“Trump is abrasive but he is not being elected to be your friend, he’s being elected because he can change things.” 

As the United States presidential elections become increasingly heated, the IPF‘s political correspondent interviewed several young Donald Trump supporters in United States to understand why they are voting for the Republican nominee. According to research conducted by the Hoover Institute, only 2% of Trump’s supporters are under the age of 30. Furthermore, research conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC revealed that out of those aged 18 to 34, only 19% have positive feelings for Trump.

Based on the low number of young supporters for Trump, we were encouraged to find out why the minority few do favour the Republican nominee. Having spoken to a number of young Trump supporters in the United States, one thing was evident: the young impressionable student population is sick of “robotic puppets” like Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton. Having witnessed the abundance of political donors who influence campaigns and policies of candidates, some young people have come to feel increasingly powerless in the face of a political system that appears to cater to the interests of those with money.

Millennials voting for him note that Trump has successfully displayed how the people of the United States can be represented by someone who isn’t tied to an agenda of unspecified donors hiding behind curtains. Trump’s near independence is inspiring to young voters. Some also feel that his jump from being a Democrat to a Republican represents how he isn’t tied down by the bureaucracy present of either party.

A radical personality

Young people who label politicians as “corporate sell-outs” acknowledge that Trump isn’t perfect, but also pointed out that his role wasn’t to please everyone:

“Trump is abrasive but he is not being elected to be your friend, he’s being elected because he can change things.”

Despite the fact that research has revealed Trump’s speeches reflect the grammar of sixth graders, some young voters have dismissed the findings, insisting that the Republican is an effective speaker and leader, as well as a more charismatic person that those running against him.

While his personality isn’t a reason to vote for or against him, it is clear that a number of young voters are more drawn to the Republican’s character, rather than his policies. A sophomore from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, told the IPF:

“America needs something crazy to shake things up. Bernie is crazy too, but voting for Trump is a more realistic way of changing things in office”.

The Republican candidate has demonstrated that he has the potential to draw impressionable young voters towards him, straying them away from his “robotic” political opponents.

The wider picture of political dissatisfaction

A senior from the American University pointed out that Trump’s popularity reflects more than just the political atmosphere in the United States. Pointing to a growing trend of radical leadership in countries around the world, the student looked toward India, the largest democracy in the world with one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, who recently elected a leader accused of genocide against Muslims in his own country. Narendra Modi’s election win largely reflected dissatisfaction with corruption amongst the opposition party, with many voting for him simply for a change from the ruling Congress Party.

How different is Trump’s popularity in the face of a political system that doesn’t seem to satisfy a significant proportion of the American population?

Trump’s economic policies that appeal to young voters

When it comes to policies, young people told the IPF about a few that they think makes Trump the ideal future President. While the majority of young voters point to Trump’s four bankruptcies and products that are no longer available on the market, students who support him are attracted to his “loyalty to the free market system” and “business acumen that serves to crush the country’s multi-trillion-dollar debt”.

“It’s pick your poison at this point, and I’ll happily take Trump over the other two (Hillary and Bernie). Like it or not, the most important issue that needs to be fixed is the economy. You can’t get anything done if nobody has any money, and the economy begins with negotiations and a business plan. He literally wrote the book on that.”

They also refer to his tax plan, which exempts individuals earning less than $25,000 from paying tax and aims to eliminate loopholes that allow the rich to avoid paying tax. Although some remain sceptical of the technicalities of his tax plan, student voters are convinced it will be implemented on the basis that a Trump presidency will be more transparent in their actions.

Donald Trump might be a flawed individual and might face a lot of criticism, but many students choose to look past his faults. To them, he’s a politician who can’t be bought, who can step up and call people out when others won’t, and he is someone who can truly debate in what he believes in. Is he the answer to this country’s problems? No. But his popularity is a representation of the frustration with the nation’s political atmosphere.

“Trump might not be what the U.S. needs – but he is certainly what the country deserves given the unnecessary politicisation in the last eight years.”

In 2008 President Obama’s campaign slogan was “Change”. Trump reflects a similar exciting promise for change, albeit being more offensive than many deem acceptable. Students have made clear that they are looking past his excessive rhetoric in the hopes for a more realistic and straightforward political atmosphere.