Answering the question 'why do people love you?', I imagine Trump's response would be the same as a 2017 tweet of his, i.e., because I'm ‘your favorite president that did nothing wrong’.
I will most probably never meet Trump or get to discuss any type of issues with him, as Kanye West has. Nevertheless, I want to attempt to understand his supporters and fans, who stick with him through thick and thin. Despite all the scandals he was involved in, he does not seem to be losing them. As Trump declared himself: ‘I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters’.
Reflecting on facts and strategies of Trump
It is too easy to typify his supporters as brainless and right-winged. But, it is also important to consider the facts. Trump is the President of the US, the incumbent of the most powerful office on earth. Being a president is not something everyone can or will get to do. Therefore, it is important to analyze his strategy throughout his presidency.
This is a suitable time to do so, since he has held office for almost two years already. Furthermore, I want to analyze his constant success, despite a vast amount of scandals, during the elections and currently during his presidency. My main goal is to grasp at least some understanding of his success with his supporters and of his presidency.
I will first take a look back at his early successes, before he ran for office. Given his notoriety and status as maybe one of the most scandalous presidents in US History, it is vital to understand why Trump has not yet been impeached. So far, his policies have affected the local and global population, in a rather negative respect. Thus, will this stop or will it be the start of a vicious cycle, possibly putting an end to US-kindness?
A brief introduction to the Life of Donald Trump
I imagine Trump taking a morning swim in the same way as the famous McDuck, pictured below.
McDuck Dive - McTrump Time
Donald John Trump, the 'great billionaire', real estate mogul and former reality television personality, does not have a humble past. At the age of 25, he had already been involved in large profitable building projects in Manhattan. Just nine years later, he became the best-known developer in the city, when he opened the Grand Hyatt New York.
Trump himself discussed his success during a town hall event in New Hampshire in 2015. His statement, ‘my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars’, shows that he is convinced that life had not been easy for him. He had to repay the money with interest, and Trump is using this information to try to get you to sympathize with his ‘hard life’.
Below, I will argue why this statement is a complete lie (or, ‘putting lipstick on a pig’, as Mr. Schwartz describes it in his interview with The New Yorker in 2016). In 2004, Trump started his career in reality TV, with two successful shows. This gained him fame within the US, with people constantly quoting his famous line from The Apprentice, ‘you’re fired’.
Trump on the TV show The Apprentice
Talking about his success is not as important as learning about his failed businesses. In an article in Newsweek, Trump is described as an arrogant and reckless businessman ‘whose main talent is self-promotion’. He earned this reputation when regulatory, corporate and court records, sworn testimony, and government investigative reports were found in 2016. These included lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors. The quote below illustrates Trump's self-promotional strategies:
"(I am) the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far. Nobody's ever been more successful than me. I'm the most successful person ever to run" (Trump on Des Moines Register, 2/6/2015)
What does this really say about Trump? Is he delusional or a master of denial? To me, it seems as if Trump is an excellent supporter. Of himself.
Trump as President - The God Complex
The quote below illustrates Trump's God Complex:
"Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest - and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure, it's not your fault" (Trump on Twitter, 9/5/2013)
Trump turned his attention to politics, after his success in reality TV, which is a step most people should avoid. Nevertheless, to him, it seemed logical to announce in 2015 that he would run for office. Sadly, he defeated Hillary Clinton.
On October 7, 2016, during the US presidential elections, The Washington Post published an article that contained a video of the 2005 Trump and Billy Bush interview. Apparently, they were having ‘an extremely lewd conversation about women’ before they started filming. As Trump explained to Bush how he seduced women, he mentioned that his strategy was to simply ‘...grab them by the pussy.’
(Nevertheless, Trump has been confident about his success in politics. Below is a quote from an interview with The New Yorker, after rumors spread of him running for office. When asked why people would vote for him he responded:)
"To be blunt, people would vote for me. They just would. Why? Maybe because I'm so good looking" (Trump in the New York Times, 19/9/1999)
And yet, the 45th US President does not seem to be despised by his supporters. It is clear that, in the White House, throughout history, scandals have been part of the US elections. Nevertheless, compared to the meek past of Bill Clinton's era (1992), we can see a clear difference. Clinton almost lost due to claims that he had had ‘an extramarital affair with former lounge singer’, Gennifer Flowers. Now, we have a ‘pussy- grabbing’ US President.
Another spectacle, relatable to the previous subject, is the famous scandal involving Ms. Stormy Daniels, the adult movie star who is suing the US President over a ‘hush agreement’. In the alleged agreement, Trump is supposed to have tried to silence Ms. Daniels, because he wants to cover up allegations that they had sexual intercourse in 2006. He is offering her money that came from the funds of his campaign. Also from a BBC report by Toby Luckhurst, from May 3, 2018, it is evident that the president’s supporters and voters seem to purposely ignore Trump's large negative impact, such as this case demonstrates.
In this vein, Katty Kay, a BBC World news presenter, reported ‘why Trump’s supporters will never abandon him’. One of her main arguments is that you should not focus on what they are for, but ‘it’s what they are against’, the 35 to 38% of Americans approving of Trump. Moreover, she says that ‘…what’s more relevant is that they are adamantly on the opposing side of a culture war that’s been brewing here since the 1980s’. Thus, she believes that ‘it doesn't really matter what Mr. Trump achieves or doesn't achieve’. Furthermore, according to Kay, ‘he defies the normal metrics for success because his voters don't so much support him for what he does as they adore him for what he’s against’.
As Kay summarizes,‘Mr. Trump is against the political establishment … and change….and he’s against the world…’. She thinks that establishment representatives, such as members of the Republican party, the media, political grandees like the Bushes and the Clintons, are the biggest enemies of Trump’s beliefs.
Furthermore, she says that any change that includes everything you have but fear losing is another issue for him. Her last point is that Trump is against the world, due to the fact that ‘the world’ has taken the jobs and apparently sent immigrants to compete with US laborers. Presumably, a person reading this, like you and I, would be shocked and even more appalled by Trump.
In a poll from 2017 by Quinnipiac University "80% of Republicans say they trust Mr. Trump more than the media" (Katty Kay, BBC World News)
The poll was published on August 23, 2017 - exactly eight months after he assumed office. No wonder President Trump gave himself an A+ grade for his first year in Office, during a Fox News live interview. He argues that ‘No one has been able to do what I’m able to do, I’ve done it despite the fact that I have a cloud hanging over my head that doesn’t exist’.
Precisely this is an issue. Not only Trump but also his supporters think that he is doing something great, even though he is not. The former point was proven in an interview Katty Kay held with an African-American man named Jerry who had voted for Trump. When asked if he would be disappointed if Mr. Trump failed to live up to the promises made during his campaign, Jerry simply replied that it didn’t even matter, since he considered those promises details. For Jerry, it was important to have a president that understood ‘what America should be like’.
This is not even the tip of the iceberg. I promised to address the fact that Trump has lied about his self-made status. Before doing so, I want to add that the day I am writing this article, November 4, is the exact day President Obama was elected, back in 2008. This ten-year anniversary makes me feel very nostalgic.
It should come as no surprise that earlier this week, November 2, 2018, The Daily Mail reported on claims being made that the prophecy about the coming of the Messiah is true. Apparently, in Israel, a snake wriggled out of the Western Wall, scaring a pigeon. According to Hebrew bloggers, this is a symbolic sign that ‘we are truly in the dangerous times that directly precede Mashiach (Messiah)’. What a scary idea. I am not religious, nevertheless, it crossed my mind while writing about Trump. The US President had been associated with Isreal on account of the massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue. On November 1, a day before the publication of the previous report, Trump received support from the Israeli Government. According to The New York Times, Trump’s new prime validator is Israel’s right-wing government.
‘We are truly in the dangerous times that directly precede Mashiach (Messiah)’
All of this validates the impression that the Trump support system is strong. Very strong. This is especially important to note, since in what follows I will address his lies about his self-made status. Despite the fact that he is a scam artist, he still receives validation from foreign governments.
Trump and his Father
On October 2, 2018, a report was published by The New York Times, the title of which shocked not only the US, but has had an international impact as well. It read ‘Special Investigation: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as he Reaped Riches From His Father’. According to the investigation launched, Trump’s statement that he is a self-made billionaire is not true, since he received at least 413 million dollars (in today’s money), through his father's real estate empire, by dodging taxes during the 1990s. What does this mean?
“I built what I built myself” (Trump on PBS, 1992)
In fact, it means that President Trump has been part of dubious tax schemes, including fraud, which increased the fortune he had inherited from his parents. This means that Trump was a millionaire by the age of 8. During his 40s and 50s, he received more than 5 million a year. Again, if I had the chance to speak to him personally, I would ask him where exactly the self-made claim fits in. He is as successful as Kylie Jenner being promoted as youngest self-made billionaire by Forbes.
Therefore, it is absolutely false for him to claim that he is a self-made man. He has received at least $60,7 million (or $140 million in today’s money). Either way, this is much more than the ‘small loan of 1 million dollars’ he claimed to have received. These findings sweep ‘away decades of misinformation and arrive at a clear understanding about the original source of Mr. Trump’s wealth - his father’. This also implies what type of man Trump is.
Trump the Man
Trump lies and will try to get his way no matter what. In fact, Trump has made 5,000 false or misleading claims since September 13, 2018. According to The Washington Post, the Fact Checker's database has analyzed, categorized and tracked every claim made by the President since taking office. That is a massive amount. Thus, if we ask at this very moment, ‘Trump, why do people love you?’, what reply would we get?
An article by Foreign Policy suggests that it doesn't matter that Trump lies or deceives. According to Mearsheimer's findings, ‘both democratic and authoritarian leaders routinely lie to their own publics’. He adds that ‘they are much more likely to lie to their own people than they are to each other’. Furthermore, he concludes that Trump's lies and deceptions prove that citizens follow their leaders regardless of whether or not their claims are true. This also corroborates that Trump is and stays successful with his own crowd.
(Below is a graph by Fact Checkers tracking Trump promises.)
Some protesters are willing to go as far as to make excuses for Trump. During a Trump rally in the outskirts of Fort Myers, Florida, reporters presented a woman with a short list of Trump's falsehoods. Nevertheless, the woman said that she was not interested in the question if or how many times Trump might lie.
Here again, we should ask ourselves what could be the possible solution for this misconception? Maybe ‘the Michael Moore Easy-to-Follow 10-Point Plan to Stop Trump’ might help. Or maybe analyzing what authoritarian leaders have in common could lead us to understand their success and consequently attempt to prevent further rises of tyrants within democracies.
For example, John Oliver tried to define the exact similarities between most common authoritarian leaders. He found three strong resemblances: projecting strengths, demonizing enemies, and dismantling institutions. Not only do Trump's actions resemble other authoritarian leaders', also his repeated public praise for Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Rodrigo Duterte put him in a questionable position. He sees them as role models and is noticeably highly influenced by them.
Trump's normalizing this behavior is most probably the radicalizing issue, allowing him to continuously act as if he is an authoritarian leader. However, his continued presence in office is doing the country some good as well.
The positive side of Trumpism
I choose to conclude this article on a positive note. I understand that after reading all of the issues that come with Trump and his Trumpism it is hard to digest it all, because the consequences might seem far-reaching and unbearable. But we have to deal with them. Therefore, I prefer to focus on the positive. Thus, my last part is dedicated to the positive aspects of Trumpism.
Through Trumpism, Democrats won the midterm elections. Through Trumpism, more voters were encouraged to vote. Through Trumpism, more and more young and black people in particular have felt motivated to engage in politics and vote during the midterm elections. Through Trumpism, people realized that change comes when they change.
We should thank Trump for the protests and the discussions he fuels through his endless lies and misleading information. It is a good thing to have a president that makes you fact-check everything.
Through Trumpism, the #metoo movement gained momentum and encouraged more women than ever to come forward and speak about violence and abuse. Through Trumpism, the importance of speaking out was recognized and reignited within the US.
This is why we have Trump to thank for the Democrats' return to the House and for the hope that hope will slowly be redistributed all over the USA.
Hope Coming back to the USA
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