Political competition (the Trump effect)

Meming with Nick

Nick Ulrich, Columnist

Donald Trump was never treated as a favorite, or even as an equal during the 2016 election. Most people considered him to be out from the beginning, but eventually he pushed his way past all the other Republican candidates (most of whom were boring old white guys who never stood a chance anyway) and eventually defeated Hillary. This shocked everyone, myself included, and I was quick to publish my opinion that we should give Trump a chance, an opinion I regret more than any other one I’ve had published in this paper.

But why did Trump win? Was it his incredibly brilliant policies or his sophisticated demeanor which symbolized his intelligence? No, not exactly. Was it that people were finally able to somewhat identify with someone in politics, unlike the many Harvard and Yale lawyers who came before him? That probably had something to do with it.

But the biggest problem has nothing to do with politics and it has nothing to do with how we should be electing our leaders. Our political environment has turned from a battlefield of ideas to a battlefield of just…battles. Instead of how it might have been some 10 or 20 years ago (long before I knew anything about politics), today in politics, many voters care much less about finding the right person and more about winning.

When Trump won the election in 2016, everyone who voted for him won with him. And Hillary lost, by the way, in case your Uncle has told you that enough. But this mindset is what drives Trump voters. They don’t care that he won’t release his tax returns because HE WON. They don’t care that he makes fun of the mentally disabled because HE WON. And they don’t care when he engages in impeachable conduct because, you guessed it, HE still WON. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump was impeached and voted president within the year. Impeachment doesn’t actually mean anything to these people, it’s just a way for Democrats to pretend they didn’t lose.

People think Trump is an idiot, but he has played his followers like a fiddle. Everything is calculated to make his followers believe the only way to continue winning is with continued support, donated money and constantly telling Democrats that they lost. Don’t believe me? Go to Trump’s page and start a donation and just look at the wording. It is all about winning vs. losing and nothing about supporting him for any real reason. Furthermore, if something happens that Trump thinks might actually diminish his view to his followers, he is quick to make an anti-PC comment that will reinvigorate the ‘winners’ on his side to support him over the ‘losers.’

For a long time, I’ve followed a Facebook page lovingly called “Tomi Lahren Fans.” Of course, I know this is the worst of the worst Trump supporters, as most are old guys who comment about Tomi Lahren being “as smart as she is smoking hot,” but nonetheless this is my escape from my own echo chamber. And it pains me to see how willing they are to support Trump’s dangerous and silly plans. What I’ve found is that they don’t support them because they actually believe in them, but because anyone who doesn’t believe in them is a loser.

And the problem is that when everything is about winning and losing, it is no longer about logic; no longer about making the right decision but about making the decision with the most local support within whatever echo chamber these people preside in. Because that is the winning side, and whoever doesn’t support it is losing.