The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
2016 is shaping up to be one of the most entertaining and important elections in recent American history. The incoming president will have to inherit the current issues plaguing the nation. One of the most important issues when it comes to voters is the current struggle to defend the country against terrorist groups such as ISIS and eliminate such groups completely. While the current administration has taken an approach that does not involve the deployment of troops abroad, candidates of the Republican party have taken things to the extreme. The G.O.P. front-runners including Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump all have expressed their fears and concerns over such terrorist groups. However, they have done so in a way that discriminates against the millions of Muslim Americans that are simply trying to live peaceful lives.
According to the book The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion by John Zaller, people’s attitudes and ideas about politics are created by his RAS model. His model explains that information is obtained from media and politicians, and the most recent information is stored and used to create our own opinions. In the last several months, candidates like Donald Trump have spewed racist and insensitive messages about minorities including Muslims but also Mexicans. When people of Caucasian or affluent backgrounds hear this sort of rhetoric on television or other forms of media, it might have the potential to instill fear in them. All people have fear about what they do not understand, and candidates such as Donald Trump use fear mongering to take advantage of people.
Much like Adolf Hitler during the late 1930s, Donald Trump is using a minority group as a scapegoat and instilling fear and hate into right wing supporters. While Trump’s racist and insensitive remarks has been fodder for social media and television news, Donald Trump has managed to maintain a steady lead over other Republican frontrunners. In a recent speech Trump gave, he stated that the United States should halt all Muslims from entering the country. Trump said this to a rousing ovation, but was quickly denounced by members of both the Democratic and Republican Party following the speech. In a statement on December 8, 2015, White House Secretary Josh Earnest said at a press conference that, “What Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president”. Earnest stated that the president’s job was to protect the ideals and freedoms given by the United States Constitution.
Donald Trump has become an anomaly in American politics, and one that seems to not be going away any time soon. His ability to say whatever he wants and remain ahead in the polls is an eye opening revelation for Americans as it has shown the underlying racism of the Republican Party. It has also shown Trump’s ability to manipulate and benefit from this not always underlying racism. As the election grows near, it will be interesting to see how the GOP counters this sort of rhetoric. History has shown that political polarization is on the rise, with candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump who are on vastly opposite sides of the political spectrum. As time goes on and as both parties become more extreme, I believe we can expect more of the type rhetoric that Donald Trump has spewed in recent months. Only time will tell if Donald Trump’s political luck is running out, and if so which candidate will finally take the reigns for the Republic Party.
Mitchell Loera is a senior at Cal Poly Pomona who studies political science. He likes staying informed on politics, watching baseball, piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.