As I watched the Super Tuesday election returns, I found myself being completely unsurprised by the results as they were coming in.
Mainly because the outcome was predicted for weeks, minus a few details, all the pundits were pretty spot on. Trump continues to win in spite of himself, his words and actions. He continues to win without any real substantive policy, and he continues to win big.
The normal suspects are supporting him, the middle-aged angry white male that has spent the last eight years screaming that President Obama is a Muslim. Tea Party windbags that fall in line with every election finally have a candidate that sounds just like them. Those supporters are expected, they fit the mold, and they certainly are the kind of supporters a candidate like Trump has to have. Mainly because they always vote.
What has been puzzling to me is why I continue to see so many young men, even first-time voters, supporting Donald Trump. Every rally the media finds groups of them wearing the “Make America Great Again” hats and announcing their complete loyalty to this man. I have been struggling to figure this one out; they aren’t the bow tie wearing prep young Republicans that are just doing what daddy told them, these kids are going full speed ahead on their own.
Generally speaking, the youth vote of the past has been much more ideological in its support. Goldwater, Paul, Obama, Sanders, are usually the type of candidates we see capture these voters. Someone with a different message than they normally hear, someone who speaks outside of the mainstream and, for the most part, has never been identified as one of the elite. That simply isn’t the case with Trump. He couldn’t be more elite, and while he may say things that aren’t considered mainstream anymore, his politics and rhetoric are decades old. So why is it that he can do so well with this demographic?
Economics– For the last decade the economy has had some major hurdles to clear. Young voters grew up during the Great Recession. Many saw their parents struggle to find jobs; they experienced first hand having to move out of a house that was being foreclosed on. They met many roadblocks coming out of college to find a decent job if they were even able to afford college. A lot of that left them looking for someone to blame, and when Trump hit the scene, he gave them that someone, immigrants. No longer was it about poor banking decisions and out of control spending, it was infiltrators that came only to do harm and steal. Donald Trump hit the right chord at the right moment in time, and he ignited a firestorm that could very well put him in the Oval Office.
Celebrity– Donald Trump first and foremost to the youth of today is a reality star. For years, he has had successful television programs and appeared in dozens of ads. We are living in a world that puts far more stock in being famous than being educated. The importance of fame and fortune can’t go unnoticed in this election. In a time where people are famous simply for being famous, we shouldn’t be surprised that our potential next president could just as well be hosting a celebrity game show. Winners and losers in this world of “reality” are determined by who can be the most conniving, cut-throat and ruthless and that model has now been firmly planted in our presidential election process.
Masculinity– Men in today’s world are in a serious transitional phase. Over the recent years, what it means to be a man and how we are supposed to behave has begun to transform. We have come to realize that many traits are no longer acceptable or admirable in men that at one time would have been considered both normal and required. Many have fought this change with all their might and are threatened by any evolution in masculinity. Trump, for some, harkens back to a time when supposedly “men were men” and spoke their mind. I am afraid all he really does is signal that it’s okay to be a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, asshole! Even more disheartening is that so many men have been hiding in the shadows waiting for someone like Trump to tell them it’s ok to act this way.
As troublesome as all of this may be, it is comforting to know that there are a great number of people who are opposed to Trump and his rhetoric. Many in his party are constantly trying to find new ways to defeat him, unsuccessfully so far, unfortunately. He has galvanized entire groups of people, many for him but even more against him. More Republicans than I have ever witnessed before are declaring they won’t support him if he is the nominee; that sentiment will most likely be put to the test in November.
We are left with this, if Trump wins the presidency, we will be slapped in the face to the realization of how much work needs to be done in America. That literally decades of progress and advancement have been nothing more than a smokescreen for what truly lies at the heart of this nation.
However, if he is ultimately defeated, it may be one of the final hurdles this country has to clear to begin moving into the modern age once and for all. Ultimately, the young voters could be a huge factor in this election, what happens from that point forward will be on all of us good or bad.
It is passed the time we all, young and old, take a long look in the mirror and ask “how did we get here?”
Photo: Flickr/ Adam Fagen