Why Is Trump Doing Well? It’s the Economy, Stupid, and That Makes Him Very Dangerous
As someone who lives in New York City, and mainly runs in leftist circles, I see question after question on social media asking why it’s even remotely possible that Donald Trump is doing well in the 2016 Presidential election.
It’s not hard to see where this consternation comes from. By his own account, Trump:
- Says terribly racist things.
- Has no concrete plans about the policies he wants to implement.
- Uses bullying tactics against his opponents.
- Flip-flops minute to minute on his positions.
- Shouts fascist propaganda on the stump.
He’s a horrifying mess, and no one seems to understand how he could appeal to any normal person.
Well that’s where you need to stop. He’s not making his case to normal people. He’s making it to desperate people, particularly ones that are white. And let me emphasize desperate, and not stupid.
While the economy is certainly on the rebound since the Great Recession, there are a lot of lingering effects from the collapse. The two biggest ones (and the ones you’ve heard most often about) are stagnant wages, and the ever-increasing wealth gap.
Typically when the economy comes up, the left always brings up a variation of this argument: “Income inequality! Well then, people who are struggling should vote for a liberal who wants to level the playing field, and not some whacko billionaire.”
That’s all well and good, but get out of your own shoes for a minute and think about the harsher realities out there. For a white person who has a marginal education, skills that are becoming less and less relevant to the modern economy, and is being crushed by unending inflation, the last eight years under a liberal president have not been good. They’ve been pretty awful. Would that person really have any solid reason to continue supporting the policies of President Obama? No. They would want something different.
“But,” you say, “The policies of neo-cons completely wrecked the country! Why go back to THAT?”
Because face it, even the best of us have very little practical knowledge of public policy. Even those of us who claim to be educated on the issues wouldn’t, for example, be able to tell the difference between a Keynesian economic strategy and a Hayekian one, despite the great importance. Even you, dear lefty, are more concerned with your own day-to-day survival than the policy that effects the world at large. It’s human nature, which is why we even HAVE governments in the first place: to handle all the big societal things we don’t have (or want) the capacity to think about.
But Trump and the other candidates are so icky!
Of course they are. And dangerous, too. The people running for president on the Republican side are willfully against reasonable policy, and are generally just pandering to an electorate that feels frightened and hopeless. It’s a naked power grab, and here’s why it works:
Consider this: You live in a place where recession never really left, are a Christian (even if in name only), and white. You work a fairly inconsequential, low paying job, and getting a higher paying one is incredibly difficult. And a raise at your current job? Next to impossible. Oh, and get this, you have a president who’s NOT white, and is always talking about finding opportunities for minorities, while you get a sense that you’ve been completely forgotten.
What would that make you feel?
Anger. Pure, unadulterated anger.
If you’ve heard doomsayers compare our current situation to the one that brought Nazis to power in the 1920s and 30s, they’re onto something. Who do you think Hitler was trying to appeal to? Armchair leftists types, sharing cat pictures and pro-feminist clips on Facebook? No, he was going after the angry people. The ones who were struggling to survive. The people who didn’t understand politics or policy, because politics and polices don’t put food on the table or pay the mortgage.
So when Trump says how much he loves “poorly educated people,” he means it. A riled, uniformed electorate can be a powerful pawn when you want to become the leader of a shaky nation.
I mean, just look at the strategies all of the Republican candidates are using right now:
- Reversing everything Obama has done.
- Clinging harder to Christianity.
- Doubling down on gun issues.
Are you seeing a trend? If you’re struggling, and someone says your opponent will take things from you–things you barely have in the first place–how exactly would you react?
You’d vote against your best interest, because it doesn’t feel like that at all. Trump is big. He’s powerful. He’s a bully. He says anything that pops in his head. If you were feeling hopeless and weak, and saw someone like that, wouldn’t you be in awe? Wouldn’t you consider voting for someone who says ‘fuck you’ to the people you think are holding you down?
You bet your ass you would.
So what’s a good liberal supposed to do here?
You want to stop this? Get pissed, and move beyond general liberal talking points. Employ the strategy that Bill Clinton used in 1992, which I not-so-coincidentally included in the title of this essay:
“It’s the economy, stupid.”
Abortion, gun control, racial equality, gay rights, and all those other issues are very important, but let’s face it: they aren’t as important as the issue of day-to-day survival. When your personal security and livelihood are threatened, how do you respond? Anxiety rises and you end up making decisions based on protecting yourself against further danger.
And that’s the operative word here: Anxiety.
A large segment of the United States feels incredibly anxious about their living situation and immediate futures. And that large segment of the Unites States is currently using their vote as a blunt instrument of that anger.
If you’re crazy enough to think that Trump and his ilk don’t know this, or aren’t actively capitalizing on it, you’ll quickly learn it’s not the GOP that’s deluded–