Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore/ Flickr
Donald J. Trump’s path to victory was paved with shouts of anger and dissent built on the ideal which brought the most controversy and strength to his campaign: Anti-political correctness.
From his announcement speech in June 2015, Trump has been fighting against political correctness in the American government. In this first speech, he first proposed the construction of a massive border wall to stave off illegal Mexican immigration. Trump defended this ambitious idea by discussing the character of said immigrants who reach America.
He stated, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Speaking about Mexican immigrants in such openly broad terms seemed to be quite a risk for a candidate in the first stage of his campaign, but Trump was consistently encouraged by massive support from his followers. By July 2015, Trump’s rallies were filled with thousands of supporters.
Mexicans were not the only minority group targeted by Trump’s rhetoric. In December 2015, Trump proposed a ban on all Muslims attempting to gain entry into the United States, whether it was legally done or not. A Trump campaign press release stated that the ban would stay in place until American politicians can “figure out what is going on.” Despite the controversy surrounding this idea, supporters of Trump continued to defend his words and actions. Some of the supporters who attended the rally in which Trump announced his plan to ban Muslim immigration spoke with CNN after the event.
One Trump supporter said, “I think that we should definitely disallow any Muslims from coming in. Any of them. The reason is simple: We can’t identify what their attitude is.” Another supporter defended Trump by stating, “It’s a violent blood cult. OK? That’s what Islam is … all they know is violence, that’s all they know. It’s not a peace-loving religion.”
In the first Republican presidential debate, just two months after his campaign began, Trump was tasked with debating experienced governors and senators. During the debate, Trump remarked, “The big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.” He said this in response to Megyn Kelly’s concerns that Trump has made continuously vulgar and disrespectful comments about women. His willingness to disregard the expected language of a political candidate expanded beyond that of race relations. Despite how irresponsible this may seem, Trump’s willingness to say what others would not became the driving force of his general support. Many of his strongest advocates back Trump due to his ability to “speak his mind.”
In a video produced by BBC, a Trump supporter stated her case for the president-elect to a reporter. “I like the fact that he is not afraid to say what we are all thinking,” she said. Another supporter in the video stated, “When you listen to Mr. Trump, he speaks from his heart. It’s never the same. It’s not written out. It’s not on any teleprompter.”
In a video produced by CNN, a representative spoke with a panel of Trump supporters to discuss their allegiance to the republican. “He says what he means. I honestly believe he is telling the truth,” one of the panelists said.
Woman and minorities were not the only targets of Trump’s proud use of the First Amendment. Trump overtook every other republican candidate and continuously insulted and attacked them in the process. Trump used many degrading nicknames for his competitors, such as “Little Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted” or “Low Energy Jeb.” In some of the early primary debates, Trump viciously criticized his fellow candidates. When responding to Ted Cruz in the ninth GOP debate, he said, “You are the single biggest liar. This guy will say anything. He’s a nasty guy. Now I know why he does not have one endorsement from any of his colleagues.” Even targeting the physical appearance of Rand Paul in the second republican debate, Trump said, “I never attacked him on his look. And, believe me, there’s a lot of subject matter there.” Whether these attacks seem juvenile or not, Trump steadily rose in the polls until he was able to cleanly win the nomination.
Even with a real chance to clinch the presidency, Trump stayed on the offensive for the remainder of his campaign. Trump stated at a Florida rally that he believed Barack Obama was the founder of the notorious terrorist group known as ISIS. After these comments, Trump was a guest on Hugh Hewitt’s conservative talk radio show where he was pressed about the connection between Obama and ISIS. Hewitt assumed that Trump was referring to the supposed vacuum that Obama created in the Middle East, but this was not the case.
Trump attacked both Obama and Hillary Clinton, saying, “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.” This was, of course, another example of Trump speaking his mind, as there seemed to be no clear advantage to framing the current president as a terrorist. Fortunately for the supporters who enjoy his “call it as I see it” attitude, Trump did not simply target democrats. Trump took to Twitter in the last weeks of the election to insult the republican speaker of the house of representatives, Paul Ryan. Trump tweeted, “Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty.”
Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
Disloyal R's are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win – I will teach them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
Trump was still able to secure the presidency after all of the mudslinging and controversial statements. Obviously, some citizens of the United States were searching for a voice that represented what they could never say. That voice came in the form of Donald Trump, and his strongest weapon was his casual disinterest in political correctness.
This is an opinion, written from the perspective of the writer and does not reflect the views of Sidelines or MTSU.
To contact Editor-in-Chief Sarah Grace Taylor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.