The New Way: Trumpian Politics on the Rise

By: Emilia MacDonald

Edited By: Madeleine Hamilton

As the world approaches an incredible year of elections, it has become clear that the rise of Trumpian politicians is not something to be ignored; the United States is facing a repeat of the 2020 election in the competition between Trump and Biden, yet the more hazardous and outrageous details of Donald Trump’s persona have come to light. The birth of Trump’s personality cult has created a prime example of the calculated intent of politicians to absorb the religious devotion of voters to create an unshakeable base of support. 

A 2021 article by Andrea Douglas for Inquire Publication entitled “The Striking Similarities Between Rob Ford and Donald Trump” draws characteristic parallels between the two politicians. I extend this point to assert that Trump and Ford have created political brands defined by stubbornly devoted fans, granting them both a staunch and unwavering political following. This can be exemplified by the fact that the further and more bizarre that Trump sways in his policies, the less people notice and the more it is shrugged off by the media and his opposition. 

The model of politics popularized by Trump and Ford is not confined to North America, as exemplified by Hugo Chavez. Chavez was the previous president of Venezuela until he passed away in 2013 as one of the most visible Latin American Presidents in the last few decades, ending his political regime that had been in place since his election in 1999 (Palomares-Salas, 2024). Chavez gained a popular following among poor Venezuelans due to his continued efforts towards both land and social reforms, promising to make Venezuela great again, through movements to independence from foreign intervention (Palomares-Salas, 2024). It had a near cult-like following. Both Trump and Ford were able to gain support through community division, with Ford utilizing the cracks growing due to economic tension within the city of Toronto–and Trump, comparatively, dividing Americans through the pressures of racial tensions. Though both of these politicians were decidedly right-wing, Chavez was staunchly left-wing, even going so far as to court anti-American leftist leaders around the world. Hewas able to simultaneously unite and divide the Venezuelan public through left-wing policies (Palomares-Salas, 2024). 

These three men illustrate the allure of highly recognizable public figures with simple messaging who often gain popularity among the “working man”. Another commonality between Ford, Trump, and Chavez is the image preset of being an anti-establishment, outside man who would come and shape things up for the benefit of those previously ignored by the government. Doing so is highly appealing to groups of voters who feel that previous leadership failed to hear and address their concerns. By using messaging with the tone of “I love you, and you love me, and we all hate the same people”, a political ideology is created that surpasses the typical and historically dominant logic of politics and policy.

In general, the popularity of Chavez in Venezuela, the lasting memory of Ford in Toronto, and the (foreseeably unprecedented) influence of Donald Trump in the United States display the popularity of charismatic political leaders. These politicians seem increasingly to resemble reality television stars, rather than the more bureaucratic, professional politicians that had previously inhabited political office around the world. 

References

Douglas, A. (2021) The Striking Similarities Between Rob Ford and Donald Trump. Inquire Publication. Accessed from: https://inquirepublication.com/the-striking-similarities-between-rob-ford-and-donald-trump/

Luce, E. (2024) Democracy dies in Trumpian boredom. The Financial Times. Accessed from: https://www.ft.com/content/35106042-2e96-4dde-8cf6-734c6e89fd9e

Palomares-Salas, C. (2024) Lecture: Venezuela. [In Person Lecture]. LLCU 248: Latin America Cultural Contexts. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada. 

Thompson, D. (2020). The Deep Story of Trumpism. The Atlantic. Accessed from: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/12/deep-story-trumpism/617498/

Image Source: 

TheDigitalArtist. (n.d) Trump Support Free Photo. [Electronic Image]. Accessed from: https://www.needpix.com/photo/852963/trump-president-support-conflict-republican-politics-usa-free-pictures-free-photos