Chasing the American Dream: why is Trump so popular in the U.S.?
— 7 minute read — By Daisy Olyett
The United States has been built around the philosophy to take opportunities and find success; although the country has changed profoundly since its discovery, the men who govern it have not. The 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, holds many similarities to America’s founding fathers, except instead of preaching “Go West!” he offers a more modern interpretation, “grab life by the p***y”. Despite the crudeness of his language, Trump’s mission to “Make America Great Again” has inspired millions of Americans to vote for the Republican Party in the hopes that Trump’s presidency might usher another golden age of American production.
In a post 9/11 America, citizens have searched for a head strong leader to take action, and in 2016 nearly 63 million Americans thought that Trump could embody this role. However, it is known that the United States is home to a plethora of Republican business tycoons, so why is it that Trump was so special? and furthermore, why are working class voters of all colours and creeds in awe of such a narrow-minded individual?
Trump’s most longstanding supporters also happen to be the richest, who quite conveniently had access to hundreds of thousands of dollars to push his 2016 presidential campaign forward. All of these supporters benefit from Trump’s tax cutting initiatives that also enhance the deregulation of industrial production. Such policies allow billion dollar companies to increase their profits as long as they increase their American-based production; this may seem as a win-win for employers and workers but Trump’s tax cuts have disproportionately benefited the rich who fail to increase wages for workers whilst they watch their profits soar.
Other key supporters for Trump’s campaign include the GEO Group and CoreCivic, the titans of the American prison-industrial complex. Such companies contributed $250,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign and as a result, the number of migrants being detained by ICE has skyrocketed, which has consequently increased their powers and funding. In addition to this, Trump’s industrial deregulation schemes have enabled prisons and jails to serve lower quality food, cut resources and medical care and increase prison populations to ensure larger profits for their corporate managers. With 75 percent of detention facilities in the US being privately owned, Trump could not have picked a better industry to align his presidency with, in terms of profit of course. In this so called “land of the free”, nearly one in every one hundred Americans are incarcerated ; but with this figure unfairly targeting migrants and minorities, many Americans view this as an opportunity to increase employment without competition from foreign workers.
However, the majority of Trump’s financial backers are not simply individuals who would benefit from his time in office, they are business giants that once sat across from him at the negotiations table. Legally speaking, one cannot contribute more than $5,600 to an individual’s campaign for presidency but this amount soon becomes limitless if this individual’s fundraising is monitored by a committee that accepts donations. Due to this loop hole, eighteen different billionaires were able to make contributions to Trump’s campaign with some devoting millions of dollars from fields such as finance, real estate and energy to ensure Trump’s success. Upon Trump’s announcement of his candidacy, the presidential race was no longer concerned with politics, it became a race to see which candidate could get the most amount of zeros behind their net worth. The democratic values of American elections came into question after Trump’s win, but to what extent are Trump’s supporters concerned about politics and democracy for that matter?
The main port of call for Trump’s opponents when criticising his ability as a leader, is to condemn his complete lack of political correctness, yet this is what drives supporters his way in the first place. It is an understatement to say that the American people have come to distrust politicians, after Watergate, the Iraq War and the economic crises over the past fifty years it has become clear that politicians seem to cause more problems than solve them in the United States. Therefore, when a rich, powerful and decisive figure like Trump steps forward and offers a definite plan of action, one may be able to understand why a man like Trump is in office.
After building a multi-billion dollar empire from real estate and hosting the American Apprentice, Trump soon became a household name. Proof of Trump’s business acumen was evident across America, if not the world, he was a man who got what he wanted and made large amounts of money doing so. Although, his hard-headed approach to business made him a billionaire and ultimately President of the United States, this did not make him an effective leader. Carefully calculated policies that benefit the majority are key in political decision-making, but Trump often makes rash decisions with little fear of the backlash they may bring. This can be applied to his treatment of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, where he was quick to label protesters as “thugs” and “terrorists” but initiated no plan to end racial profiling by police officers.
Whilst this swift and irresponsible form of governing may seem chaotic, Americans still offer their unwavering support to Trump and the Republican Party. Another way to examine why Trump is so popular is to understand who he speaks for, and a simple answer would be those who have felt voiceless in America. Racial tension, binary views towards gender and capitalist values are what America was formed around, thankfully more dialogue around these issues has helped to combat them; but those who still hold onto these conservative ideas often feel silenced by the mainstream media and they see Trump as their opportunity to be heard. His willingness to express views that are controversial without hesitation can be seen as admirable by many Americans, whatever their background may be if they feel shunted by society, Trump may seem like their only solution.
Minorities, women and many others in the United States have felt consistently overlooked by both Democrats and Republicans after experiencing failure after failure to tackle deep-rooted prejudices in American society. Although Trump makes few statements about equalising opportunity in America, his willingness to put thought into action gives many hope that their plight might one day be a priority in the White House. Groups such as “Women for Trump” and the “National Diversity Coalition” are some of the most high profile organisations that support the President. Like many other supporters they believe that Trump stands for their interests as Americans but also their own intersectional values. For the “National Diversity Coalition” for example, this may include maintaining Black Christian values and conservatism, who may support Trump’s focus on crime, but still support “Black Lives Matter”.
Furthermore, women who have felt rejected by the Feminist movement have also found a voice among fellow Trump supporters. Liberal movements today, in light of cancel culture, often feel the need to ridicule and silence the voices of people who may disagree with their beliefs, which often does more harm than good. Women who may identify as pro-life, anti-trans or so forth have undoubtedly been forced out of feminist discussions, which has now given birth to the “Women for Trump” group.
The systematic rejection of conservative view points by the liberal movement has only increased Trump’s support. The harsh divide between Democrat and Republican in the US has definitely facilitated this cancel culture and as a result any insults that may been thrown to either side only increases their appeal. This dramatic demand for change by the American people has radically altered their political system. As more people feel lost in a sea of opinions from the news and social media, for example, they crave a single definitive voice to lead the way; and this voice has manifested itself into Donald Trump.
After a series of attacks, conflicts and economic struggles Americans decided that a businessman who has proven he can obtain results was their rightful president. Personal opinion and political decorum is no longer as much of a priority for Republican voters than it once was, rather the cult of the celebrity has a much more inviting appeal. Although it has come to light that Trump may be loosing his popularity as he continuously fails to support Black Lives Matter and protect all who are and wish to be American, his rapid rise to the White House must not be forgotten nor ignored, as history has a habit of repeating itself.