Will love Trump hate?
In lieu of the recent presidential debate, it’s becoming harder and harder to explain how Donald Trump has made it this far in the presidential candidacy. A year ago, his campaign was a joke. People would quote him on Facebook to laugh at his ridiculous statements and brush off his offensive tweets and dictations because everyone knew he wouldn’t actually make it far. Today, he is a serious potential candidate for President. A racist, misogynistic, ill-prepared, and irrational serious candidate for President, and it isn’t funny anymore.
So how did he make it this far in the first place? It’s clear to anyone who hears Trump speak that this is not a man who should be in charge of one of the world’s leading superpowers. He has shown us that scapegoating, fear mongering, and jokes at the expense of women, disabled reporters, and immigrants are not above him; so who is still voting for him? The people who have been laughing along.
First of all, Trump is an entertainer. There is no denying the fact that his appearance on talk shows and social media has caught the attention of the masses. Although it’s obvious that Hillary Clinton’s statements to the public are much more coherent, diplomatic, and sensible, they just aren’t as amusing to watch; and are therefore passing by unnoticed to those relying solely on the media to make a decision this upcoming election.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has capitalized on the proverb ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ to no end. His tasteless comments on LGBTQ rights, POC immigrants, and sexual assault victims, to name a few, have shifted him into such a negative light it feels like everyone is asking who is still supporting this guy? Unfortunately, Trump’s campaign has gone from laughable to frightening too late, and has planted an ugly, black seed in the minds of closet misogynists, homophobes, and racists. Seeing a man so clearly gaining power at the expense of people he deems ‘beneath’ him, is enforcing the mindset that ‘this kind of behaviour, and these kinds of statements are okay’. The individuals who once kept their ignorant and disrespectful opinions to themselves out of fear of social alienation are now being affirmed by Trump that these opinions are not only correct, but that they just need someone bold and brave to fight for them.
Donald Trump is also using anyone who is not a white, and wealthy man in America (basically the majority of people he uses as the butt of his jokes) as scapegoats for the problems America is facing. This takes the blame off the shoulders of individuals in charge of changing policies related to overarching issues, and places it on the victims instead. For instance, Trump has gained the spotlight for his statements comparing displaced Syrian refugees to the Trojan Horse, and poisoned candy, while also claiming that, if he had the chance, he would “bomb the shit out of [ISIS]”. For those who are not aware, ISIS does not have a secret nation completely isolated from all civilization, and in order to bomb the shit out of them, a percentage of Syrian homes and families will be struck. While Trump is spreading the idea that the American people need to shut out refugees because their supposed dangerous ties to extremists, he has conveniently failed to address who (and what) these people are running from.
Scapegoating is, unfortunately, an effective tactic to gaining popularity. Instead of causing turmoil within a society, it unites a people by claiming a common enemy. Regardless of if this enemy is fictitious or not, it brings people together and satisfies their feelings of idle guilt because by voting for someone like Donald Trump, they are convinced they are helping to fix the problem holding America back from being great again.
But now let’s take a closer look at why scapegoating is so potent in the first place. It preys on the fearful. Trump would not be able to convince Americans that allowing greater numbers of refugee families into The States was a bad idea half as easily if fear wasn’t a factor; therefore he exploits the tragedies surrounding the recent attacks in Germany and France to further his political goals. In 2013, the US Department of Justice published statistics showing that between 2001 and 2011, an annual average of 31 people were killed in America by terrorism, discounting the 9/11 attacks. This might seem scary if taken out of context; however, when one researches the statistics, not only have non-Muslims made up for 94% of the terrorist attacks in America spanning 1980-2005, but a staggering 11, 385 individuals are killed on average annually by gun violence unrelated to terrorism. This takes the finger Trump is pointing at the Muslim population, and turns it back on Americans. But who wants to fumigate a house when you could just close the door?
Editor: Robyn Welsh, firstname.lastname@example.org