The word Phenomena has an interesting concept. Rummaging through the pages of Oxford English Dictionary, (OED, I find Phenomena to mean "A thing which appears, or which is perceived or observed. A particular (kind of) fact, occurrence, or change as perceived through the senses or known intellectually; esp. a fact or occurrence, the cause or explanation of which is in question." This definition prompts much of the subject of this post; indeed the support for the Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is a Phenomenon based on imagination, perceiving, ultimately the essence of that support is in question. So the post will be about ‘phenomenology’ the study of the theory of this particular phenomenon. I found out later the question, in this case, is not Trump as some people may believe but the changing American Society and the ‘question’ is embedded in refusal to change. Any one of his ilk will do.
American Society or to be exact White American Society gripped with fear. The Republican Party that has always stood for Law and Order, holding steadfastly to conservatism and traditionalist American principles has done its job far too well. It now finds itself being rejected by the non-white majority, mainly voting for the Democratic Party more amenable to societal changes, which will now be the dominating voice in the American political arena. Moreover, Trump has become the new ‘aisle’ that has traditionally divided the Senate but with a difference where Republicans find itself sub-divided as it has done before. “There were no longer two parties in the senate—there were three, and the two of these counted as Republican becoming more bitter against each other than against the common enemy across the aisle.” C. G. Bowers, (1918).
Trump is a demagogue espousing the fanciful cause of the people who are against most of those that are different. Hence he has attacked all those that do not agree with him or critical of policies. His oratory has alienated Women, Muslims, Hispanics, Gays & Lesbians, African Americans, Catholics, accusing the media of ganging up on him and believing the election rigged against him. To the point that in 19th October Las Vegas, during the last face to face debate, he demeaned the principles of Democracy totally averse to accept the verdict of the US Presidential Election on November 8th, 2016.
He is also an authoritarian which makes his popularity is even more puzzling. As a student of History, I inevitably turn to History for an explanation of this phenomenon, and in particular, I turn to Germany of 1933. At the time one of the most sophisticated and intellectual societies in the world turned freely, blindly and irrationally to an overwhelming support of a demagogue. Lead by a Socialist Nationalist leader who aroused enough pride and nationalist passion of the German Nation to drive them to ruin eventually. What attracted them, having survived the Great War of 1918 and the Hyperinflation that followed, was fear of uncertainty and the unknown and fear of change. Unconsciously perceiving a belief in a leadership no more that praying without theological consideration or driving while not giving a second’s thought how the engine works.
Likewise, and by all accounts, Trump is a political agitator who appeals to the passions and prejudices of the mob to obtain power or further his interests. His rhetoric further defines him as an unprincipled or factious popular orator who carries much of the cause for a dividing American society. An atavistic and a throwback to a political party formed in the United States in 1892 to represent the interests of the entire population embracing populist advocacy to public control and holding free institutions to account.
Hence we go forward to find out why White America is gripped with fear and flirting with Authoritarianism and is attracted to extreme and bizarre views. What is more absurd is that his popularity is across social and demographic divide – income, education and religiosity which usually any one of them can define a Republican candidate. Research has shown those who fear change and a desire for protection from change possess a “psychological profile…that is characterised by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders.” McWilliams Hence they seek an authoritarian figure for protection. The correlation in the support for Trump points in that direction and primarily citing immigration for playing a significant part in unbalancing the status-quo. What is happening though is that same group is driving a wedge in American Society. It is also polarising the GOP voters between these who hold orthodox views from those who are extremists. Research also “predicted a looming and dramatic transformation of American politics.” (Hetherington and Weiler). A development if need be to challenge threats with force, forming barricades against outsiders totally beyond the grain of traditional American welcome and belies the notion of America as a nation of immigrants.
Whether to propagate his vision to potential voters of such extreme views can upend American politics is hard to predict. One thing for sure that there is a section of the population that exist, admittedly not enough to seat Trump as the President of the United States and commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces, but the scars of intrinsic and indoctrinated ideologies he leaves behind would be difficult to heal. They will be to Hillary Clinton and those who follow to repair the damage left behind. What is worse is that what happens in America soon distils into Europe when already in Britain, France, and Germany where multiculturalism had supposedly taken roots, are crying foul of immigrants. The idea that a Presidential nominee could come out with “We’re going to be so vigilant we’re going to be so careful, we’re going to be so tough and so mean and so nasty” is akin to Fascism. With French Nationalist leader such as Marie Le Pain in France nearer home also stoking the fires, prophesizing on similar lines, we need to turn to the defunct Weimar Republic for instruction on how not to do it. Dump Trump!