How is Trump a serious contender?

Let’s face it. Donald Trump is a serious contender to be the next President of the United States of America. I haven’t followed his campaign too closely, mainly because everything I’ve heard him say since he announced his candidacy in June has either baffled me or made me sick. It’s not even like I’ve clicked on any of the articles compiling his most absurd statements; I don’t need to. Every non-sequitur, every slur that has spilled out of his mouth into my personal space has arrived there effortlessly via Facebook posts or the local news on in the background. And it’s not like he gaffs every now and then like any other politician. Literally everything that comes out of his mouth seems problematic. Again, it all seems absurd to me, but that doesn’t change the fact that this thing could really happen. He’s been high in the polls all autumn and he could really become president. So what I’m here to do is take a step back, look at the situation objectively and ask the question: How is Donald Trump a serious contender for the presidency?

The immediate answer to that question is that people take Trump seriously. That may seem like something obvious to point out, but it needs to be reiterated. Trump’s following believes that he relates to them, that he can solve the problems our country faces. So, let’s break down his stance on three of the most pressing issues of the upcoming election.

Foreign Policy

This is usually the area Trump opponents point to as a weakness because he has no experience dealing with other countries politically. Foreign policy is extremely complex, and its outstanding subcategory right now is military action abroad. With the recent ISIS attacks in Paris, Beirut and various other places, counter-terrorism is a hot topic, one any serious aspiring Commander in Chief must be willing to discuss in detail. Here we see what Trump has to say on the matter:

Linked above is a two minute clip of an interview on CNN between Donald Trump and Anderson Cooper. First, Trump emphasizes that no one would be tougher on ISIS than him. Second, he states that the problem with ISIS isn’t our war to fight, and wishes we didn’t have to send troops over there. Though the two statements are contradictory, I can see why people would get behind them. Cooper goes on to ask him if he would send troops to Syria and other Middle East countries. Trump responds that no, he would just “bomb the hell” out of the ISIS-controlled oil fields, which would effectively cripple them economically. When asked if that would anger Iraq, he dismisses the question by asserting, “There is no Iraq.” His easy solution to the mass destruction of bombings is to send the top five oil companies in to quickly rebuild the wells. Later, in his second contradiction, he concedes that he would have to send troops to protect the reconstruction sites.

So the plan is to bomb the oil fields and then rebuild them before anyone gets mad? I’m no engineer or physicist, but maybe setting fire to millions of years’ worth of oil isn’t as simple as he makes it seem. My favorite part of the interview is when he elaborates on how he hates talking about this plan. He says that he shouldn’t have to talk about it, because doing so would give away his course of action if he gets elected. This is an argument a con man would use to fool a group of unsuspecting pubescents in a teenage movie. He goes on to expertly name drop Generals Patton and MacArthur, two names America loves to stand behind. He says neither of them ever talked about what they were going to do; they just did it. You’re more right than you think, Trump, because if you actually do bomb the oil fields in Iraq we are going to need World War Two leadership for the ensuing World War Three.

Seriously though, does this not seem like a half-baked idea to you? When you think about it, it is exactly the kind of half-baked idea your uncle would come up with on his fifth beer at the annual family cook out. There must be a lot of those uncles out there to account for Trump’s control of the polls.


Trump’s foreign policy sentiments bleed flawlessly into his stance on immigration. Of course he intends to keep the people that he wants to “bomb the hell out of” from coming into America. Maybe this consistency is what 30% of republican voters want to see in a president? But there is a glaring problem in this line of thought. Not every Syrian refugee and hopeful immigrant is part of ISIS, in fact very few of them are. And not every Syrian who will be affected by his intended bombings are part of ISIS. In fact, the majority aren’t. So instead of bombing the bad guys and keeping them out of the U.S., Trump will bomb the innocent and bar the innocent from safety. But this isn’t the first time he’s generalized entire populations…

Here we see CNN compiling Trump’s statements on Mexican, Latino and South American immigrants. Honestly, I couldn’t make it through the video. If you want a more entertaining presentation of his stance on immigration, watch the “They Took Our Jobs!” episode of South Park. He fear mongers with statements like “If we let in some, we could let in the rapists.” This incredibly paranoid stance on immigration has nothing to do with the American values that should determine our policies towards immigration. Our values are those of openness, that provide an opportunity for freedom and happiness. You know, the same values your uncle embraces by putting up that “Don’t tread on me” sticker on his truck. The same values that everyone who has ever come to America has embraced. This obviously excludes Native Americans, but that is an entirely different topic. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel threatened by immigrants and thus Trump is a serious contender.

Civil Rights

You can see where this is heading… With Trump’s disregard for the lives of refugees, what makes you think he would care about any other group of oppressed people?

In this clip we hear Trump talk with Chuck Todd from NBC’s Meet the Press about police brutality, although the term “police brutality” is not used once. It’s easy to see from this clip how Trump has so many supporters. Not because what he says is agreeable and makes sense, but because he gives the dismissive, safe answers with which most Americans are comfortable. Though he acknowledges that there is a crisis with black people being killed by white police officers, he never fully realizes the epidemic. Instead, in his classic non-sequitur style, he quickly shifts the topic to something completely unrelated, stating how the most pressing issue is power being taken from the police. Instead of validating the concerns Black Americans have about crimes being committed against them by police, Trump expresses concern for police jobs. He even says once “their [the police] jobs are being taken away from them.” You mean the ones killing innocent people?

Each time Trump mentions the plight Black Americans face, he immediately turns on the double talk and makes up a scenario in defense of police. In a country where the majority of people have no idea what it’s like to be profiled by police who can kill you and get off with little more than a slap on the hand, it’s no wonder Trump finds people to agree with his statements. It’s uncomfortable to force yourself to realize the rampant racism in the justice system. However, it is comfortable to support a system in which you are safe. Trump offers this comfort, and therefore is a contender for president.

But can he really relate?

Trump is prone to generalizing and reducing complex situations in order to provide simple, understandable and comfortable solutions. Perhaps this is his biggest strength, because it allows him to proclaim things like “blow up the old fields,” “don’t let the rapists in” and “give power back to the police.” These statements condemn things that people are not comfortable with and support the things with which they are, and though they offer no real solution, they make most feel like they can relate to his ideas. This is why he is a serious contender for the presidency.

I implore voters to look past the oversimplifications and ask yourself : Can Trump really relate to me as an American?


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Bradley Harrison is a senior at College of Charleston. After a long and painful stint as an engineering student at a university in Georgia which you probably have never heard of, he has decided to come back home to his native Charleston and study Spanish and Education. As a keen observer of pop culture, he loves art house cinema,, and the Ringer. FOH Army for life.

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