A big emphasis that came through loud and clear from the Democratic National Convention was a consistent critique of Donald Trump’s scare-mongering and bleak vision of current-day America.
While repudiating Trump’s attempts to frighten people into voting for him as the one person who can fix America is important, Hillary Clinton needs to be careful not to make him out to be a near-mythical boogeyman who exists in a vacuum. While Trump is, in fact, trying to utilize the fear and anxiety of Americans, he isn’t the sole source of it. The apprehensions that he is exploiting are very real and have real-world catalysts.
While Bernie Sanders was running, some people noted how there was a parallel between his campaign and Trump’s – they were both positioned as the “outsider” whose followers were angry and disillusioned with the “politics as usual” that they have been forced to expect from America’s political machine, as well as feeling shafted by the 1%. There was some validity to the comparison, although Sanders and Trump couldn’t possibly be more different on myriad issues. Not to mention the key difference that Bernie Sanders is not a complete and utter asshole. But, I digress…
But the point is that many of the people Trump is appealing to are people that have faced the decimation of the middle class, while corporate America thrives, and who are justifiably worried about their job outlook and prospects. They see politicians as being bought-and-sold, without their interests in mind, while in contrast, Trump appears as though he can’t be bought. They see a GOP establishment that for years has asked them to settle for what they perceive as Republican-In-Name-Only (RINO) candidates like McCain and Romney, who lost, and a party elite that has failed to deliver on both social issues, as they see minorities gaining ground on things like gay marriage, as well as the economy as their incomes have stagnated. They are also scared by the frequent news feed of terror attacks around the globe. That fear is real and tangible. Sure, Trump may exacerbate it, but it was there before him and needs to be addressed.
There are many Trump supporters who will never, ever vote for Clinton for whatever reason. There are a ton of die-hard racists, misogynists and Islamophobes whose minds have been subverted by Fox News and the right-wing media machine for years. Those people are a lost cause. What I’m referring to are the people who are open to voting for Clinton, but who (in some ways justifiably) see her as a status-quo, “business as usual” candidate. If Bernie’s popularity showed us anything, it’s that millions of Americans are truly fed up with what has been coming out of Washington for decades. They just aren’t buying it anymore. Clinton needs to work on somehow convincing those voters that she hears their anxieties, that she sees their anger, and that she feels their apprehension about the issues that affect their daily lives. She needs to remember that Trump is merely a symptom of a larger problem, and she should work to try to validate the emotions of the voting populace rather than give off the impression that once Trump is out of the picture, everything will be rosy and hopeful. Because it won’t.
Hillary Clinton photo credit: By lorie shaull (source) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons