Donald Trump has succeeded in becoming one of the most controversial public figures of his time. At 69 years old, he has chosen to run for the GOP nomination for the 2016 presidential race in the United States. In his campaign, he has stepped on the toes of the Republican Party, demeaned several minority groups, and offended virtually everyone. So why does he continue to dominate the polls?
First, Trump is widely praised for not being a politician. Apart from being a successful businessman worth close to four billion dollars, he starred on his own television show, The (Celebrity) Apprentice, earning him the role of a pop culture icon. Although his former rivals Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson boasted similarly politically-vacant résumés, Trump has risen above the other nominees by demanding answers to questions his political rivals refuse to even mention and holding opinions that don’t match perfectly with either party. For instance, Trump is known for saying that it is not the United States’ responsibility to protect Israel, something most Republicans do not agree with.
Unlike his competitors, he is able to jump opinions from party to party in this way without much scrutiny. He has been noted for donating to and supporting past Democratic campaigns, including those of Hillary Clinton. His political competitors’ changing opinions have earned them hashtags like #WhichHillary; it is generally frowned upon, especially in primary season, for candidates to change their minds often. Despite him doing this, Trump still has the support of many Republicans for being human: people change their political views all the time, and his honesty in other areas make him relatable in this sense as well.
Many also like Trump’s blunt and opinionated attitude. Because he isn’t a politician, and does not work for any special-interest groups, Trump is able to share his visions and morals freely, without fear of losing funding or support. This allows him to propose outlandish solutions, like expanding walls along the nation’s border and the ban of certain ethnicities into the country. These extreme notions and outspoken values are unmatched by any of his fellow candidates.
One of Trump’s most prominent principles is his respect for military personnel and veterans. He has gained their support by promising to protect homeless and wounded veterans and standing for much-deserved pay raises for active-duty soldiers. His support for the military, as well as his plans for the country’s defense as president, has hugely contributed to his approval from voters.
In particular, millennials see his candidacy as one that is able to facilitate great change in the nation, with his go-getter attitude and strong opinions. Unlike many of his competitors, he does not give the impression that he will be a passive leader: he will take a stand, sometimes harshly, to make the United States into all it used to, and should, be. College students respect his activism and urgency in the issues they care about.
Although he can be argumentative and hot-tempered in debates, and sometimes fails to think before he speaks, Donald Trump’s virtues and detachment from the standard political system have lead him to nationwide following in his party’s race for the presidency thus far, and his campaign shows no signs of slowing down.