by Rose Joby
Within a year of being elected to power, 40% of the same country that voted Donald Trump into Presidency, wants him impeached. They want him out, even as they try to puzzle out how on earth he got in. His victory in the Presidential Election of 2016 still seems to be shrouded in mystery to many, given his murky reputation in the media as a misogynist and a bigoted right wing rabble rouser. Let alone the common man, even the major polls and analysts had failed to predict his victory in the election leaving one to fathom over the credibility of these sources.
In contrast to popular beliefs that Trump’s victory was the culmination of numerous attributes, the harsh reality tends to be more complex than perceived. The root of Trump’s rise to popularity can be traced back to the fact that he simulated a platform that addressed the anxieties of the white working class voter. In fact, he preyed on the insecurities of the people and tended to address their common concerns by scapegoating the ‘outsiders’.
With regards to issues of employment, the economies of developing countries like India, China etc. which apparently gulped down vast amounts of capital by flaunting its abundant and cheap labour were labeled the ‘outsiders’. When he shifted the spotlight to terrorism and ideas of security, the ‘outsiders’ became the Muslims and the Mexicans, the “rapists” and “criminals”, on whom he proposed a blanket ban.
Trump’s success cannot be attributed to a sheer luck of the draw scenario nor can it be credited to Clinton’s blunders. Quite to the contrary, all of Trump’s manoeuvres can be boiled down to one word – ‘Fear’. Trump managed to succeed because he preyed on the fears of the people. Fear is a very powerful and a highly underestimated tool which has the capability to sway the hearts of the people. It was this ‘fear’ that has led to people being ostracized for centuries, be it the Jews or even the survivors of Guantanamo Bay, people whose lives were reduced to rubble within the blink of an eye.
Trump’s deliberate tactics of manipulation were predicated on sowing the seeds of fear and suspicion amongst the people. He also promised to ‘Make America Great (read White) Again’ by masquerading as a flag bearer of change. His image as a successful businessman further solidified by shows like ‘The Apprentice’ helped to create a sense of credibility among the voters who felt they were in the presence of someone capable of delivering his promises. His appeal in the rust belt stands as a testament of the grieving unemployed who pinned all their hopes on him. However, Trump’s vote bank did not consist of the terrified out-of-work man in the Mid-West. Instead, it comprised of a considerable amount of the wealthy white people who were promised a break from higher tax rates. Hence, it does not come as a surprise to many that, the vast majority of people who openly criticise him, ardently vouch for him behind closed doors in order to avoid being criticized for empathising with his corrupt views.
Trump’s rise to power has been creating ripple effects with more and more countries paving the way for similar figures like Marine Le Pen and Norbert Hofer who are climbing the ladders of power under the disguise of populism. Condemn them or condone them, whatever your stance might be, underestimating the wave of right wing populism, which feeds on fear and encourages hatred, is no longer a luxury that the world can afford.
Rose Joby is a first year B.A. Economics student at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy.
Featured Image Source: CNBC