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The political aspect of the US took a turn after the 2016 presidential election when Donald Trump was announced the winner, and we are still talking about it. Whether that turn has, is, and will be good or bad continues to be debated. Instead of the views being split between the usual Republican and Democratic parties, it seems to have shifted into Trump supporters and anti-Trump supporters. The majority of Trump's supporters are Republican, but not necessarily all of them, as not all liberals have chosen to be anti-supporters. So what is it about President Trump that Americans do or don't approve of?
First, let us take a look at the 2016 election results between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Both candidates are now in their 70s and call New York their home state. Trump's running mate was the infamous Mike Pence, while Clinton's was Tim Kaine, also well-known but not as talked about. In comparison to 129.2 million voters in 2012, a staggering 137.5 million Americans voted in the 2016 election, where Clinton won the popular vote by over two million: Clinton ended with 65,844,610 popular votes while Trump acquired 62,979,636 among 30 states. This is where many Americans, specifically Democrats, were angered; however, Trump won the electoral votes 304 to 227, and for reasons I myself don't understand, those votes are more powerful than the People's.
With Trump being elected, questions, and concerns started rising about his lack of political and military experience. He is one of only two US presidents with no experience in either of these areas, the other being Herbert Hoover dating back to The Great Depression. In 2008, Republicans argued that Barrack Obama was too inexperienced for presidency even though he previously served as a senator for 12 years. From 1789 to 2016, the presidential average was 13 years in public office and 5.6 years military service when they came into the White House. It's not to be said, though, that individuals lacking experience are not capable of doing the job. Abraham Lincoln is still considered one of the greatest presidents in US history with little political experience, while James Buchanan ranks as the worst president despite his political strengths. Trump's lack of know-how in these areas may feel like an indicator of incapability, but history shows the opposite is possible on either side.
The amount of unwavering support from Trump voters has astonished a lot of people, myself included. Why are these Americans so faithful to him? What is it about Trump that draws them in? A recent analysis compiled by psychologist and UC Santa Cruz professor, Thomas Pettigrew, identified five key traits of Trump supporters.
- Authoritarian Peronality Syndrome—a state of mind that is characterized by the belief in total and complete obedience to one's authority. Those who present with this syndrome can show aggressive tendencies towards those among groups that differ from their own, and submissiveness to authority. The vocabulary Trump uses in most of his speeches can draw these individuals in, with words and phrases such as "losers" and "complete disasters."
- Social Dominance Orientation (SDO)—this can be related to Authoritarian Personality Syndrome and refers to people who have a preference for social hierarchy of groups with a structure where the higher-status classes have dominance over lower-status ones.
- Prejudice—This uses strategies that appeal to bigotry, using terms such as "dog whistles." Trump also uses blanket terms for Muslims, calling them "dangerous," and Mexican immigrants are "rapists" and "murderers." Vocabulary like this can appeal to strict right-winged individuals who tend to inhibit racial and prejudicial beliefs.
- Intergroup Contact—this refers to people having contact with members of groups outside of their own. A 2016 study found that "the racial and ethnic isolation of whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support" because they do not associate themselves with other groups on a regular basis.
- Relative Deprivation—lastly, referring to the experience of being deprived of something that one feels they are entitled to, such as jobs that are being taken by immigrants or people of different ethnicity. In an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, an estimated median annual income of $72,000 was found of Trump supporters. This trait is common in swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
All that being said, it's unquestionable that others who support Trump chose so for different reasons than the traits found in the analysis. It does shed some light, however, on the mainstream Trump supporters that we tend to hear about in the media.
In another poll, much smaller than the previous analysis, Harvard-Harris found that out of 1,347 Trump voters, 36 percent felt that the country is headed in the right direction. The poll consists of a variety of voters: men and women, young adults and seniors, whites, Hispanics and African-Americans, and those with and without college degrees. There's no doubt that plenty of evidence in this poll and others show Trump's style, behavior, ideology, class status, and management are aspects leading to more popularity. But if the people of the US sense a growing feeling of general positivity from Trump's actions, the trend may continue and accumulate higher numbers.
Now, it's only fair to take some views and words from people who are much farther down the scale of political popularity and financial class, as those are the ones who are likely to suffer from the changes that Trump has the power to carry out. We have gone over why people support him and the general population that fits the description, but what about the individuals who are against all his beliefs and morals? What about the ones who feel personally attacked by his inconsiderate and uneducated rants? I personally have one strong stance that I refuse to falter on because of his status and what others say about "people like me." President Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct more times than we can count on our own two hands, yet nothing has ever come of these accusations. As someone who has experienced sexual assault firsthand, I do not understand how he can pay away these women, simply make these incidents disappear with a check, or worse, threats.
There have been 22 women who have publicly come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump. During his campaign, he paid nearly $300,000 to two women to prevent rumors from tarnishing his reputation, yet he has stated in many interviews that all these women are liars and they "got paid a lot of money to make up stories" about him. There has been no evidence found that goes to say these 22 women were not speaking the truth. Even among all the allegations, Trump continues to brag about getting 52 percent of women's votes in the election, but the reality is that he only won 52 percent of white women's votes and lost among all nonwhite women.
A friend and fellow democrat, Meagan Hamzoui stated, "I didn't vote for Trump because he's a complete womanizer. His sexual misconduct should be enough to disqualify him as a presidential candidate. The fact that he has so many sexual assault cases against him is disturbing." And she's not wrong, but when a white man with money and power sees an opportunity to falsify claims that give him a bad name, he will do it.
Not only is Trump guilty of sexual assault, he has also been called a racist bigot with an uneven temper. A whopping 70 percent of Americans feel that he is ill-tempered while only 43 percent feel that he is a strong leader. On top of that, only 36 percent feel that he shows empathy and 34 percent feel that he is trustworthy. When it comes to his performance as president and how he handles his job, 47 percent of men disapprove while 63 percent of women disapprove, with an overall disapproval rating of 55 percent.
I do not understand how or why people choose to support a man who wants to take privileges away from human beings or divide the country and spread hate and lies, but I am not one to judge them based only on their political views. Donald Trump is the president of the US and it seems his support system will slowly continue to grow as we approach the 2020 election.