In the early hours of the 9th of November 2016, the news broke all over the world that the billionaire businessman Donald J. Trump will (really) be the 45th President of the United States of America. It is fair to note that this outcome was not expected.
Over the proceeding hours, we’ve all seen countless articles and think-pieces dissecting and discussing a whole host of matters regarding this election. The millions on social media, too, have shown their distaste. Never have the keyboard activists had so much to say.
Yet, regardless of the vitriol being spread over every inch of your Facebook Feed, the fact remains that Donald Trump will be President. And he will be President precisely because the people of the United States elected him. They are the ones who’ve made this happen. Far too many seem to have forgotten that this is how a democracy works.
The question of Mr Trumps suitability for the job is no longer relevant. The Donald will be taking the famous seat at the desk in the Oval Office. The point is that relativity vastly outweighs any perceived positives or negatives. At this stage the debate has well and truly finished.
Now all that we can do (particularly those actually in America) is to accept the outcome and move forward. Where questions can – and should (must!) – be asked, is as to how this was able to happen. How did Donald Trump – a man with zero political experience; a man freely spouting notably offensive and prejudiced jargon, attacking and dismissing various movements, groups, and orientations – become what is arguably the most powerful man in the world?
Well, the answer is firmly rooted within two key areas: communication and context. Donald Trump would never have appealed to voters in the first place were it not for the contextual, socio-economic moment in which the United States now finds itself. But above all, it’s that he communicates to those voters that got him into office. Context made it a possibility, communication made it a reality.
Trump knew what he was doing from the outset. There are plenty who dismiss him as a halfwit, but this is not the case. Trump is a highly calculated, exceptionally shrewd individual. His highly successful exploits within the world of business suggest little else. And so when he decided to run for President, he was already clear about the demographics to whom he was going to appeal. This included mostly, though was not limited to, the uneducated and the disillusioned. In his first speech after it became clear that he was going to win, Trump mentioned those who have been ‘forgotten’ by society, and it is these people – the unseen, the forgotten, the unglamorous – who have won him the election.
We’ve all read a lot about Trump over the last year. He has dominated the cultural imagination, even when we haven’t wanted him to. We’ve all seen his speeches, even if just in snippets. And even from just seeing these snippets, it’s relatively easy to note quite how simple his speeches actually are. In stark contrast to almost all other politicians and public figures, the language Trump chooses to use is alarmingly unsophisticated. Analysis of this language – which vary frighteningly little – clearly shows that Trump uses almost exclusively one syllable words, focusing on cheap rhetoric and a microscopically small list of adjectives (Fantastic, Tremendous) to get across his point. Yet again, it is precisely this that appealed so heavily to disenchanted voters.
The Donald efficiently and effectively employed a mixture of basic language and basic ideas. He employed these in a shrewd, yet simple manner. His speeches at his rallies are, without-fail, uttered in rapid fire. The pace of his diatribe perfectly complements the passionate force with which he delivers it. To the literate and educated (most of whom are more liberal in their leanings) this was easy enough to see through and dismiss. It was dismissed as nonsense, as crowd pleasing and culturally divisive spiel.
And yet still he was able to speak and appeal to tens of millions of individuals all over the United States. His negative, hateful tactics – Negative Cohesion, which was also notable for its presence during the 1930’s and early ‘40’s (!) – won over an enormous fraction of the population. To these voters, Donald Trump at least offered the hope of change; of a system that might perhaps acknowledge their discontent.
That this was able to occur speaks volumes about the quality of education within the USA. People talk about voters in terms of groups and preferences, but this happens on an entirely individual level. Millions upon millions of people have to have been failed by society for this to happen. To compound it further, this has to have been going on over numerous generations. The result is a huge collective made up of individuals – and thus whole communities – who no longer have any faith in the current system.
This is what makes communication such a powerful force. Because it is precisely these people who have never even had the chance to develop the tools that might offer them a chance at making it within the current set-up. They are the illiterate, the verbally and intellectually stifled.
Donald Trump expertly exploited the situation. He saw what was on the table, and as a highly capable businessman – a worker of people, of systems – he knew what needed to be done. The conditions for this to happen have been present for a long time, a lot longer than it seems. That we got to this point is what needs to be examined. That it’s happened at all is no longer relevant.