiating their words to still carry the same message, but being less openly volatile. Donald Trump is a billionaire. His money, while also potentially being an isolating factor, is also a strength in that it isn't reliant on factors vulnerable to protests and competing economic interests of financial backers. Candidate self-financing is a whopping $36,243,646, compared to the Individual Contributions of about $12,149,834. This not only effectively negated the main weapon against him, but also provided a solid foundation where he could afford to dismiss public disapproval.
Democracy: A Level Playing Field
So where does that leave America? Whether or not Donald Trump wins the candidacy for president or even the office itself, his campaign has erased the public perception of how progressive our society is or how unified we are in that journey. We must deal with the reality that many of us don't like the direction that is going in, or want more of a voice that isn't immediately muted because it is not popular. I am not a conservative person, but I am honest enough to acknowledge that from here on, Americans must deal with each other more openly, no matter how ugly or reserved their opinions maybe, within law. That is both the inherent risk and strength of a democracy.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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Maya Shedd Temple