Playing the Trump Card

When I found out that a Donald Trump rally would be held in Costa Mesa, not more than 20 minutes away from our campus, my first thought was that it was not going to be as wild as the other rallies I had seen on the news.

Having grown accustomed to the sleepy Irvine suburb setting this past year, my intuition told me that the rally would be a regular one, including some protesting. But when news broke out about the rioting and chaos, I can’t say I was completely shocked either.

At this point, I consider Trump rallies equivalent to violence and hate, and while I did have reservations about whether or not Irvine and the surrounding cities would be as volatile to his presence, reactions of the citizens in the area are almost to be expected.

But even though the rioting that occurred is not out of the ordinary, the violence and intensity of anger aroused at these events is unsettling and does not paint a nice picture of either Trump supporters or Trump dissenters.

Trump has said many controversial and often offensive comments during his campaign. From building walls to deporting thousands, he has propositioned ideas that seem as uninformed as they are plausible.

His discussions on immigration and terrorism especially have stirred up much controversy and are in need of rectification. Protesters are justified in protesting his rallies.

But while many find him offensive, there are also many who agree with his words; a testament to the fact that he is now the Republican candidate for the coming presidential election.

Part of the intensity of the violence and anger mounting at these rallies can be attributed to the rhetoric Trump chooses to use in his speeches. His rhetoric incites hate and discrimination toward certain groups of people. His attacks on Mexicans and Muslims specifically help to justify the hate of those who agree with him.

His words seem to provide validation to those who wish to act on their hatred, a reason violence is such a consistent and recurring attribute of his rallies. By encouraging hateful concepts, he also encourages people to act on that energy of hate, and so, while his supporters thrive on this energy, dissenters push back and the result is explosive.

But the strife between those who support him and those who do not seems to reach a pinnacle at these rallies also because Trump has never truly denounced the violence and, in some occasions, has indirectly encouraged it.

In a recent speech, Trump said, “There used to be consequences to protesting. There are none anymore. These people are so bad for our country, you have no idea, folks,” condemning his dissenters for protesting.

Furthermore, when one of his supporters was arrested for punching a protester, rather than making an effort to lessen the violence, Trump came to the man’s defense and suggested that he would pay for his supporters’ legal fees.

The fact that Trump puts little to no effort to address the violence at his rallies sends the message to his supporters and protesters alike that violence is not only acceptable, but is also to be expected.

As a consequence, his rallies suggest that violence is a reasonable way to resolve disagreements. These rash and volatile actions from either side of the divide is counterintuitive to the agendas of both supporters and dissenters.

The fact that people go to such lengths to either condemn or express support for Trump just shows how polarized the opinions on the candidate are. There doesn’t seem to be a reachable middle ground, developing an unbridgeable gap between the people of our country, and possibly the worst aspect of our nation has been exhibited through Trump rallies.

 

Ashley Duong is a first-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at alduong1@uci.edu.

 

The media craze that came out of the recent Donald Trump rally in Costa Mesa is yet another example of how Trump has used his lack of political knowledge to his advantage.

This is all possible because Trump  has accepted a difficult truth about the American public — that, clearly, a large chunk of the nation does not know much more than he does about politics. For the most part, all that the American public knows about the election is what the media feeds it.

More than anything else, this election has become a media spectacle, a way for Americans to get their daily dose of shallow entertainment.

Reading every story about Trump in the past year has been like picking up Seventeen magazine and finding out that some Disney power couple just broke up. It’s dramatic, it’s exaggerated and it lacks any actual substance.

By substance, I mean political relevance. Rather than explaining the logic behind his ideas, Trump simply targets people’s fears — such as those regarding ISIS — and then exploits them to make himself look more powerful and knowledgeable than he really is. The public’s  reactions to his arguments — both positive and negative — only add to his presence in the media, which in turn helps him gain leverage in the election.

Not to mention, Trump has effectively turned his campaign into a collection of eye-catching images and memorable broad claims, accessible for all to see on social media. Although there were some actually discussing the country’s relations with Mexico on social media, there were more posting unflattering photos of a poorly-tanned Trump, comparing him to an orange.

Therefore, Trump’s platform took a back seat at his rally and was overshadowed by the crime and hysteria that pervaded the event.  Facebook and Twitter were littered with devastating reports, coming one after another until the event ended. As an onlooker, the images of people jumping on police cars, punching each other until they bled, and screaming blind expletives reminded me of the trailer for “Straight Outta Compton,” not a rally for a potential presidential candidate.

However, there is nothing profound about the imagery associated with this event, because there is nothing profound about its main attraction. We are talking about a man who, in his New York Times bestseller “Think Like a Billionaire,” advised his readers: “Whenever I’m making a creative choice, I try to step back and remember my first shallow reaction. The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.”

Much like Trump himself, all aspects of his campaign have morphed into something worthy of superficial gossip rather than intellectual discussion. Although I know his stances on illegal immigrants and ISIS, I also know about his immature reaction to Marco Rubio’s comment about his hands, his scandalous comments about his daughter and his caustic responses to critical interviewers.

In a way, Trump’s blatant disregard of politics and flair for public spectacle characterize his campaign more than his propositions  to “Make America Great Again.”

The news media was created to inform, not entertain. As demonstrated by his rally here in Costa Mesa, the cornerstone of the Trump campaign is ignorance. Clearly, Trump is better suited to entertainment media, where his shallow thoughts might actually do more good than harm.

Americans don’t need a president who fuels tabloid gossip and shallow entertainment. Americans need a real leader who is serious and level-headed; someone who can choose his words wisely and prioritize the country’s problems over petty personal insults.

 

Michelle Bui is a first-year biological sciences major. She can be reached at mkbui@uci.edu.