“I met the guy! I got his signature!”, I heard an enthusiastic voice yell, as I left the Trump rally yesterday. I turned around to see a man in a bright red Trump sweatshirt proudly waving his signed picture of Donald Trump for me to see.
In the short walk from the Concord High School to the parking lot, this Trump supporter managed to fill me in on what he had learned from phone banking for the Trump campaign. He explained to me that many Americans he talked to are fed up with politics and are worried about America’s future. I was not surprised by this. Many Americans feel cheated and are seeking a candidate that will ensure positive change, and Donald Trump spoke to these feelings at his rally.
Trump is capitalizing on fear, whether it be fear of job loss or fear of ISIS. He recognizes this fear and capitalized on it through the persuasive methods he employed in his speech. The majority of his speech consisted of oversimplified claims rather than an in depth discussion of the issues and policy solutions. For example, one of his main points was that China is taking our jobs, and we need to reclaim them. While he didn’t expand on any policy solutions for the lack of jobs in the American economy, other than taking jobs back from China, this simple statement elicited a roar of applause from the audience. It didn’t matter that Trump’s statements offered no substantive solution to the problem. He is not really running an issue oriented campaign. Rather, he speaks with pathos and authority, stirring up the emotions of fear and anger in the American people and then attempting to pacify these emotions with authoritarian statements such as, “We will build a wall!” Somehow, his authoritarian remarks seem to be convincing to those who have vested trust in him.
While I understand that Trump supporters are discontented with how the government is operating, it is disheartening to me that they would find comfort in the empty words that Trump offered in his speech yesterday. Trump failed to offer any policy solution that would help the American middle class, yet his supporters trust him when he proclaims, “We will make America great again!”
-Lindsay Mattei is a St. Olaf sophomore from Grand Rapids, MN majoring in economics. She is studying campaign politics and election cycles in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf program examining the 2016 presidential election