When Donald Trump was voted to be United States’ next President, he had been able to pull off a major upset and the world couldn’t believe it. Trump was a different fish. He was able to rally unprecedented support from the masses by hurling obnoxious pledges — like promising to build a wall to cordon off Mexican immigrants, banning Muslims from entering America and even threatening to put his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in jail. He became a man who defied all odds without having any political experience.
That win has given him far more confidence than any elected President in the recent history of the United States. That confidence, which will invariably translate to sheer arrogance, will empower Trump to stick to his guns (and to his policy on gun control as well) on every proposal, every pledge he blatantly and unabashedly made during the election campaign.
Building a wall was one of the foundational pledges that helped Trump build a strong support base. While there may be many who might have earlier dismissed Trump’s proposal as an attention-seeking-rabble-rousing gimmick or called it a political bait that he used to reel in potential supporters, they were mistaken. In fact, shortly after Trump became the President-elect, CNN’s senior correspondent Brian Stelter urged people to take Trump’s words at face value. He tweeted, “I think it’s important to take [Trump] at his word…we should listen to what he said…Believe him.”
It seems that we may just have to. A transition team of the President-elect has already released a multi-pronged plan that lists the Trump Administration’s intent to build a wall along the border with Mexico. As per the Trump Transition, the list also includes zero tolerance for criminal aliens, block funding for sanctuary cities, and enforcement of all immigration laws.
In fact, in his “100-day action plan” that Trump announced back in October, when he was still paving his way to the Oval Office, he promised to introduce the End Illegal Immigration Act. The Act “fully funds the construction of a wall on our Southern border,” he said, while reassuring his supporters, “Don’t worry about it – remember I said Mexico’s paying for the wall?…the country of Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such a wall.”
The idea of building a wall and keeping Mexicans out helped Trump gain considerable momentum. He even promised to create a “special deportation task force” that would throw all the undocumented Mexicans out of the country. Back then, the idea seemed ridiculous to many, but to the angry conservative Americans it seemed ingenious.
On the surface, the narrative of ‘building a wall’ was directed at the Mexicans who were illegally living in the United States. Metaphorically, however, the idea implanted a darker, more polemical message in the minds of those who backed Trump – the power to distance themselves from the so-called ‘the other’. In the lexicon of hate that Trump had carefully built, ‘the other’ were the minorities living in America – the blacks, the Hispanics, the Muslims. In effect, Trump was able to establish a new kind of depraved hope amongst his worshipers, positioning himself as the harbinger of white supremacy.
His proposed ban – a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country — made last December for example, also helped him gain tremendous support. It triggered a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in certain parts of the country. The so-called ‘ban’ is mentioned on Trump’s campaign website. While on the day he was declared President-elect, the proposal to enact the ban cryptically disappeared from the website, it reappeared on Thursday. What that means is that Trump’s committed to fulfilling the promises he has made to his supporters. And that’s because Trump owes a lot to them. He’ll be driven to keep them happy.