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Trejos: Stop laughing at Trump

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Trejos: Stop laughing at Trump

Jose Trejos, Columnist

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This Wednesday, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president when his final opponent, John Kasich, dropped out. This news is simply tragic for people like myself, who generally support the Republican Party but are just disgusted by Trump’s shameless ignorance and demagoguery. Certainly, his victory will probably have very negative repercussions on the future of American politics.

Some people, especially liberals, try to find a silver lining in this development by claiming that Trump will certainly lose against Hillary Clinton, so at least the White House will not fall into the hands of a lunatic. A recent column in The Daily even went as far as to suggest Democrats should root for Mr. Trump because his nomination would guarantee a Democratic victory. The reasoning behind this confidence is relatively easy to understand: matchup polling has Clinton a solid seven points ahead of Trump and he has a hilariously high unfavorability rating of as much as around 70 percent. It may seem hard to imagine a candidate so universally despised going on to win the White House.

However, this line of reasoning is quite naive. Trump has a clear path to win the presidency stealing the Sanders coalition. Many people who do not follow politics may be surprised to see Sanders supporters described as a potential Trump demographic, since the stereotypical supporter is a college student not majoring in economics. However, Trump himself has said he plans to try to win over Sanders supporters as a key strategy against Clinton. Ideologically, they are quite similar candidates. Both of these candidates are isolationist candidates that have shamelessly perpetuated the unscientific idea that free trade hurts the US economy, largely in order to obtain votes from unskilled blue-collar workers. Both of these candidates have propagated the idea that the US government is “bought” by politicians and marketed themselves as the only honest candidates in the race. Both of these candidates demonstrate a ruthless ability to promise programs that are objectively completely impossible, such as single-payer health care systems without rationing and multitrillion-dollar deficits or great border walls that will be paid for by Mexico. The many blue-collar workers, anti-establishment independents and gullible people that have joined the Sanders campaign will probably find Trump’s platform to be very appealing.

I remember hanging out with some friends watching the Super Tuesday results back in March, back when primaries were enough of a novelty to be interesting. One of my friends is not very political, and we were excited to show him Trump’s presumably hilarious speech. What we saw instead was a presidential and dignified speaker. Many observers have noticed this trend: Whenever Trump feels he is winning, he stops sounding crazy. In national politics, there is the concept of a shift to the center, in which a candidate acts like an extremist to win their primary, then attempts to sound reasonable to win the general election. Trump, who seems to be running with absolutely no ideals behind him except a Machiavellian desire to win at any cost, would likely manifest this behavior to an extreme. I’m fairly certain that, after he wins the nomination, calls for Great Walls and Muslim immigration bans will become rather rare. Instead, Trump will likely shift to more widely marketable pitches: unrealistic promises in the style of Bernie Sanders, ad hominems against “Crooked Hillary,” populist drivel against corporations and the rich and mantras about how successful and awesome he is. The average person does not follow politics all that closely and would probably find it easy to forget the outrageous statements Mr. Trump has made.

Then there is his opponent. Clinton is, quite simply, the best opponent anyone could realistically ask for. Her unfavorability rating is an amazingly high 55 percent, which, while lower than Trump’s, still makes her a historically despised nominee. The ongoing FBI investigation into her emails feeds her reputation of untrustworthiness and may even lead to an indictment. She is considered a member of the establishment in an anti-establishment year. Worst of all is the fact that, quite simply, nobody likes her; it is oft-noted that there is almost no enthusiasm among her followers, and her frequent flip-flopping on different issues have fed the perception that she is extremely untrustworthy and corrupt.

So will Trump win the election? Probably not, if you ask me. But it is far from impossible. Trump got this far largely because no one took him seriously early enough to stop him. How could they? The man is a clown. But if you spend this election year laughing at him or sulking with the Bernie or bust lunatics, you will see how funny it really is to have Trump as president of the United States.

Jose Trejos is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at josetrejos2019@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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