The Appeal of D. Trump

Perhaps this statement applies to you: Before this election, I never really followed politics. It certainly rings true for me. I reached legal voting age in 2004, a few months before my first year of college; it was also an election season. Incidentally, I was assigned to read a lot about the election in a few of my classes, but I didn't rush to join a Young Democrats/Republicans club or anything. I participated from a distance and casted my vote (albeit, an uneducated one) on election day. I became a bit more civically minded after that when I took a required Political Science class. As a weekly assignment, we had to pick a news media outlet to follow, choose an article a week, and write a brief reflection on that piece and the coverage provided. I chose NPR, which sparked a long love affair with its programming. It was the first time I had ever followed current events so closely. NPR became a part of my daily routine. It's no surprise, then, that the 2008 and 2012 elections were different for me (as they were for many folks). I just knew more about the candidates' platforms thanks to NPR.

Now it's 2016, and we're on the brink of another election...a weird, mind-numbing election. An election that strikes fear in many. An election that has torn the country apart more than any in my lifetime. An election that has forced us all to be a little more involved.
I'm interrupting this post with cute animals because cute animals help lower our blood pressure
For the first time ever, I'm consuming news from multiple media outlets: NPR, The New York Times, The BBC, The Atlantic...and Fox News. Yes...Fox News---but only when I'm at my parents' house ;) I've learned a lot about the world from this election, and I've learned even more that there are some things that I just don't understand...like caucuses and the electoral college. 

The appeal of the Republican nominee used to be on the list of things I don't understand, but after nearly four months of hard thinking and seriously sleepless nights, I think I finally get why people are voting for him: 

He appeals to the disenfranchised. 

I knew this, but I didn't get it until I read the article, 3 Reasons People Joined ISIS (And Why You And I Would Have, Too). The irony here is not lost on me....In the article, Matt Willingham (of the Preemptive Love Coalition) writes: 
"Few things are more important to us earthlings than the need to not feel alien—the need to belong. When a person feels disadvantaged, drowned out, or desperate, one of the most common options (among the few available to them) is to get loud, angry, and, in some cases, violent."
This article helps me understand why we have so many people supporting a candidate who is xenophobic, predatory, inflammatory, etc.

We have swaths of people in our country who feel "disadvantaged, drowned out, or desperate." A person could come up with 100 reasons why so many feel this way. While I have a tendency to think these feelings sometimes stem from our own selfishness, I know the origins of these feelings is something bigger and more complicated than narcissism. There is likely a series of factors (partisan politics, poverty, racial tension, etc.) that is causing a significant population to feel like outsiders. I will never support our Republican nominee, not even if he is elected into office, but I am starting to understand his appeal.

I know I'm supposed to wrap up this piece with some sort of nice, call-to-action statement (that's the trend in blogging now), but I've written and rewritten this paragraph at least seven times because honestly, I don't know how to end this. I don't know what to do with this revelation. It is, however, causing me to look at Trump supporters now with a bit more compassion and empathy, and maybe that's enough.

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