Donald Trump and his 2016 political campaign have been under fire from the outset of his presidential run because of his blatant currying to ignorant and uneducated white voters by stoking the fears of globalization, economic ruin, unlawfulness, racial tensions, election fraud, and a number of other topics sure to get a reaction from his supporters. In fact, he famously stated after winning the Nevada caucus that he loved the “poorly educated,” adding that they were the “smartest” and “most loyal people.” And he was correct in the latter assessment, because after all the racist, misogynistic, antagonistic, and ill-considered comments and stances he’s made, Donald Trump is now looking at voters that are basically loyalists, supporting him no matter what. But the loyalists have now graduated from just being merely the “poorly educated” — they are now the willfully uneducated. And that is far worse than merely lacking a traditional education.
The New York Times recently provided a few poll numbers indicating how difficult it will be for 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to win the general election without the educated white male vote. In fact, he’s doing worse that Mitt Romney did in the 2012 election. Romney won the white male vote by 27 percent. Worse for Trump, according to Napp Nazzworthy at Christian Post, Romney won the college-educated vote by 12 percentage points, while Bloomberg shows that Trump trails Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton at present by 22 percent. This indicates that Trump is losing ground in a demographic that experts say he has to win, especially given his poor showing with women and other minority voting blocs. And he needs this demographic in addition to the uneducated voters he’s pandered to since day one of his campaign.
With just over two months left in the presidential race, Trump’s overall numbers have slid so much that the nonpartisan Brookings Institute demographics expert, William H. Frey, who put together several models of varying voting scenarios, concluded that, according to The Times, even with an “improbably optimistic” outcome of 99 percent of white, non-college-educated men turning out on election day to cast ballots, Trump would still lose the general election by over a million votes. None of Frey’s scenarios ended in a Trump win in November.
So how did Donald Trump’s seeming wildly popular campaign, where he still packs in thousands to hear his speeches, lose its momentum among those that have more than a high school education? It would appear that the unending controversial tweets and comments, from talk of using nuclear weapons to attacking the parents of a war veteran, began to break the tenuous bonds he had with those who were supporting him primarily because he was the Republican Party’s nominee.
The Atlantic pointed out that Donald Trump has had a loyal base, those that say they will stand by him to the general election, of roughly one-quarter of the Republican voting electorate since the beginning of his campaign. That number has remained steadfast, regardless of the many ill-advised controversies in which he’s become embroiled and the avoidable political missteps he’s made, forming a solid base that saw the addition of many Republicans as their favorite candidates fell away during the primary process. But those voters are the aforementioned “more loyal,” and each passing controversy and blunder sees more and more of the higher educated — and those willing to be educated — voters leaving the Trump camp.
Come Election Day, with growing attrition in his poll numbers, it would appear that Donald Trump just might see those much beloved uneducated voters as the remaining few million willing to turn out for him in November. A recent report from Politico shows that a civil war of sorts is occurring on college campuses among the cadres of young Republicans. In fact, Harvard’s Young Republicans refused to endorse Trump, the first time that’s happened in 128 years.
So, if all factors continue in relatively the same vein until November (no game-changing October surprise, no scandalous revelations, what have you), it would appear Donald Trump will go into Election Day with almost no support other than the die-hard, will-never-vote-for-any-other-party Republicans and his uneducated loyalists. What’s more, those same millions of “poorly educated” that he’s empowered will have proven they’re now not actually uneducated, at least not about their favored candidate, given all the coverage Trump has received. With all the negative press (from all across the political spectrum, not just from the Democrats and liberals), his constant mouthing of falsehoods (so many that fact-checker Politifact gave up trying to pinpoint just one overly terrible lie and gave him a collective “2115 Lie Of The Year” award), and his unerring inability to steer his campaign toward more moderate stances, his supporters are now the willfully uneducated — as well as being less educated than their fellow American voters.
At the end of it all, it must be stated that an education is what an individual makes of it, no matter if it is formal, experiential, traditional or non-traditional. A simple lack of a high school or college education does not make an individual unlearned, nor does it mean they are unteachable. But if an individual refuses to be educated when information is there for their edification, then the burden rests on the willfully ignorant or purposely obtuse.
That said, being willfully uneducated is a choice, just like remaining ignorant of available knowledge is a choice. Most of Trump’s base of support might be made up of the poorly educated, but they are also the willfully uneducated, allowing nothing to dissuade them to vote for another candidate, no matter how much information is at hand, no matter what it costs their avowed political party or the elected position of president of the United States. And that type of ignorance and obstinacy, if not rectified, can bolster a very divisive contingent, one that could well be used in future elections to the detriment of the Republican Party and to the nation that its politicians serve.
Donald Trump’s success thus far, his manipulation of the uneducated — and the seemingly satisfied to remain so — electorate, should be taken as a warning shot.
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