Donald Trump: part of American culture like apple pie

11 December 2015 12:46 pm

Surprised about Donald Trump leading all the Republican candidates for the presidency? Don’t be. When you look at Americans' attitudes and culture, not only on that specific question of Islam but toward politics and society in general, a lot of things about Trump that have taken the political establishment by surprise aren't surprising at all.

As Matt Taibbi writes in Rolling Stone, it’s a little too late for the media to ignore Trump.

“The time to start worrying about the consequences of our editorial decisions was before we raised a generation of people who get all of their information from television, and who believe that the solution to every problem is simple enough that you can find it before the 21 minutes of the sitcom are over,’’ Taibbi writes.

“Or before we created a world in which the only inner-city black people you ever see are being chased by cops, and the only Muslims onscreen are either chopping off heads or throwing rocks at a barricades.

“This is an amazing thing to say, because in Donald Trump's world everything is about him, but Trump's campaign isn't about Trump anymore. With his increasingly preposterous run to the White House, the Donald is merely articulating something that runs through the entire culture.”

First there is the issue of Islam. A 2015 American values survey found that 56 per cent of Americans feel that Islam is at odds with the American way of life.

Why are voters gravitating to celebrities like Trump? Because American culture is switched off politically and socially.

According to the US Federal Election Commission, voter turnout from 1960 to 2014 has slumped from 63.1 per cent to 36.3 per cent. Pew Research has found that only 29 per cent of Americans read a newspaper every day.

Add to that the fact that fewer than half (38 per cent) of Americans have a passport.

Daniel Wagner, CEO of Country Risk Solutions, says data from Nielsen and IMDB show that Americans favourite TV shows are about sport and when it comes to movies, they like science fiction and animation.

“The answer appears to be that Mr. Trump is speaking to an apathetic, ignorant, and ill-informed electorate who gravitate toward emotional issues and appear to approve of demagoguery,’’ Wagner says. “Politicians who go on the stump proclaiming to speak on behalf of the American people saying 'the American people in their great wisdom want...' don't know what they are talking about, or are deliberately spinning the political process. The truth is, the average American doesn't appear to have much knowledge or wisdom, and simply wants to be left alone and entertained.

And Trump does that in spades.