There are a variety of factors, which, when closely analysed and evaluated become clear to the observer as having led to the election of Donald Trump to stand as the Republican Party’s nominee in the 2016 US Presidential Election.
Since 2012, when the former GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave President Obama an intense challenge in his campaign for re-election, a large segment of American society have found themselves feeling disconnected from their politicians in Washington. Many Americans believe that their politicians no longer serve their interests, and some have referred to the vast majority of elected officials at a Federal Level as being ‘Washington Insiders’, subservient to big donors and special interest groups.
When the Republican Primaries kicked off, along came ‘The Donald’ with his outspoken style of speech and somewhat unconventional ideas which were welcomed by a large segment of Republican Primary voters. His use of rhetoric which was previously and is still currently deemed ‘politically incorrect’ helped distinguish him from his fellow primary challengers. Whether this is viewed as something positive entirely depends on who you ask.
Initially, it seemed that Trump was an outsider to the campaign, who, in the eyes of the GOP Establishment was unfit to hold the office of President of the United States due to the fact that he lacked, and continues to lack previous political experience.
However, this did not play to his disadvantage even though many in the US media and political sphere anticipated it would. It actually became Trump’s advantage which set him apart from his challengers, since many grassroots Republicans who voted in the primaries were tired of what they saw as an elite of ‘Washington Insiders’ and career politicians on Capitol Hill. Trump’s perceived independent and unconventional thought, which many said was driven largely due to his wealth and self-financing was a large part of why he attracted the support of many primary voters. As Primary season progressed it gradually became apparent that the GOP establishment had severely underestimated Mr. Trump and his campaigns ability to win over the minds of Primary Voters.
Trump’s willingness to attack his opponents personally may too have attracted voters who were drawn to his controversial method of engaging in debate. His habit of becoming involved in sometimes days long Twitter arguments with prominent celebrities, which, in spite of the fact that largely negative attention was on most occasions diverted towards Trump as a result of this, caused media exposure to shift away from the rest of the GOP field, to the advantage of the Trump campaign. In hindsight, we can see that this tactic was used repeatedly by Trump, and, since he is now the GOP nominee we could perhaps say that the tactic employed played some part in the success of his long fought primary campaign.
Trump’s bold statements on the primary campaign trail such as ‘I’m gonna bomb the sh*t out of ISIS’ and ‘let’s work with Putin to defeat ISIS’ earned him the support of many Americans wary of the growing global threat of radical Islamist extremism, but also looking for qualities in a Republican Presidential Candidate which were less based on Neoconservative thought and more on co-operating with Russia on areas of common interest on the world stage.
Re-igniting the long lost concept of American exceptionalism in US politics and embracing it as part of his campaign strategy was a tactic well employed by the Trump campaign. The campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ is a key example of this concept being employed.
In conclusion, a mix of populist policies, nationalism and the advocating of ideas which aren’t usually considered by Conservative politicians in the US, led to the success of Trump’s primary campaign and subsequent nomination as the GOP nominee to run for President.
The million dollar question which now makes the Trump campaign feel anxious, is “How does Trump go about convincing Americans of various political leanings that he is indeed the candidate who should become their next President? “