In the history of presidential campaigns, no presidential candidate has ever pandered to so many groups like Donald Trump has. While pandering to a group of people seems inherent in political campaigns, Donald Trump has taken it to a different level that is blatantly hypocritical.
The frequent pandering that we see Donald Trump doing to different groups of people could easily label him as a serial panderer. He also has added a new dimension to pandering by insulting or disparaging people one day then pandering to them the next day.
So what motivates a politician or a person like Donald Trump to be a serial panderer? In their book, Politicians don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness, Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro writes,
The flood of polls has fueled the nearly unquestioned assumption among observers of American politics that elected officials “pander” to public opinion. Politicians, it is charged, tailor their significant policy decisions to polls and other indicators of public opinion.
This is exactly what Donald Trump is doing. Polls have shown him doing poorly with African-Americans, Latinos, white women, and other special interest groups. Although he has little to no record of doing anything specific to help these group, especially African Americans. In August Trump speaking to a predominantly white audience of about 6,000 people, at a rally in Dimondale, Michigan made this appeal to blacks for votes,
Look how much African American communities are suffering under Democratic control. To those I say the following: what do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump? You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your use is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?
Donald Trump has never held public office so he has no obligation to help anyone. If he has any record of helping poor people then he is not bragging about that. If he should be elected president, he offers no indication that he would be a champion for poor people like he suggested in his rally speech in Michigan. Poor people who work minimum wages could benefit from an increase but Trump is against increasing the minimum wage.
When someone like Donald Trump claims that he can fix all the social, economic, and political problems without any proven record, why should anyone believe him? When he insults different groups of people and don’t apologize to them, and then says he love them and promises to make their lives better, why should anyone believe him? When he insults and disrespects Pres. Obama with his Birther conspiracy theory, why should we believe that his integrity is sound and that his intentions and promises are sincere?
Mr. Trump within the past week managed to pander to two major groups. First, to Latinos when he visited Mexico allegedly at the invitation of Pres. Enrique Peña Nieto. His visit came less than a year after he said,
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
Standing at the podium next to Pres. Nieto, Mr. Trump made glowing comments about the Mexican people in a tone that sounded friendly and sincere. This did not reflect the same man who disparaged Mexicans as rapist, criminals, and drug smugglers. Later that evening, he gave what was billed as a major policy speech on immigration in Arizona. In that speech the vitriolic rhetoric was on full display.
A few days later Mr. Trump showed up in a Detroit black church and was shown on TV swaying and singing with church members. He later addressed the church in a pious tone that was uncharacteristic of his bombastic campaign style.
Most political candidates are smart enough to know that pandering is not a good strategy to win an election. A 2013 Huffington Post article commented on over pandering as follows,
Blatant over-pandering can also be an electoral liability. For example, in 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry entered the village grocery store in Buchanan, Ohio and asked store owners Paul and Debra McKnight, “Can I get me a hunting license here?” Kerry bought the license for $140. Though Kerry was actually a hunter, the sight of a Boston patrician speaking in an exaggerated rural dialect was seen by many rural Americans as disingenuous, patronizing and downright insulting.
Because Second Amendment rights always come up in presidential campaigns, presidential candidates whether they are Republicans or Democrats like to pander to gun advocates. Mitt Romney in 2007 did this when he said,
I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life.
It was later revealed that Romney had only hunted twice in his life. In an effort to ameliorate the damage, Romney later said,
I’m not a big game hunter. I’ve made that one clear. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.
Political candidates, who pander to voters, try to make it not look so obvious. Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about doing this. His arrogance and narcissism does not inhibit him from pandering to any group overtly. We will wait for November to see if Americans are willing to bet the house on a man who panders, lacks presidential temperament, and who and has an unprecedented number of flaws.
- Kingston Technical High School Alumni Picnic in Orlando, Florida
- Trump’s Photo-Op and Pandering in Flint, Michigan