Trump Presidency History
BY ALEX SARANICH '23
Over the past five years, President Trump’s supporters have deviated from being typical Republicans. The bulk of Republicans may not support him, but upon hearing Trump’s rhetoric, many have shifted their social ideologies further right. Groups of Trump supporters seem to consistently disregard the consensus on information; they assist him because of his impudent and bigoted declarations. Trump's radicality has both shifted the Republican Party (GOP) further right over the last few years, which has impacted the party as well as the United States as a whole in numerous ways.
The alt-right is a broad movement, but for our purposes, it is defined as anything that’s generally considered culturally right to radically right. For example, this includes opposing LGBTQ+ rights or believing in white supremacy. The alt-right supports Trump for his “political incorrectness” and his blatantly bigoted statements. Further, Trump takes advantage of sexism to garner votes. For example, when he was speaking of mothers working underneath his care, he believes that “she’s [the working mothers] not giving me 100%. She’s giving me 84%, and 16% is going towards taking care of children.” This statement stereotypes women as merely caretakers instead of employees, and this rhetoric attracted voters like Moses Sams. Previously a Democratic voter from Pennsylvania, Sams decided to vote for Trump in the 2016 election instead, claiming that the media had been pandering to “subsets of people.”
These statements could have detrimental effects to how politics functions since most authorities, no matter their beliefs, avoid making overt, bigoted statements. However, Trump has shown that he holds no such restraint. For instance, Trump refers to Mexicans as the root cause for many issues, claiming that “they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Even though he admits some may be good people, he harmfully stereotypes Mexicans in countless ways. Further, in a comment about his 2016 rival, Carly Fiorina, Trump remarked, “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?...I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?" Basing his incredulity on her gender, his statement implies he can’t imagine her being a president simply because she’s a woman. Even the average conservative can understand how these statements are bigoted. So, when Trump supporters say that “he says what we're thinking,” the alt-right is happy to be acknowledged because other politicians rarely swing so far right.
Because Trump is a major Republican figure who promotes these culturally right ideals, the party is gradually leaning further right to follow. In the 2020 election, conservatives had nobody to listen to besides Trump or other Trump supporters, so the party became more split. Trump was not the ideal president for many Republicans. A conservative who voted for Trump “cried” after voting, feeling “repulse[d] by his personality,” and “wish[ed] there had been another conservative choice,” illustrating how many simply vote along party lines, not personal interests.
Despite his indecent manners, most Republicans still prefer his conservative policies. However, in 2021, half of Trump’s party agrees with the anti-democratic statement "the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it." This dramatic change has forced most Trump fans to make a decision, and as Trump advertises more hazardous messages, more people have become independents. When Trump was the face of the Republican party, moderates hesitant to support someone with dubious ideals left the party. For example, former GOP supporter Stuart Stevens spent four decades assisting Republicans in elections, but now, he’s written It Was All a Lie which expresses d how the Republican party previously didn’t focus on bigotry. He’s changed his mind, believing that it’s one of the primary forms of obtaining Republican votes, and he no longer supports the party because of Trump’s misogyny. It’s unclear whether he merely disliked the Republican party or simply loathes Trump-ism. These people decided to abandon Trump, and conservatives—especially more moderate ones who had not already left—did so after the Capitol riots. Consequently, there are fewer conservatives in the middle of the political spectrum, resulting in an overall more polarized political party.
In contrast, those who stay in the party are subjected to his ramblings. In 2011, during Obama’s presidency, Trump asserted that “Barack Obama issued a statement for Kwanza but failed to issue one for Christmas,” when he had released a video wishing everyone Merry Christmas just four days earlier, which was a clear display of Trump distorting reality to his advantage. This is a clear example of Trump’s involvement in perpetrating fake news, since 21% of Republicans consider Trump's twitter account to be a reliable news source. Of course, not all Republicans share this mindset, but a fifth of Republicans would just see his post and believe it. Through Twitter, Trump has persuaded 17% of Americans to believe that Satan-worshipping elites run a child sex ring and mastermind our media and politics. After last year’s election results, Trump refused to acknowledge his loss and falsely claimed nationwide voter fraud, saying, “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful— – there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there will be a continuation.” Trump continued to believe that he had won the election and refused to accept the loss. And his supporters still backed him. For example, one police officer claimed that he was invited to terrorize the capitol by the “President of the United States!” Whether the President actually incited the January 6 riot is debatable, but there’s no doubt that if 80% of Texas Republicans believe voter fraud occurred, then it’s not so shocking that Trump’s followers reach faulty conclusions.
Trump’s claims are significant because people are receptive to repetitive messages even if the news initially seem absurd, and this phenomena might explain why conservatives tend to believe Trump’s false statements without hard evidence. The 2020 election supported this pattern, as three-fourths of Trump’s supporters believe that voter fraud occurred. This data is staggering, because there is little to no evidence of election fraud. Three-fourths of a party believing in what is essentially a conspiracy also implies that any skeptics who questioned Trump already withdrew their support for the party.
Trump’s messages and audience created more bigoted fans. Meanwhile, his actions caused many more moderate conservatives to disassociate themselves from him. As a result of his polarization of the GOP, Trump mostly gained the alt-right as supporters, which, in the end, won him neither the last election nor public popularity.