The steps toward the 2016 presidential election have had controversy for mortar. As might be expected, opponents have thrown the usual bricks at each other, questioning one another’s experience in political office and history in supporting particular pieces of policy. However, if the race has been polarizing, no candidate has remained a magnet for controversy like Donald Trump. The staff of The South Texan came together to discuss the businessman and his armament of divisive speech.
As staff photographer Veronica Cepeda summarizes, “Donald Trump has caused a great controversy worldwide with his peculiar speeches, and odd expectations for what he wants.” These expectations have included everything from the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States, to a wall stationed between the southern border of the U.S. and Mexico—which, according to Trump, could be funded by the latter nation.
It is for the businessman’s proposals, bent on absurd knees, that bring Trump to staff photographer and reporter Angel Castillo’s mind. “The biggest thing I know him for is that he wants mass deportation of all illegal Mexican immigrants. He even went as far as calling us all rapists, and murderers.” These generalizations, more interested in shock than in truth-value, exclude Trump from Castillo’s sympathies. “I would never vote for Trump because of how he expresses himself. He attacks women, illegal immigrants, and even Muslims.”
Kaitlin Ruiz, managing editor, agrees with Castillo’s reckoning of Trump’s rhetoric. “If Donald Trump’s campaign resonates, it is my opinion that this comes of it being hollow. While running with a byline, ‘Make America Great Again,’ he seems to have scrambled what is meant by the word ‘great.’ His rhetoric has been like a game of ‘duck, duck, goose,’ in which Trump routinely pats a group of people on the head, offering insults while claiming ingenuousness.” His unfavorable attitudes toward minorities are concerning to hear from anyone pointed at the White House. Ruiz adds, “With the power of his words, Trump has not only denounced people. He has kicked diversity and religious liberty as something that he can pull an ace over. I am worried over how these words might amplify still, from the confines of the Oval Office.”
In the view of Angela Garza, photographer and editorial/opinions editor, even Trump’s fellow wrestlers for the GOP nomination class him as someone richer in talk than any show of substance. “‘He is an amazing entertainer,’ proclaimed Ted Cruz of Donald Trump. An entertainer, not a candidate. That’s how his competition views Trump, because it’s true.” Rather than standing behind his lectern with strong policy, he offers noise. “I love how his go-to defense is to start yelling and fall back on his claim that he will ‘make America great again.’ We learned that strategy doesn’t work back in elementary school.”
Raul Altamirano, chief reporter, concurs with her on the emptiness of Trump’s platform. “He can dance behind an empty slogan to appeal to so many disgruntled Americans, but at the end of the day, I want to know: how is he going to accomplish this feat?” Faith in the candidate’s words, by Altamirano’s estimation, is a vote for emptiness. “When most of my family announced to me that they were more than likely going to vote for Trump if he receives the GOP nomination, my heart immediately sank. I couldn’t tell them not to, since every American is entitled to their right to vote for whoever they want, but I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘what a way to throw your vote away.’”
Trump’s value to his hearers is in his being something “different,” Altamirano adds. “Their rationale was that ‘he’s not a politician; he’s not financially motivated to make anybody happy.’…Like every other presidential candidate before Trump, you have to at least imagine that the man has a motive. Whether it’s to make the pocketbook of himself and other millionaires thicker, or to build a wall segregating ourselves from outside forces, I really only have one question for Mr. Trump; what are you going to do to make this country great again?”
Staff reporter Samuel Galindo ties into these thoughts, suggesting that Trump’s soaring following is largely due to past disappointments in the GOP. “Rally after rally, this man stands on a platform saying whatever he wants to—with no regard for whether or not it may offend others or whether or not he is making himself look like a world-class hypocrite. Whatever your take on Trump is, the reason he’s so popular is very clear: failed promises by the Republican Party…people flock to him, thinking that he will actually run this country from a ‘tough-guy’ mindset.” As he concludes, “Trump is a wildcard. He’s temperamental and does not handle criticism well, and while his politically incorrect approach to politics can sometimes be refreshing, in the end, the U.S. needs a leader who can lead with class, dignity, and in a stern, but professional, manner.”