I’d just like to say that Donald Trump, by himself, doesn’t deserve all the publicity he’s getting, negative or otherwise. Our favourite rich (spoiled) billionaire uses offensive, ignorant comments to gain attention, and while it might outrage the public enough for him to create a trending topic on social media, it is highly unlikely that he would actually become a legitimate presidential candidate. So, on that point, we don’t really need to get so wrapped up with the fact someone so explosive has the gall to think he can run a country.
What deserves attention is the popularity he’s gotten.
Donald Trump is still (after what, two or three months?) polled to be the most popular Republican candidate, even after he had called Mexicans rapists, said John McCain wasn’t a war hero, after political commentator after commentator repeated that eventually the novelty of it all would wear thin. In fact, his popularity has been increasing. According to Monmouth, Trump’s favourability is up to 52%, and his unfavorability actually dropped to 35%.
So… does this mean that Americans are now all sexist immature white rich men? Of course not. Trump’s popularity points to a much deeper problem ingrained in America’s political system and society.
Trump represents the portion of Americans who are disillusioned by the Republican party’s behavior. Trump appeals to those people who believe that Democrats are too elitist, who believe that Republicans have not kept their promises, especially after a Republican majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate failed to create any change in government.
It seems that a more apathetic, cynical society (at least in regard to our politics) seems to be a characteristic of this decade. We seem to expect some form of government corruption or cover-up: look at the rather subdued reaction in America to the NSA PRISM, the huge amount of apocalyptic fiction dedicated at least partially to the inability of governments to properly deal with crises (bureaucracy and political incompetence being large factors on why this happens.) There was even a Youtube video where, when a group of kids under 15 were questioned about government, many responded that they expected government officials to lie. True, these are not really comprehensive surveys about what the general population thinks or feels, but they are instances that are becoming increasingly common in our culture.
Let’s take a look at the other Republican candidates. After Trump, popular candidates are Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and Carly Fiorina, a former business executive. None of them has ever held an elected officer before. Texas senator Ted Cruz went on record to say that the Republican party was ineffective to boost his own platform, and judging by his ratings, it’s worked. The most noticeable trending candidate on social media also seems to be “Deez Nuts,” who is a fifteen-year-old boy who signed up to (a) show the clear problems of a system that could actually allow a fifteen year old to become a ballot candidate (despite it being against the law) and (b) who criticized and was unhappy, at the very least uncertain, about the rocky state of the American political system.
Maybe we should rethink our own ideas on how politics and society interact with each other in our contemporary world. We rage against authority, sometimes to the point where it’s almost expected by our society of free-thinkers. And maybe our politics are changing to reflect that part of us, unsatisfied, hungry, rebellious, ready to say the things we want to say, screw other people’s opinions.
I’m not quite sure what to think of that.