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Eugene Robinson: An Analysis of Donald J. Trump’s Appeal


An editorial in the Fresno Bee caught my eye today: it was written by Eugene Robinson, who has a regular column there, I believe.  Mr. Robinson analyzes the appeal of Donald J. Trump to his audience: the middle-class, white, probably socially conservative male with a high-school education.  He says that Mr. Trump “almost seems to be reinventing politics” and leaving the political parties behind with his reckless, instinctive, transgressive style.

Trump trashes “political correctness” and refuses to be polite to minority groups and those who have been called victims.  He invites those who support him to give vent to their anti-black, anti-Semitic, anti-foreign feelings that had been suppressed before.  He ridicules traditional politics and politicians.  He points out that the Republicans had been promising that, if they were in power, they would get rid of Obamacare, stop illegal immigration, slash federal spending, and reduce the long-term debt, and they have not done any of that.

Trump appeals directly to “racial and ethnic animus”, the impression among ill-educated, overwhelmed white men that they are being discriminated against because “they” have seized the levers of power.  “They” are, of course, Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, and gays.  The ignorant mass of people who are being left behind by change are drawn to Trump’s crude, rude slanders and lies.

The Democratic Party needs to beware of this reaction against traditional politics and politicians and to offer an alternative to the same old slogans and people.  Mr. Robinson warns that a “wave of disgust” threatens to destroy both political parties.


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