Donald Trump is indeed the US President. For many of us, picking Trump is simply inconceivable. Exeposé has spoken to Americans to better understand his supporters and discover what is detractors fear the most.
Jason is a 23-year old postgraduate student and firearm salesman from Nebraska and was an adamant supporter of Trump from the get-go. Two simple words uttered by Trump sum up what won his support: America First. This simple phrase encapsulated how Trump means “the rejection of poor trade deals like TPP and continually meddling in conflicts that do not concern us.” That’s putting it simply, he concedes, “And you can put my name on that”. For Jason, the choice between Trump and Clinton is a clear one. He describes Clinton as a “corrupt profiteer who has made the entirety of her fortunes selling favours. Classic politics is what has gotten us into the current mess” he quips. His words echo a sentiment that dictated Trump’s success.
Nonetheless, others are more sceptical of the looming Trump presidency. Nick, a 21 year old engineering student from Nebraska, describes the choice the American people were faced with as between “a stereotypically corrupt candidate” and a “filthy celebrity that never has held a political position”. Clinton is seen as unfit to be president as she does “too mch behind the scenes that will destroy our country”. Trump therefore emerges as the candidate brimming with “pride in the American economy and nation”, a man capable of restoring the lacking military.
Toni, 52, a businesswoman from Arizona, sums up her view of the candidates with a damning “the bottom line is that they both suck”. She laments how “many American women support [Clinton] because she is female. This sets us back, as we should not let gender determine who we vote for. We should vote for the best person to financially help America and fix the mess of our health care system that the Democrats have created”. Unable to vote for the first time in her life, due to being out of the country, she remains undecided on how she would have picked and painfully aware of how divided the United States have become: “most Americans were not voting for someone, but voting against someone. That is sad to say.”
“most Americans were not voting for someone, but voting against someone”
The media are also seen as playing a crucial role in the election. Toni found the US media coverage to be extremely biased against Trump, whilst both Jason and Nick do not think Trump’s infamous comments on minorities will play a part in his presidency.
Jason points out an element of Trump’s appeal: the pandering a large portion of the population that has been disenfranchised, an issue similar to that highlighted by Brexit in Britain. “He appeals to those of us who have been left behind by globalism” – he explains – “those are people whose jobs have already been off-shored or are under threat of it, and whose communities are thus affected. For people like myself, he represents the antithesis of everything the establishment stand for. We support him because he won’t pander to interests who don’t care about the US, and he will, literally, prevent business as usual from continuing on in Washington. He is the epitome of the outsider, and that is why a portion of the population support, even adore him”.
However, the rise of the “epitome of the outsider” is only making other citizens and residents of the United States feel even more alienated and outsiders themselves. Sabrina R. and Val Alonso are both part of minority group in the United States. Sabrina, an alumna of Berkeley University in California, points to other factors in Trump’s success. Trump’s election is “an indicator of how entrenched white supremacy continues to be within the US. This doesn’t mean that Hillary is a saviour and her white feminism politics doesn’t mean we’re in the clear”.
Trump means “the rejection of poor trade deals like TPP and continually meddling in conflicts that do not concern us”
Val, a student from the University of Miami who was born in Colombia, does not mince her words. “It’s genuinely disheartening that such a large part of the country that one comes to love, identifies with the rhetoric of a racist and ignorant misogynist” – she asserts. “Even if they don’t and just vote for him because he embodies their intense dissatisfaction for society, it’s heartbreaking that such a large part of America is willing to put America’s future on the line to prove their dissent with tradition”. Not being a citizen, she cannot vote but is “immensely proud” of the mobilisation of Latinos this election. “Sadly, I know fear of Trump has driven them there; we are afraid of Trump’s power over policy, possibly leading to our deportation and the empowering of hate groups”.
This is not an unfamiliar pattern for any of us. The words of Jason and Val in particular strike a chord with anyone who closely observed the unfolding of the Brexit vote in Britain. All parties agree that the vitriol brought on by this election has been almost unprecedented and the US stands divided. Yet, again we are faced with the fact the current economic and political system is cutting off entire swathes of the population. In times like these, it is crucial that we take a long hard look at the workings of our economic system. We cannot afford for inequality to run amok and populism to prevail, exploiting racism, misogyny and homophobia without holding people accountable. The hardest challenge of these referendum and electoral results is to start questioning how we are running the show.