The rise and rise of Donald Trump has shocked both sides of US Politics. But their failure to listen to voters means they are equally to blame, writes Isabelle Walker.
This time last year there’s no way I’d have predicted Donald Trump would be the Republic Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Campaign and I don’t believe I’m alone in that.
I think it’s necessary to deconstruct the reasons why Mr Trump has risen to this position, where come 20 January 2017, he has a 50/50 chance of being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.
Americans – mostly Republicans, but also a spate of previously non-voters – have spoken. The country is the most divided it has been in years. Police killings have risen, with young black men the most vulnerable, and in response, police officers have also found themselves the target of revenge killings.
There is a fight between the #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter campaigns.
Some want to close the borders and build The Wall.
The “Religious Right” and the “Liberal Media” are at constant loggerheads, with nasty attacks waged regularly from each side.
All the while, the inequality gap grows and 45 million Americans find themselves on food stamps.
Many of the people who have been voting for Trump – mostly poor, white and conservative – feel they have no leadership from their elected officials. This isn’t necessarily reflective of the electorate’s feeling towards just Barack Obama, but to the establishment as a whole – both Democrat and Republican.
Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, darlings of the Republican establishment, didn’t even get a look-in during the Primaries. Their campaigns were dead in the water. Ted Cruz found himself the last bastion of hope for the establishment in the GOP nomination, even though he himself seems somewhat of an extreme candidate.
Bernie Sanders, though ultimately unsuccessful, received a substantial amount of delegates in the Primaries. He is a proclaimed socialist, touting universal healthcare and free community college funding.
The establishment has been given a big wake up call.
The reason for this is that the world as we know it is no longer business as usual.
People may be scared, or baffled, by the rise of Trump, but he didn’t get here by accident. He was voted in, fairly.
Rather than decry the rise of this unlikely political figure, we need to be empathetic to why his voters support him.
His rhetoric is not for turning. There are no platitudes, nor is there political correctness. A lot of his supporters believe their politicians haven’t been representing their values, beliefs or interests for a long time – and now Trump (apparently) is. He is promising to end Muslim immigration. He is promising to “smash ISIS” (the how hasn’t been discussed yet). He is promising to end illegal immigration from Mexico and Latin America more generally.
Though most thought his racist policies would be diluted – even disregarded – soon in the piece if he were to be elected, they’ve rung true with the electorate.
The irony of the situation is the President has his hands tied, a lot of the time, when it comes to domestic policy. Unless a President has political control of the Congress (a difficult thing to achieve), a lot of these promises are empty. Having said that, maybe Donald Trump will be one of the most conciliatory Presidents in history when it comes to Congress, and work with those from the Republican establishment to bring meaningful policy change to America.
Then again, maybe not.
The fact remains, Trump is a result of continued social division and political inertia.
Like many who disagree with Trump, you could be excused for wanting to close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and ignore the next four, possibly eight years should he win on 8 November.
But to ignore Trump, or disregard his rise, is to ignore how he got there in the first place. He has struck a chord with many people, and those people feel they haven’t been listened to for a very long time. There are reasons Average Americans feel their interests aren’t being represented in Washington, despite having Senators and local Representatives present in the Congress. Some say business is too influential, as well as wealthy donors and large lobbying factions. Another area of thought is that politicians try to appease everyone and in doing so, get nothing done.
Whatever it is, Donald Trump is a reaction. He’s a reaction to an impotent political representation that for too long has perpetuated the status quo, to their peril.
However, this maverick may have pushed the boundaries a little too far this time. In recent weeks, Trump has come under fire for making offensive comments directed at the parents of Muslim U.S Army Captain, Humayun Khan, who died in combat and received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star posthumously for bravery. After the Khans appeared at the Democratic National Convention saying they were Muslims who were also proud Americans, Trump questioned why “the mother”, Ghazala Khan, didn’t speak, remarking “maybe she wasn’t allowed to speak”. Now, even one of Trump’s closest supporters, Chris Christie, has labelled his comments inappropriate.
Whatever the fallout from Trump’s wont to outrage, unless the establishment can overhaul itself, and make their constituents feel listened to and represented, we can expect more of the Anti-Politician to come.
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