The Student Blog Post series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
The office of the President of the United States should be held by a respectable person with political experience that can communicate with tact and that respects our democratic institution. It is no secret that Donald Trump is not a typical presidential candidate, he has engaged in name calling during debates, been openly offensive towards Mexicans and Muslims and has accused the system of being rigged against him the entire election. However, in the final presidential debate, Trump took another step away from convention when he did not agree to concede the election if he loses. This statement may seem like another one of his antics or him speaking his mind, as his supporters say. What Trump is saying can, and already has, damaged democracy in the United States. By threatening to not concede if he loses and saying the system is rigged, Trump is threatening the legitimacy of our democracy. The effects of this are already visible as white supremacy groups are making threats of a race war on social media. Other citizens say there will be some type of revolution the New York Times reports if Trump is not elected. Donald Trump is a demagogue of the worst type. He tells his supporters what they want to hear, without putting forward any realistic plan for any of the issues he is addressing. Mr. Trump encourages violence at his rallies, asks his followers to police polling stations and uses fear to inspire his supporters. Trump has lost the support of many of his party members in Congress and is adding fuel to the fire of division throughout the country. Trump himself has never held public office, is not an expert on foreign policy, and does not seem to have the temperament to be a formal diplomat, so why would anyone nominate him for President?
One of the major findings in the Michigan Model is peoples strong attachment to party identification. The Michigan Model shows that people will follow their party identification blindly. This might give us a logical reason as to how Trump has been a formidable candidate in the presidential election. The Michigan Model found that people psychologically prioritize party identification, candidate characteristics, and then candidates stances on issues. When these are combined, the Michigan Model refers to these factors as as the funnel of causality. Michigan researchers found party identification to be the most influential factor. A criticism of this study is is that most Americans are not knowledgeable enough to complete the funnel of causality. This critique seems valid as Trump is running his campaign on things that are beyond the scope of the president alone (healthcare legislation, nuclear weapons policy, war) and would require amendments to our Constitution (banning Muslims). However, even with his unlikely policy proposal, people stay committed to their party and vote for that candidate anyway.
The major takeaway is that all citizens should be more informed and engaged in politics. If people voted on a regular basis and cared about politics perhaps we would have better presidential candidates.
Paul Gonzales is a senior at Cal Poly Pomona and enjoys learning, volunteering and plans for a long-term career in local government.