Policies are the building blocks that run our government. Without policies we would not have standards for food safety or fire codes, and essentially there would be anarchy because the government exists purely to make and enforce policy. On Monday, our group attended a rally for Donald Trump. With the media attention he has been receiving lately, I considered myself to have a healthy understanding of Donald Trump and his ideas about the world prior to attending the event, but I still did my best to keep an open mind. We sat down in a large gym with many other people, and earlier than expected, Trump himself walked out onto the stage to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger" and a chorus of applause. As he spoke, I began to notice a pattern. The phrases, "I'm going to" and "we're going to" began almost every single sentence. Mr. Trump made several promises with these phrases for things he was going to do to "make America great again." Some of these promises did not even seem incredibly outrageous or difficult to accomplish. The problem with these promises was that they were the furthest thing from substantive. They were promises that were not grounded in policy and that Trump had no plan for in terms of actual implementation. It was incredibly disheartening to me to see the people in the crowd who were cheering for him and hanging onto his every word. It is perfectly acceptable to like what a candidate says and it is equally as acceptable to have your own opinions. The problem lies in the presentation. When a candidate presents his or her ideas with a strong factual basis and a clear plan for how they are going to make their ideas into actual policies, I am much more willing to take them seriously and to listen to their ideas, whether or not I agree with everything they are saying.
Listening to Trump speak, I was incredibly frustrated with the fact that he kept disappointing in regards to the substance in his speech. Even more frustrating was the reaction of the community members who were his obvious supporters in the audience. I so badly wanted to understand why none of his supporters seemed as frustrated with him as I was. It is not acceptable for me to walk into a job interview and say, "I am a hard worker, trust me," and then leave it at that. If I were to say a phrase like that and not be able to back it up with evidence of how I have been a hard worker in the past and what I was going to do in order to be a hard worker in the future, I most likely would not get the job. Why is Donald Trump allowed to do the same things in what are essentially job interviews for President of the United States? Why do his supporters seem unconcerned with the fact that he is not giving any evidence of how he will accomplish all of the things he is promising? They should be acting like the employers they are and ask Trump to provide evidence that gives a firm substantive grounding to his ideas.
I believe that the fact that people are so willing to accept this type campaign says something more about where politics have gone wrong than about the people who are supporting Trump. People have less trust in politics than ever before and they also heavily mistrust politicians themselves. The only justification Donald Trump has for his arguments is that he is trustworthy. The reason why people are so turned on by this notion is the idea of trust. Trust is one of the last things you hear about in politics. The media often reports on stories of the untrustworthy things politicians have done, and often there just seems to be so much arguing going on in Washington that nothing gets done. This gets wearing on the average American citizen, even those of us who know a lot about the process. Therefore when someone comes onto the scene who has completely funded his own campaign without any corporate donations and seems trustworthy, that is very appealing to voters. This is a big part of why both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been doing so well in the current presidential race, and I think it should be seen as a wake-up call to other United States politicians.
~Aleah Maas is a St. Olaf sophomore from Delafield, WI majoring in Political Science. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the 2016 presidential primary elections.