Trump And Ford Appeal To The Disenfranchised

Posted on Thursday, September 29 at 17:59 by JaredMilne
Donald Trumpís candidacy for the U.S. presidency has attracted a lot of scorn for many of Trumpís supporters. Kevin Williamson and David French wrote contemptuously in the National Review about how the working-class Americans supporting Trump had no one to blame but themselves for their problems. They failed themselves, and they should have known better. A similar contempt emerged in some circles towards ĎFord Nationí, the supporters of Torontoís former Mayor, the late Rob Ford. Michael Bolen shared Williamsonís and Frenchís contempt when he wrote in the Huffington Post about the supposed bigotry and disdain for intelligence of Fordís supporters. Apparently itís never occurred to Bolen or anyone else that this kind of contempt is whatís driven so many people to support Trump, Ford and others like them. In her book Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, Toronto journalist Robyn Doolittle talked about how many people in downtown Toronto lived almost in a bubble, dismissing the idea that someone like Ford could ever be elected in their city. Fordís election was a rude awakening. Some observers are already noticing a similar issue with Donald Trump. William McGurn wrote in the Wall Street Journal about Trump supporters being concerned about how their children will fare in a shaky economy, and noted the snide comments made by pundits towards the masses who disagreed with them. Alec McGillis echoed this in The Atlantic, writing about the contempt directed at Trump supporters from both the left and the right. Itís worth considering what could really be motivating the support for figures like Trump and Ford. David Daymen wrote in The American Prospect about how pro-Brexit voters supported Leave because they were frustrated with an elite that claimed it knew best, while the Leave voters were struggling due to the eliteís leadership. Joseph Heath wrote on the In Due Course blog about Ford supporters who supported him because he could address their concerns, while they felt ignored by people who were part of the Toronto establishment. Whether in the U.S., the United Kingdom or Canada, the problem has been much the same. Many people feel left behind by the changes happening today, whether in terms of immigration or trade. They donít think the established leadership and elites care about their problems. When they voice their concerns, theyíre often attacked as racist, small-minded, unable to compete, etc. How much of an effort have political movements, particularly on the left, actually made to try and engage these peoplesí concerns? Sometimes they do in addressing the economic issues that people have raised, but in turn itís drowned out by voices like Bolen and Williamson, who end up making everybody who could be associated with them look bad. Iím not a fan of Donald Trump or Rob Ford, but I can see why people support them. That sense of being neglected and looked down upon is whatís so frustrating. People support Trump or Ford partly to get back at the elites, and partly because they donít think other candidates and movements care about them. The question, though, is how do more mainstream movements and parties actually address the issues of Trump or Ford supporters, and make them feel like their concerns actually matter? This article was originally published in the St. Albert Gazette on September 7, 2016 and is available online at

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