It is clearly not my place to endorse or speak against any political candidate in my official capacity as the president of a public community college. Therefore, I will attempt to explore this topic without tipping my hand regarding Mr. Trump (but I doubt I will be able to accomplish that task).
This presidential race has been like no other in recent history. It appears that the normal “rules” of running for the top job in the country have been broken on many levels. While we have always experienced name calling, pointing out others’ flaws, and finding as much dirt as one can on other candidates, this year has brought us to a new low in the election antics.
Mr. Trump has called the other candidates stupid, fat, ugly, liars, incompetent and other direct and, seemingly, bullying names. He has repeatedly made statements that have had no factual basis. He has made fun of a reporter with disabilities, insulted women and made inflammatory comments about different races.
Yet, he polls as the number one Republican candidate. Other candidates would have likely been run out of the competition with such comments. So why is he so popular?
It seems to me that Mr. Trump is self-funding his campaign – not something many candidates could do. People like this; they see it as a means of being “his own man” and not beholding to any interest groups. Mr. Trump is also playing off of the terrible racism, anti-Muslim feeling in the country and need for many to point to “someone” to blame for everything that is going on in our world.
Sadly, this tactic has worked before in the history of the world. When someone can speak loud enough and provide the masses with a group of people to hate, they often become popular.
I think that most importantly, Mr. Trump is fanning the fires of frustration with the political establishment and its ineffectiveness in our country; particularly at the federal level.
Many in America believe that the politicians are so busy fighting each other that they have completely abandoned any concern for the general public and the issues faced by the people of this country. There is a growing sense of anger toward government and a sense that we need someone to “take back” our democracy and get something done.
Whether Mr. Trump is able to accomplish such a feat seems irrelevant; the public is angry and wants someone who has not been vested in the system.
Anger can be a powerful motivator, but not a productive one. At Fulton-Montgomery Community College, like other colleges, we need to teach our students to approach issues – and political candidates – in a measured and critical way. We need to teach them to research the issues and to rely on facts, not hyperbole, when forming an opinion. The only way to truly “take back” our government is with informed participation and voter turnout. Let’s hope our next election takes us in the right direction.
Dustin Swanger is president of FM.