Confused Why Donald Trump’s Message Is Resonating?
Benjy Boxer

Well thought out article but as a lot of my British friends would say, also “for the most part just a lot of intellectual wankery”.

The idea of globalisation and income disparity is certainly affecting our country, and has probably had a significant effect on 15% or so of our population.

However, Trump is currently somewhere around 50% of our vote, which means that 35% of the United States is planning to vote for him despite being unaffected by the increased outsourcing of jobs and transition to a more services focused economy. Obama did a great job of ending the economic downturn and encouraging new growth and new job creation, a trend which looks to only be accelerating.

How then can he be winning so much of the vote if so many people are in fact better off than they were in 2008?

Sadly, the answer is not always economic but in this case seems to be a factor of four other key drivers, all of which are working together to potentially send us over the precipice into madness:

  1. Hillary Clinton. Whether you argue sexism or the simple fact that she has been around for a long time and plagued with one accusation of corruption after another in all that time, the sample fact remains that a lot of people really don’t like her, and that Trump is winning a huge share of the vote not because he has any positive qualities, but rather because “at least he’s not Hillary!”. When you probe into this a bit it gets confusing because it doesn’t seem based on anything she’s actually been found guilty of. Her detractors continue to repeat accusations like Whitewater (despite being cleared), Benghazi (despite being cleared seven times), her private email server (despite being cleared), and so on, yet even after she’s been found innocent of wrongdoing people still use these against her. Additionally, Hillary Clinton’s approval rating seems to have more to do with people not liking when she’s seeking a promotion, as her approvals always jump whenever she’s in office, but dive again whenever she’s campaigning for a new one. Great article here: Regardless, any discussion of Trump’s popularity cannot omit a thoughtful analysis of the significant dislike of Hillary Clinton.
  2. Barrack Obama’s color and the Fear of the Other. If you read the comments in ANY article on Fox News or any political article in general, you’re going to see dozens upon dozens of remarks beginning with “I’m not a racist but…”. Trump is hugely popular now, and Trump was one of the biggest proponents of Obama needing to show his birth certificate. Trump first began getting popular in 2015 by talking up the need for a wall along the border to Mexico, however ridiculous people knew the idea was. People like him even though he calls illegal Mexican immigrants murderers and rapists. People like him though he says we need to register Muslims and end the immigration of all Muslims “until we figure out what is going on”. My sister is college educated white upper class and both her and her husband until recently were fans of Trump because they too think immigration issues should be the highest priority. All of this suggests that there is significant deep-seated fear and concern around whites no longer being in control of the United States, and that alone explains a huge amount of Trump’s popularity, even if our economic had absolutely zero issues.
  3. ISIS and Islamic terror. Yes, we can look to the facts to see that terror attacks in Western Europe are in fact significantly DOWN versus comparisons to the 60’s and 70’s. And we can point to the fact that between 2002 and 2015 that there were only a total of THIRTY FIVE deaths in the United States from radical Islamic terrorism while in this same period there were over 335,000 gun related deaths, and that in 2015 ALONE more people were killed by toddlers firing guns than in all those years from radical Islamic terrorism. And yet partly due to #2 above and mostly due to #4 below, this topic still carries a huge amount of weight with the population, and anyone who doesn’t address it directly is going to have a hard time.
  4. Finally, and this is the big one, I claim that the biggest shift in our country in the past eight years — and the biggest reason we’ve seen the rise of Donald Trump — is the increasing distrust we’ve come to see in the media, due in large part to the policies of Roger Ailes to create news with a conservative bias that focuses on ratings over objectivity and rationality. Fox News has found a miracle cocktail for high ratings: say absurd things, get ratings up, and then rather than apologise or correct themselves or show two sides of the story, they just move on to the next topic. If you watch Fox News you see very different side of President Obama, where he comes off as a Disney moustache-swirling cartoon villain who is out to destroy America and probably a Muslim, and Hillary Clinton is a money-seeking, murdering, crooked liar who likewise is out to destroy freedom. There’s no conversation whatsoever about the pros and cons of each party, and how we can all benefit by working together to join the country, and as the Sean Hannity’s of the world and Fox and Friends and so on have continued to aggressively stir up resentment for Obama and his policies, the table has been set for someone like Donald Trump to assume power, as to a large degree we now live in what I’ve heard perfectly described as a “post-factual world”, where “feelings” are just as important as “facts”. If you “feel” that terrorism is everywhere, violent crime is skyrocketing, and immigration is getting horribly bad, then even if reliable statistics tell us the opposite story, it doesn’t matter because we feel those things.

My apologies for continuing on at such length, but any cure for any illness requires BOTH a consideration of the patient’s physical symptoms as well as a careful psychological examination of their state of mind. You’ve done a great job of outlining the United States’ physical symptoms, but you’ve completely omitted a review of our state of mind, and when you add that in it’s rather clear that Trump was inevitable: we are not in a good mental state right now, and unless we can address the issues above, especially #4, I don’t see how we’re going to get better anytime soon, even if the economy turns around brilliantly (“I know the economy’s NOT better… that’s just what YOUR website says!”).