Breaking Down Trumpism

It’s safe to say that this election year is none like we have ever seen before: the first female nominee of a major party going head-to-head with a businessman whose very impromptu, anti-establishment, braggadocio behavior enhances his allure. We’ve said, time and time again, that he would fail, that this would be his last run, that he would never get away with this. And yet, Donald J. Trump, Republican nominee for President of the United States, has only seemed to grow more influential and grip more voters under his promise of “Making America Great Again.”

Supporters of Republican U.S. Presidential nominee Donald Trump hold up signs while attending a campaign rally in Panama City, Florida on October 11, 2016. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar.

Supporters of Republican U.S. Presidential nominee Donald Trump hold up signs while attending a campaign rally in Panama City, Florida on October 11, 2016. Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar.

But beyond the heated debates, beyond the ads and campaign slogans, even beyond the candidates themselves, there seems to be a more fundamental force brewing, one that has gone unrecognized for far too long. Americans are frustrated. Frustrated that more jobs are leaving the U.S. for Asia and Latin America than ever before, more of their hard-earned money is being siphoned into a government they view as ineffective, more of their leaders failing to secure the borders and taking care of critical business overseas. It is this that has fueled the rise of Trumpism.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric, in all of its antics and audaciousness, captures this exact sentiment, the feelings of a significant portion of the population. The so-called “silent majority” was a term first coined by Richard Nixon to describe Americans who felt disenfranchised following the Kennedy-Johnson liberal reforms. To them, the liberals seemed to listen to the loudest voices in the room—often those of activist groups for civil and economic rights—while ignoring them, the “silent majority,” who remained hardworking citizens and “ordinary folk.” Surrounded by social upheaval, exorbitant taxation, and breakdown of law and order, these groups gave their support to Republicans like Nixon and Reagan to restore America to what it used to be, where they had greater power, clout, security, and confidence in their future prospects.

Today, the silent majority in America is frustrated and wants a voice that can speak for it in Washington. Even if Trump loses to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, these groups and the feelings they represent will remain stronger than ever. America, in essence, is going through an identity crisis. Ever since the passage of NAFTA in the 1990s, outsourcing businesses have closed millions of manufacturing and mining jobs in the Rust Belt and Appalachia, giving rise to severe unemployment. This is coupled with the transformation of America’s economy from manufacturing-based to information-based, further isolating those without the skills or know-how to participate in an increasingly technical world. The spread of terrorism worldwide, increasing racial tensions at home, and police violence have only reinforced these individuals’ views that America is fundamentally broken and the leaders are asleep at the helm. She is no longer serving the people who made her great in the first place, and she is losing tremendously on the global stage.

Trump merely serves as a voice for the masses of people who feel this way, who yearn for the America that they know and love—one with laissez-faire economic policies, manufacturing opportunities, and social law and order. One way or another, the next President will have to address this facet of America. It will be a daunting task and will require immense skill, but it must be done before America can achieve true progress. After all, how can we claim to be the leader of the 21st century world when half of our population believes we are losing at every turn?

As The New York Times reports, Trump was shrewd: he recognized the sentiments of rage and uncertainty, and he built his campaign by tapping into those sentiments. The silent majority is speaking out louder than ever; it holds great uncertainty over the future of our country, and it is angry. This time, the government needs to listen.

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