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Professors examine ‘Trumpism’

| Monday, April 25, 2016

Pat Pierce and Sean Savage, professors of political science, hosted a discussion Wednesday on the recent phenomenon of what they refer to as “Trumpism.”

According to Savage, their aim was to examine the development of the current political atmosphere in America and question how the stage was set for a candidate like Donald Trump to become a viable contender for the Republican ticket.

“I find Trumpism more interesting than Donald Trump,” Savage said, because he predicts the movement will remain, despite the fact that it “is not a consistent, coherent ideology.”

Savage said the main slogan of Trumpism is “Make America Great Again” and shared he “[thinks] the key word in that statement is again,” because it explains why we don’t find many Trump supporters below the age of 40.

“Part of the generational appeal of Trump to middle-aged and older people is this notion that America was a better country to live in in the past, especially if you were a working-class or lower-middle-class person,” he said. 

Pierce said he has examined survey evidence on factors that make a person likely to support Trump over the other Republican candidates.

“[Trump is] a candidate who has violated every common understanding of how to campaign successfully.” he said.

Pierce said it is important to recognize that these aren’t flattering characteristics.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say that the people who are supporting Trump are necessarily characterized by these qualities all the time because what Americans think about at any given time is stimulated by what elites and the media are talking about,” Pierce said.

According to Pierce, these sentiments are not solely fostered by Trump’s campaign, as both Fox News and conservative talk radio have long been strategically generating fear and anger to increase viewership.

“If you don’t think about politics very much, it’s very little work to feel some way about politics.” Pierce said. “Fox News and talk radio, all of whom hate Donald Trump, paved the way for Trump’s candidacy bringing those kinds of sentiments and fears to the surface … to be played upon by candidates, and Trump just did it better than anybody else.”

Savage said Trump has an immense amount of freedom and power based on the fact that he is mostly financing his own campaign and is not a career politician.

“Whereas career politicians are always thinking ahead about the next office, he’ll say whatever he has to say with no restraint, making him a candidate with a unique amount of freedom and power,” Savage said.

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