Why these Northwestern students are voting for Trump


Illustration by Carly Schulman

Foreign policy, economic growth and patriotism are a few of reasons why these students support President Donald Trump.

Alex Perry, Reporter

This year, McCormick freshman Michael Richards said his mother’s job is on the ballot.

Deemed a non-essential business by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the taekwondo center she works for suffered during spring shutdowns, Richards said.

“My mom’s business is probably not going to make it through,” Richards said. “All these restaurants around us aren’t going to make it. It’s just very terrible.”

Richards said he is not confident in the way Democratic leaders handled the pandemic, especially with how small businesses that were deemed non-essential fell through the cracks. He is also a staunch believer in limited government, pro-life policies and limited taxation, which is why he said he will be voting for President Donald Trump this election.

Trump’s patriotism and unconventional background appeal to Richards. He said a leader who has pride in America is an important factor to him and he feels that former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden were too “doom and gloom” during their eight years in office.

“(Obama) was an amazing speaker, but I just feel like he didn’t do a good enough job in promoting patriotism and promoting optimism. And I guess I just assume that Biden will follow the same path,” Richards said.

McCormick junior Ryan Abbott, who did not disclose who he was voting for, said Trump supporters on campus focus on the president’s accomplishments.

Abbott, secretary of public relations for NU College Republicans, pointed to how Trump continued to expand the rising economy he inherited and how the economic bounceback from the initial shock of the pandemic is faster than experts predicted it to be. Abbott added that Trump followed through on his promise of withdrawal of a number of troops from the Middle East and how the Black unemployment rate is at a historic low.

“It’s stunning that the magnitude of these accomplishments isn’t being recognized,” Abbott said. “It’s acceptable completely to debate the merits of them and to consider how important they really are in the long run, but they aren’t really being discussed at all.”

One Weinberg sophomore, who preferred to remain anonymous, lives near Detroit, Mich. and saw the effects of Trump invoking the Defense Production Act. The act enabled factories in Detroit to produce masks and PPE.

The student said he appreciates how Trump wants to reopen the economy, as his mother lost her job due to the pandemic restrictions. Although he could not vote in the 2016 election, Trump caught his eye during the Republican primaries — namely because of his demeanor and pride in America.

“A lot of people like him because he has that aggressive side to him and he won’t let anyone or any foreign nation trample on America,” he said. “I am very America first and take care of your own citizens first.”

Political science Prof. Laurel Harbridge-Yong, one of the faculty fellows at the Institute for Policy Research, has studied polarization in her research. She said she observes Trump as a “president who sought to be president for his base, and not necessarily for the rest of the country.”

While Trump has not greatly impacted policy polarization, Harbridge-Yong says that his rhetoric has impacted “affective polarization,” which refers to the impressions members of groups have on the opposing side. She sees his name-calling — “low-energy Jeb” or “crazy Nancy Pelosi” — as increasing the prevalence of the us-versus-them mentality.

However, his brash personality is part of the reason why certain students support Trump. To them, Trump is the American Dream. Students like Richards, who align themselves “more with conservatism than Trumpism,” are standing behind him because “he stands for the Republican Party.”

“I truly believe that he wants what is right for the good of the country, he stands for benefiting everyone and he wants everybody to succeed and follow the right direction,” Richards said. “He’s an unapologetic defender of everything that I hold near and dear to my heart.”

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