There are two points I’d like to make about Donald Trump. First of all, I am not a fan of his and I find many of his remarks to be disturbing. Trump has announced countless statements and proposals that have only previously been said by dictators and totalitarian rulers. Things like keeping a registry of an entire religious population; something Hitler did with Jews in Germany, and something Trump proposed to do with Muslim Americans. Trump has also banned the Washington Post, among other news outlets, from covering his events. A presidential candidate who tries to control the press can only make me wonder what he would do as a president under criticism from the media. Furthermore, he has proposed building a wall, like they did in Berlin during the Cold War, and like they’ve done in Israel to separate parts of the West Bank. However, whenever Trump proposes these radical ideas, his ratings stay the same, or even go up. In many ways, Trump’s massive support scares me, though in many ways it makes me proud, and that brings me to my second point.
My second point is this: Trump’s rise to power is a populist, democratic movement that has shown our nation that democracy is not a joke or a game in the United States. Democracy does not mean that every citizen is happy, but it means the majority can have a voice and decide who will run our country. I don’t like Trump’s message, but there is a message we can take from the American people who nominated the man. Trump didn’t out-advertise anyone or out-spend anyone; he didn’t sell out his policy stances in exchange for big contributions and Super PAC funding; and he certainly didn’t seek the approval or endorsement of the political elite. Rather, he said what he felt (or at least what he felt would win him support from the people), he emphasized his outsider status, and he ran a remarkably successful populist campaign (sorry Bernie). Whether you agree with Trump or not, I think we can all agree with the values of democracy, upon which our nation was founded and Constitution written. Trump defied all the skeptics, commentators, pundits, party leaders, and political elite. He proved you don’t need to be a part of the party establishment and champion every Republican policy; he proved you don’t need Super PACs to fund you (but I guess you need a billion or two in the bank to fund your own campaign). In theory the leaders of a democracy are entrusted to reflect the values of their constituents and serve as a representative of those people and their views. In the modern reality of our government, it seems that a populist candidate who reflects the opinions, views, and fears of his or her constituents comes not as the norm, but somehow as a shock and an upset. People who support Mr. Trump are the people who are fed up with a government that sits back and ignores the people; they are angry Republican voters whose party has done little more than shutdown the government, and they are former Democratic voters whose party has nominated a Super PAC funded, party establishment elitist. Whether Trump actually wins the presidency, he has taught this country and its democratic institutions not to ignore the populists. He defeated his several opponents within the Republican Party, and despite their opposition, the Republican Party will nominate Trump as their presidential candidate in less than a week. He showed us more than anything that our votes matter; our elections are not just an electoral game of numbers or strategic advertising and spending. The system is not rigged or fixed, and at the end of the day it really matters that you speak to your constituents and reflect their opinions. I don’t agree with Trump’s opinions or statements, or those of his supporters, but I do agree with democracy, and after the people have expressed their opinion through support and votes, their voices have been heard. Democracy is alive and well and our votes matter.