9 things Donald Trump did to make himself the Republican frontrunner
29th March 2016
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How did Donald Trump get this far? It’s a question the whole world is asking, and with good reason – after success at the Arizona Primary last week, Donald Trump currently stands with a two in three chance of giving a victory speech at the Republican convention in Ohio at the end of July. As it turns out, an unexpected combination of factors – from viral news suitability to a policy of well-trodden political rhetoric – have combined to plunge the billionaire with the ridiculous hair into the US conservative driving seat. We look at the evidence. --- Sponsored by The Economist, who would like to give away to The National Student readers a special subscription package: for £12 only get a 12-week print and/or digital subscription as well as Bluetooth speakers or a Phone Charger. --- Harnessed the power of social media The numbers read more like those of a reality TV player than a GOP frontrunner: almost seven and a half million twitter followers, with 46,000+ retweets in the past 24 hours alone (as of 4pm, Tuesday). Over 135,000 tweets favourited in the same time. Politics in the age of social media, The Economist points out, is changing democracy – and the world of instant gratification and perceived endorsement via clicks makes the whole system of “politics and collective action more chaotic.” Social media popularity for politicians works in the same way that online petitions do: starting small, before gradually tugging on the emotive heartstrings of more and more people. These people are likely to be extroverts, who are “sensitive to social information” – and we might argue, in need of personal endorsement. The Economist states that “As a result, if a petition’s initial audience includes enough people with the right mindset, it can quickly take off... Politics in the age of social media are thus better understood by chaos theory than by conventional social science.” So, they sign. Or, in this case, they vote. Benefited from the Republicans dividing their loyalties According to The Economist, US nominations are often predictable because the party has picked its leader early – which is why the media didn’t take Trump’s campaign seriously at first. There is, however, “no guarantee that the party will in fact decide. Sometimes its various factions cannot come to agreement, and divide their support among rival candidates. “That was what happened on the Republican side in 2015, when the endorsement leader, Jeb Bush, received only a fraction of the statements of support that had gone to previous front-runners.” The lack of uniting over legitimate candidates, therefore, left a veritable power vacuum – which Trump successfully swept into. Championed isolationism Trump has just declared victory in Arizona, a border state where his planned wall would have a very visible impact. He partly did this through support from well known Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an extremely divisive anti-immigration figure in a state that appears increasingly worried about those pushing in from beyond the Mexican border. Longer term, Trump has used a (rather redneck) fear of the “other” invading the Land of the Free as a basis for his campaign, partly bolstered by an aggressive policy towards the Middle East – and an apparent disregard for any consequences this might have. With a volatile international situation and many Americans feeling that years of intervention in the Middle East have only put their idyll at risk, it’s unsurprising that this self-preserving policy has caught people’s emotions nationwide. Rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric It’s potentially the oldest political tool in the book, first codified in Ancient Rome and defined by Aristotle as "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion" – and it’s something that many of history’s most divisive politicians have had in absolute spades. Trump uses the art of emotively persuading an audience via discourse to its extreme. Just look at one of the most basic factors that make up rhetoric – repetition. He’s “making America great again” whilst “beating Hillary” on an almost daily basis.
We need to secure our borders ASAP. No games, we must be smart, tough and vigilant. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN & MAKE AMERICA STRONG AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016
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