Donald Trump has attracted a lot of attention. Populism, a political strategy made by the people for the the people, can also have dangerous effects by having people believe answers to the middle and lower class’s problems are simple solutions that can be implemented easily. By these quickly made administrations, those without power quickly and unrealistically become scapegoats for problems. The evidence of populism rooted in Trump’s health care policy, his immigration reform policy and his stances on drugs and civil rights show that Donald Trump seeks to work for the people but would also hinder our growth and even hurt citizens.
The perception of populism has been around almost as long as the idea of a flourishing society. Democratic populism acts towards the wealthy and the powerful, trying to break the gap between middle and upper class by wanting upper-income tax increases and higher minimum wages. Republican populism, on the other hand, works as a force for the “working man”, and to help improve the government and the acts passed is a bit of common sense and a strong personality (Waldman). For example, the People’s Party, the populist movement from 1891 to 1908 was based to reform economic problems the people thought had gone out of hand (Leahmann).
Populism can be dangerous to those in power as it has the opportunity as 99% against 1% to bring about massive change for the people as well as scapegoating to protect the majority and wrongfully blaming the minority. Times when the people turn to populism comes about when the middle or lower class feels the world is set against them from the sheer dominance of the wealthy, and they feel violated and threatened in a state of living that had once felt stable and safe (Packer). Populism as well as conservatism are a two way street and can be both beneficial as well as destructive. The dangers that populism holds carry the fact that some people will always believe populism defines the country as in shambles due to a specific group or cooperation of people. “The scum of creation has been dumped on us,” says Thomas E. Watson, a populist from Georgia who had a long career in American politics. “Some of our principal cities are more foreign than American [. . .] The vice and crime which they have planted in our midst are sickening and terrifying. What brought these Goths and Vandals to our shores?” Italians, the Jewish, Polish, and other immigrants from all over Europe were persecuted when they arrived in America in a similar manner that immigrants today are persecuted (Packer). “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers,” said Ronald Reagan. This belief that the working institution of tomorrow is going to be a simple solution to a policy problem delegated by a good-old fashioned American man of the upper middle class with an outstanding personality and “common sense” is frankly outrageous (Waldman). Change is brought by not only understanding completely, but also creative means to fix the problem, and for the reason of the seeming ease in implementing new ideas into the system is why populism is dangerous can quickly snowball out of control as we can see with Donald Trump’s egregious policies
Donald Trump, who has been slaying the press by throwing wild ideas out before the primary elections and despite having no party loyalty in the past, has now been coming forward with ideas to protect and conserve the American lifestyle. A view on Donald Trump’s policies and stances on current issues show that he is in fact a populist, and a dangerously popular populist at that. George Packer comments, “Just let him handle it—he’ll build the wall, deport the eleven million, rewrite the Fourteenth Amendment, create the jobs, kill the terrorists. He offers no idea beyond himself, the leader who can reverse the country’s decline by sheer force of personality.” This supports the argument that Trump is indeed a populist because he is pushing for policies like his immigration reform policy and policy on the health care system. In some facets, his intention to better the health care system have well being of the middle and lower class people. “You can’t have a guy that has no money, that’s sick, and he can’t go see a doctor, he can’t go see a hospital, you have to take care of poor people,” Trump says on his ideal health care (Lehmann). Also, his stance on drugs in America has drastically changed, whether it be because he was education or looking for profit on the subject, he goes from saying, “I’ve never taken drugs of any kind, never had a glass of alcohol. Never had a cigarette, never had a cup of coffee,” in July of 2000, to saying in April of 2011 that we must legalize drugs and use tax revenue to fund drug education (Donald). His gradual change of heart about the legalization of drugs shows that his views on drug use have adjusted to conform with popular ideas.
While his health and drug concepts are far fetched but possible, Donald Trump’s immigration policy and his attitude towards civil rights show an entirely new spectrum of colours. Trump, almost immediately after his comments on Meet the Press, released his policy plan for immigration reform. Widespread deportation is a summary of his proposal: mandatory return of criminals and illegal immigrants along with ending birthright citizenship, sending the children born in the United States to aliens. But it most certainly does not end there; Trump would plan for the United States to impose penalties to the Mexican government until they agree to build a literal wall separating Mexico and America, and prior to that, the United States government would impound all wages from immigrants earned while in America, increase fees on temporary visas and, if necessary, cancel them, and increase fees at ports and border crossing cards. If he gets elected, the last step of his arrangement would be to hire three times the amount of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who enforce immigration laws (Atkin). Donald Trump intends for this to happen to protect the “true America” and American jobs, as if decades ago, people did not sail over from Europe to start a better life. Not only that, his populism shows in his stance against Civil Rights. In July of 2000, he said that the best way to go about LGBTQA+ rights was to “tolerate diversity; prosecute hate crimes against gays,” which sounded like a good start, until in March of 2011, he states, “No gay marriage; no same-sex partner benefits.” Furthermore, he shoves the blame onto the country, and particularly not himself when he says, “Political correctness is country’s problem, not my problem,” this past August and calls women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Along that line, he also was disinvited from the RedState gathering for making misogynistic comments towards women (Donald). While acknowledging the rest of the sexuality spectrum in his stance on LGBTQA+ rights that indulges a growing group, using the words “tolerate” and using certain terms to call women caters to both males and females who have roots in societies without an open mind.
Populism and its dangers are well rooted in American history, bring about good change to help the majority of the county, but also giving fuel to accusations that governing a country and an institution is easy. Donald Trump is a perpetrator of that same notion, and yet, somehow he is running policies that are being supported like his immigration reform policy and health care policy and having incriminating conclusions to civil rights and drug use.
Works Cited: Atkin, Emily. "Donald Trump Just Released An Actual Policy Plan." ThinkProgress. Think Progress, 16 Aug. 2015. Web. 8 Sept. 2015. "Donald Trump on the Issues." Donald Trump on the Issues. On the Issues, 16 Aug. 2015. Web. 8 Sept. 2015. Lehmann, Chris. "Donald Trump and the Long Tradition of American Populism." Newsweek. Newsweek, 22 Aug. 2015. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. Packer, George. "The Pros and Cons of Populism." The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 7 Sept. 2015. Web. 07 Sept. 2015. Waldman, Paul. "The Simple-minded Populism That Controls the GOP." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2015. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.