Why are Americans supporting Trump?

Home of the Brave. Photo Credit: Louis
Home of the Brave. Photo Credit: Louis

American politics and the race for the Presidency, where to begin? At times it seems like a circus, a performance, a show. That is why, when I first heard  DonaldTrump was running for President, I paid it no attention. This was just a man who loved to perform, who wanted a bigger stage and had more money than sense to spend on his, what I assumed would be a short lived, campaign. Everyone knew this was the man who owned the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA beauty pageants. The man who had cameo’s in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and the man, more notably, whose businesses declared bankruptcy five times between 1991 and 2014. Even if Trump had the money to waste on a campaign, no one in their right-mind would vote for this man, right?

Donald Trump- Photo credit: Jamelle Boule
Donald Trump- Photo credit: Jamelle Boule

Now, I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I know little to nothing about how the U.S Presidential Nomination Process works. In fact, to write this article I had to Google it, and still only grasp the bare minimum of the difference between a caucus and a primary and how the delegate process works. But, from my minimal research I gleaned that for a Republican candidate, to win their party’s nomination for presidency, they must secure at least 1,237 out of 2,472 delegates. The New York Times currently reports that Trump has been awarded 462 delegates so far, with the next contender Senator Ted Cruz, trailing Trump at 358 delegates. This means not only does Trump somehow miraculously have support, but he currently has the largest chance of receiving the Republican presidential nomination. How can this be?

Following the first primaries of the 2016 election, Matthew C. MacWilliams, a PhD Candidate at the University of Massachusetts, conducted a survey to find the link between what makes different Americans support Trump? The answer: Authority. “An inclination towards authoritarianism is a major predictor of people’s likelihood of voting for Donald Trump in a way that is not for any of the other GOP candidates.”

Home of the Brave. Photo Credit: Louis
Home of the Brave. Photo Credit: Louis

In an article MacWilliams published on politico.com in January 16, he highlights the findings of a poll which he conducted by sampling 1,800 registered voters across America and the political spectrum, noting that “Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by the fear of terrorism.” MacWilliams further defines authoritarians as those who “obey”; “They rally to follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened.” His survey asked four questions pertaining to child-rearing; “whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious.” His results found that respondents who picked the first option in these questions were strongly authoritarian, with Trump being the only candidate, out of Republicans and Democrats, whose support among authoritarians was “statistically significant.”

Washington D.C Photo Credit: Stephen Melkisethian
Washington D.C Photo Credit: Stephen Melkisethian

Trump plays on the fears of the people. And it is understandable that during a time of social unease where fear is high, that people may look for a hero, a leader. But as a teacher of mine once said “Empty vessels make the most noise.” and his is no more so true than in the case of Trump and his racist and discriminatory policies. The world can only sit, watch and wait now in the hopes that supporters of Trump in America realise that they are more than their fears, that the freedoms of religion and expression set out in the First Amendment of the US Constitution are greater protection to the security and peace of America than a border wall could ever be.