by Marion Marks
Linking Donald Trump to public anger is a clear parallel that demonstrates that national sentiment against anyone in elected office and frustration with the status quo of government today. The ease with which Trump harnesses anger parallels the 1968 Nixon campaign, rallying “Ignored Americans” who supported a governmental crack down on dissidents, blacks and hippies. Nixon convinced white voters that, left unchecked, the radicals were coming to burn down their homes.
The 1969 “Troubled American” issue of Newsweek based many articles on the results of their commissioned Gallup Poll that measured the sentiment of the white majority. Today the numbers may also be comparable to what they found:
- 56% supported the government crackdown by the government
- 85% of whites felt that black militants were getting off too easily
- 65% felt that unemployed blacks were more likely to get government aid than unemployed whites
- 66% felt that the police needed to be given more power
- Nearly half felt that the country had moved backwards over the last ten years, and certainly this parallels the frustration after the economic collapse of 2008-2009, where we have quickly forgotten how the collapse was triggered
- Nearly 60% believed things were only going to get worse.
It was the stoned hippies, braless women, criminal blacks and treasonous fanatics that Nixon blamed for societal problems. Nixon rallied his “silent-majority,” who were full or rage and fear, to focus not on the Vietnam War but the drugs that were the common factor of all these alleged criminals. Nixon’s spokesmen claimed that the crimes committed in the country could all be cured by cracking down harder of the criminals.
The rhetorical Sword of Trump, like Nixon, finds that “Bad People” must be punished for all the sins of the past, none of which he is responsible for creating. All Trump’s problems, like the economic problems of any of his followers can be blamed on the failures of the incumbents. And, fixing these problems doesn’t require anything more than trusting Trump to do the right things to correct all that others have done wrong.
The claims of rising crime in the cities cannot be supported by statistical data, but fear by the majority of Americans has been harnessed and the fear-card has been easily played. In actuality, the majority of American cities have seen a drop in violent crimes, but this is not the sentiment of voters. Terrorist threats have not successfully achieved a single attack on American soil under President Obama, but the fear is real, because the message of reality TV Trump has an accepting audience. Fear sells and security is fragile.
Most American neighborhoods are safe, but rapid news penetration of any crime creates uncertainly. People don’t have to experience crime first hand to feel threatened by it. The message of crime has a receptive audience. Even in states and cities where tolerance, reconciliation and peace may be the norm, stirring the pot with threats of violence works and draws an audience.
Trump’s appeal to voters rolls with the tide of general discontent regarding government and the failures to fix problems with each previous administration. Trump is like the pest control expert who sees your home, infested with termites, and suggests that eradicating the pests can only be accomplished by first burning the house to the ground and entrusting him to rebuild it. Sadly, many Americans are so frustrated they will accept any answer over the flawed Clinton option. My belief is that we are not to the point that burning down the whole house makes any sense. Allocating blame is easy, but Louisiana saw how burning down the house worked with Governor Jindal. Louisiana citizens should know that Trump is not a viable fix, but don’t expect them to vote intelligently, again.