The political and social elite have pigeonholed Trump supporters as a bunch of angry xenophobes and racists. Perhaps a few are, but what the detached talking heads can’t seem to grasp is that, for the most part, Trump supporters are not angry at immigrants. They are angry at the elite class, and for good reason.
Donald Trump upended the Republican political establishment and has a legitimate chance of becoming president because he said publicly what many people in America have known for a long time: The political and economic system is rigged. The fix is in. The majority of Trump supporters understand it is not immigrants who rigged the system, but the economic and social elite who are abusing immigration policy to affect radical economic and societal changes to the country that most Americans do not support.
The anger at the political and economic elite is not limited to Trump supporters. As the Democratic National Convention kicked-off this week, a trove of leaked emails left no doubt that the people who control the levers of power in this country will go to great lengths to thwart the public will. The emails confirmed what Bernie Sanders, like Trump, has been saying. Our democracy has been hijacked and the core interests of the majority of Americans are being willingly sacrificed to achieve the economic and social ends of the powerful.
Trump captured the Republican presidential nomination (and Sanders might very well have captured the Democratic nomination if the process had been fair) by simply naming the problems. To many voters, fed up with the status quo, the solutions they are offering are less important than their willingness to acknowledge the frustrations and discontent of the electorate.
For decades, the economic and social elite have not just ignored the concerns many Americans have expressed about mass and poorly controlled immigration. What they have done is much worse than that. Opinion makers have insulted the intelligence and integrity, and impugned the motives of people who question the wisdom of unchecked immigration.
In response to complaints about mass immigration, legal and illegal, the elite have responded patronizingly by telling American workers and taxpayers that they are not smart enough to understand what is in their own best interests. The typical response to workers who have seen their jobs taken or their wages depressed as a result of mass immigration are high-handed stacks of economic “studies” (produced by other elites) that arrogantly tell these workers that they’re just imagining the problem.
As if insulting the intelligence of millions of Americans is not bad enough, the globalists have attacked the very integrity of those who want immigration reduced and laws enforced. Those who speak up are denounced as small-minded bigots and accused of scapegoating immigrants. As a matter of fact, the mere expression of anger or fear is in itself a disqualification. And, because the elite have determined that those who object to mass immigration and lawlessness are people of bad character, their concerns can be righteously dismissed.
The appeal of Donald Trump is that he is validating the concerns of millions of Americans, assuring them that they are not bad people for harboring those concerns, and confirming that they are being sold out by the political establishment.
After decades of deliberate suppression by the elite, Trump named the problem. In his acceptance speech, he literally named the victims – people whose lives and families were destroyed not just at the hands of illegal aliens, but by a political and social class that is, at best, indifferent to their plight and, at worst, hostile to it.
Regardless of whether one supports Trump, he has done a valuable service by exposing what is at the core of public concern about our immigration policies. It is a class of people whose jobs, communities, schools and other vital interests are immune from the adverse consequences of excessive immigration, while shoving it down the throats of those who are being harmed by mass immigration.
Those who take issue with Trump’s solutions need to stop denying that a problem exists and step forward with something more than ad hominem attacks against those who speak up.
Dan Stein is president of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)