Explaining America’s love affair with Donald Trump

Nicholas Nowak

The controversial announcement of Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 presidential election certainly provoked mixed reactions. Amidst comments accusing immigrants from Mexico as “rapists” and “bringing crime, and drugs,” business organizations such as NBC, Univision and NASCAR cut their ties with  Trump.

Despite additional un-presidential comments in the debates, interviews and speeches that have followed, Trump’s favorability with Republican voters continues to rise. Recent polls suggest 24 percent of Republican voters view him favorably, far more than any other candidate (Jeb Bush is 2nd place with a 13 percent favorability rating) according to a new national CNN/ORC poll.

Trump’s sudden surge in popularity is nothing short of a phenomenon. Despite controversial, racist remarks directed toward entire countries and ethnic groups, and even describing some women as “disgusting animals,” Republican voters are drawn to his attitude and charisma.

In an interview with the New York Times, Republican voter Kristine F. Perez describes Trump as “refreshing, and he says everything that all of us want to say; and because we have to be politically correct, we can’t say it!”  In the same interview, independent voter Peter Finocchario remarked about Trump:  “He says what all the other candidates don’t have the guts to say.”

This seems to be a driving influence on what inspires voters to support Trump. While Hillary Clinton has received recent press for using private email servers and other clandestine forms of communication, Trump has nothing to hide. In the recent Fox News Republican Debate, Trump proudly admitted that he would not concede defeat and drop out of the race and support the presidential nominee, widely viewed as a very important tradition in the presidential elections.

It’s no secret that Trump’s approach to his candidacy is fairly unorthodox. In addition, he is fiercely patriotic, promises to fund social security and to be the greatest  “jobs president” in history. Far more important to his success, however, is that he revels in the opportunity to break the rules and speaks his mind. Voters are interpreting his complete disdain for political correctness as honesty, and that’s hardly the case—this is what I believe to be the great tragedy for the Republican Party and voters.

Trump’s most provocative or persuasive statements tend to be completely false, especially pertaining to immigration, one of his key platforms. His accusatory comments toward the Mexican government encouraging “the bad ones” (immigrants with the intent to deal drugs and commit sexual crimes) lack a single shred of evidence. When asked about where he heard about the encouragement of the Mexican government of potential illegal immigrants to cross the border, Trump cited conversations with “border patrol people.” Rather, immigration to the United States is governed by economic factors, not crime.

His claim on the amount of illegal immigrants already here, 30 million, is an egregious inflation. It’s a widely accepted consensus that there are approximately 11-12 million illegal immigrants in this country, which has remained consistent for years. Trump’s outrageously false claims do not stop with immigration. He has even claimed that our GDP is “below zero,” and that none of Barack Obama’s classmates even remember him.

In short, Donald Trump’s appeal largely surrounds his supposed honesty and outspoken attitude. However, his campaign is largely void of any truth, and the platform he runs on consists hardly more than provocative sound bites, misguided bigotry and his status as a celebrity.

His popularity in the polls will only serve to divide the Republican Party between those who are naturally attracted to his style of campaigning and those who have something meaningful to say. Meanwhile, the Democrats are becoming considerably more united in their choices and direction.  Trump might be a bad  candidate for the presidency, but he is even worse for the Republican Party.