Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Worse than Trump: The Trump supporters

After countless controversial statements composing what seemed like an eternity, most of the country, the media and even the Republican leadership has moved to denounce Donald Trump’s most recent “ban all Muslims” remark. Thus brings to full circle Trump’s long journey from being an irrelevant, hilarious “carnival barker” who says crazy things to a very real, very relevant, very frightening and very dangerous GOP frontrunner who says even crazier things. As Hillary Clinton puts it, he isn’t funny anymore. He’s dangerous.

But why? Why has Donald Trump only become dangerous now, and not earlier?

It’s not as if Trump only recently began spewing out racist, hateful, divisive, or utterly untrue statements — quite the opposite: That kind of rhetoric has dominated the Trump campaign literally since day one. Case in point: his now-overshadowed “Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals” spiel was from his June 2015 announcement speech. If we’re just looking at those, it is nonsensical to say that Trump was funny in the beginning, or more dangerous today. In a twisted way, the Trump campaign deserves some credit for being consistent — consistently bigoted, sure, but consistent. And so, at least in terms of rhetoric and policy, Trump is equally dangerous today as he was in June.

But something did change between when Trump first entered the race in June of 2015 and today: his level of support. Back when Trump announced his candidacy (and for a long time thereafter), pundits — even the most right wing ones (ones who are also most likely to support Trump today) — didn’t take him seriously. Even when Trump rose in the polls and became the GOP frontrunner, there were plenty of pundits who were convinced that the Trump campaign would collapse in a week or two. Now, the next week or two appears to be never. Trump is still firmly in the lead, and about half of all Americans consider him a serious candidate, up from a quarter at the beginning of his campaign.

That, I think, is what warrants Trump’s transition from “funny” to “dangerous” — not a change in the candidate’s ideas, but what has become increasingly clear to be a very firm and sizable backing for those ideas.

This begs the question: if Donald Trump is only dangerous when he has a lot of supporters, then is it really he who is dangerous, or is it his followers? After all, anybody can run for president and make crazy statements — need I remind everyone that Vermin Supreme is once again running this year, and will no doubt generate a bit of press coverage as his 2012 campaign did. Kanye’s hypothetical 2020 bid was in the same vein. But the coverage they get is not political — it’s just the media inviting the country to gawk at the novelty and ridiculousness of the statements, rather than reporting them as serious news.  At the end of the day, nobody worries about the fiscal consequences of Vermin Supreme buying every American a pony — because he won’t win the election, because he has no supporters, and the ridiculousness he invites along the way is usually presumed (not unreasonably) as nothing more than attention-seeking publicity stunts.

The Trump era started out precisely like this — covered as more of a hilarious sideshow than a serious political campaign. The Huffington Post even relegated Trump coverage to the entertainment section just to drive home the point. The pundits’ belief that Trump’s campaign would fizzle out on its own seems oddly ludicrous now, but is quite reasonable if one had worked under the assumption that the campaign was a publicity stunt, because the buzz generated by those does indeed go away on its own after a few brief weeks. And that should have been how the Trump campaign ended. Granted, Trump’s wealth and prior notoriety can both serve to draw out his two minutes of fame in this hypothetical situation, but sooner or later, the public’s attention runs short, and the spotlight shifts away from Trump and his poisonous words.

Of course, this isn’t what happened. The outlandish proposals pumped out by the Trump campaign that pundits assumed to be publicity stunts ended up attracting real and, as we can all unfortunately tell from Trump’s massive lead in the GOP polls, substantial support. Whether these were intended as unserious publicity stunts or a genuine effort to capture the support of the voters they did is beyond me. However, what is clear is that Trump supporters legitimized as serious politics a series of attention-garners that pundits and media from right and left alike were ready to dismiss as a joke. In other words, Trump would never have ascended to this realm of political relevancy without his now-supporters buying into his — oh, let’s call it a platform — to begin with.

So next time when Trump says something disagreeable, as he inevitably will, perhaps you will consider directing more of your anger at Trump supporters than the Donald himself, since they are what’s actually making the campaign’s continued existence possible.

Contact Terence Zhao at zhaoy ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

About Terence Zhao

Terence Zhao '19 originally hails from Beijing, China, before immigrating to the US and settling in Arcadia, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles. He is majoring in Urban Studies, and promotes the major with cult-like zeal. In his spare time, he likes to explore cities and make pointless maps.
  • wigglwagon

    “irrelevant” “dangerous” “hilarious”?

    Unfortunately, a whole lot of Americans are so successful that they are insulated from the reality of life.

    Economics is survival. America was the most powerful country in the world because we were the most prosperous country in the world. Today we are 18 TRILLION in debt, have at least 30 million law abiding American workers looking for jobs and I have heard another 70 million have quit looking. Are we still the most powerful country in the world?

    Only the really delusional believe that America can survive while spending 1- 2 BILLION more every day on imports than other countries spend on our exports. No country is rich enough to survive irrational business like that.

    Unfortunately, Trump is the only candidate in either party with enough sense(cents) to even talk about bringing the factories home and kicking out the illegal workers. Also, Trump is the only candidate in either party who is not on the payroll of the K Street lobbyists and big campaign donors.

  • dickshady2

    There are 100 million plus “carnival barkers” who feel the same thing that Trump is saying.
    The trouble with our country today is liberal colleges and universities have brain washed students to your thinking. Yesterday’s beatniks are today’s professors and college administrators. We have finally reached a point where people are really mad and fed up and “we ain’t gonna take it anymore.” We have had enough of D.C. politics and Hillary.

  • Knetter

    Ain’t happening, he’s not getting elected.
    I love how you blame colleges, like they are inherently liberal and it’s not the sum of the minds within. Maybe, just maybe, you view them as a liberal entity not because they are, but because there are educated people who are able to think for themselves, and realize that Orange Hitler 2.0 is not a viable candidate. You’re old, i get that, probably scared too. But don’t you fret your tiny little mind, this big bad world will be over soon for you. Like the dinosaurs; you’re a thing of the past.

  • rick

    F-you Stanford Daily… I won’t be clicking on anything you post anymore.

  • sq1learning

    Of course the successful vote more than any other group. Bernie Sanders is not a racist or bigot or charlatan or outright liar, and his entire campaign is about making the government work for main street and the working class.

    Trump has mentioned nothing about bringing factories home, except to decry a trade deal and urge that wages are too high. Illegal workers are consumers so throwing them out of the country likely severely hurts the economy.

    You will gain a better grip on all this as you move into high school next year.

  • Does it really matter

    Honestly that 30 mil and 70 mil are inflated numbers. We stopped being a powerful and prosperous country because we stopped innovation, we became greedy. Profit mattered more than well being of the employees and health of the company. Profit mattered more than new research. It just boggles your mind that When Bush took presidency we had a net surplus and but the end of his two terms we had a great collapse of financial system. He tried to infuse money into markets by printing them which sure did helped and taking from that precedence Obama continued that for first year of his presidency.

    If anyone talks about bringing factories home is a hogwash. Its not as simple as issuing an executive order. There are so many laws around it that its almost impossible for an entrepreneur to function. Even if they do, final product will cost more than the competition world wide. Although I can guarantee no one will be able to provide quality that American workers will be able to provide but not everyone pays for quality.

    As for kicking out illegals sounds good but hard thing to do. There have been large number of deportation under Obama than administration prior but effects of it on economy is debatable.

  • Brock

    Trump talks a big talk, but no specifics. How is he going to bring those jobs back from China?? He never says. Do you really think all the stuff people buy at the Dollar Store, made in China, can be produced here in North America for the same price??

  • Henry Rychlicki

    Let China run your future and put your kids in a sweat shop.

  • Durward

    Bernie Sanders is a communist and a Jew which makes him all you claim he is not.

  • Durward

    No educated/indoctrinated persons in this generation think for themselves or they’d never get through the BS education system which tolerates no opposition to it’s far left freaky views.
    A piece of paper does not equate to intelligence, very educated people got you 18 trillion in debt, lost your manufacturing base and allowed the White house to make laws and bypass/dictate to congress.
    All very educated idiots.
    Far as I can tell the higher the education the less conscience they have.

  • skullbreathe

    I agree Trump’s proposals aren’t serious as say Hillary’s promise to investigate UFO’s…..

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    good riddance

  • Bob

    Bernie is the only honest candidate and he will be the first Democratic candidate I vote for. I no longer care about the difference between conservative and liberal because they’re all corrupt. They’re just two sides of the same coin. From now on, I’m voting for whatever candidate stays true to him or herself regardless of party. Hell, I’ll take an honest Communist over a crony-capitalist like Rick Perry any day!

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    “..far as I can tell…” ain’t very far… say, an inch past your nose, ay delusional durwood ?
    You hate educated people because they’re smarter than you, and similar to the Nazis whose disposition towards education was massive bonfires of book burnings, you seek scapegoats for your ignorance..

  • maddogsfavsnpiks

    Knetter writes, (in reference to Trump the chump) “…he’s not getting elected”.
    * * * * *
    While we may share similar levels of disdain for the Donald, i disagree it’s a forgone conclusion that “Orange Hitler” won’t get elected here.
    In fact, as the article points out, the chump’s clearly got some major, and popular, electoral staying power, and just like Hitler in Germany in the late 1920s and early 30s, leading up to his ultimate election in 1933, the chump’s ascendance is at least in part due to the level of support he’s garnered from what Marx called the “lumpen proletariat” with their starry-eyed love affair and identification with the trappings of power, wealth and empire, all in a socio-economic environment of predatory capital. In a word, Fascism.
    But perhaps more importantly, there’s another major ingredient behind the power levers of fascism: It should be no secret, but unfortunately is, that many, if not most, of the big industrialist/capitalist leaders in Germany, AND in the US, supported, aided, and gave Hitler the finances and backing he needed to first get elected, and then to re-arm the military. This major economic support and backing, included, but was not limited to LockheedMartin, IBM, Ford Motors, Brown Brother’s Bank in the US, and Krupp, Thyssen, IG Farben, Siemens, Bosch, Wormann, Vogler, Hjalmar Schacht’s Reichsbank, banker Baron Kurt von Schroder, and the industrialist/banker Alfred Hugenberg’s, so-called Halzburg Front in Germany.
    * * * * *
    Meanwhile, back at the ranch and down on the farm, the Chump’s “Make Amerikkka Great Again” slogan is so eerily similar to the theme of Hitler’s harangues about Germany’s imagined right to hegemony, it sends chills down the spine and generally creeps out any normal human being with any sense of history.
    Trump, like Hitler, knows how to kindle the fires of racism and chauvinism, scape-goating “illegals”, all of whom are fleeing the impoverishing effects of US generated economic policies like NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO; or the “drug war” raging along the southern border, that’s killed over 100,000 souls thanks to this country’s ridiculous appetite, and failed prohibition, of pot, cocaine, etc; or it’s “the muslims” who have been dealing with US/European colonialism, and the theft of their resources (mainly oil) for the last 100 years.
    And this is not to mention the fact that many of the Mexicans fleeing here, are descendants of, or related to folks who lived here first, before the invading European/Amerikkkans massacred the original inhabitants, or herded them onto “reservations”, where they could be more easily corralled, coerced and exploited.
    * * * * *
    Meanwhile, Trump’s other slogans, like, “Build the wall”, “Invade Mexico”, “Nuke Iran”, “Ban the Muslims”.. are all well calculated attacks that attract the powerless to the power-lust of empire, and the devastated landscapes of domination/subjugation and ultimately, Orwellian control.
    Yes, the lump loves the trump.. and once he’s vanquished the other billionaires and wannabes on the repugnantcan/dumbocrat duopoly roster, then what ?
    I predict that, unless the voters wake up, which is unlikely, it won’t be pretty.

  • paper-guy

    “Back when Trump announced his candidacy (and for a long time thereafter), pundits — even the most right wing ones (ones who are also most likely to support Trump today) — didn’t take him seriously.”

    Based on what exactly did you come to this conclusion? Trump’s success is not based on the support of the far-right at all; in fact, he is garnering most his support from moderate, average Americans who do not know much about policy but are attracted to a self-assured candidate who is not afraid to say something outrageous. He is a populist candidate and his rise is a direct reaction to the slate of career politicians otherwise running.

    Now true right-wing Americans are the most unlikely to support Trump. He is nominally conservative and only chose to run as GOP as he identified it as the best platform to spew his nonsense. Trump, indeed, more closely resembles a liberal when it comes to actual policy, especially economic. He was actually a registered democrat just a decade earlier: pro-choice, pro-HILLARY. And people assume that because he is rich, he must be economically conservative — NOPE. His companies have a long history of supporting liberal policy and exploiting federal programs for money. He once proposed a one-time 15% tax on the rich.

  • Brock

    ????

  • Russell Smith

    How could you say that about Vermin? I take every American a pony and every mouth a toothbrush very seriously! It’s much more important to our future prosperity than the carnival sideshow of Trump/Sanders/Hilary.

  • Brock

    silly response…Trump has no answers to his bold talk!

  • Brock

    Ridiculous comment. Kids in Canada and anyone else get minimum wage of $10 per hour. Business people will not bring the factories from China to Canada and the USA when they have pay so much….You are a fucking idiot…