The Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a controversial figure to put it mildly. Taking America by storm, Trump has moved from an amusing and off-the-wall-contender to nominee, with an enormously large backing. What’s clear is that Trump and Clinton are in a head-to-head match with polls continuously fluctuating. But not only are the American public divided over Trump’s opinions and behaviour, it appears that the British are equally as engrossed in the election rivalry. That said, there is very little coverage of how British students perceive Trump.
We’ve asked Nina, one of our writers, to go on a hunt to find out what students across the UK really think of the man behind the hair.
A quote widely attributed to Winston Churchill is that ‘If you are not a Liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a Conservative at 35, you have no brain.’ Whilst this is an oversimplification, it does speak some truth in underlining that young people generally position themselves on the Left of the political scale. It was perhaps for this reason that I struggled to find young British students who were also Trump sympathisers.
Nevertheless, I was able to find Dylan, 22, from North-West England who set up the Britain Supports Donald Trump Facebook page. Asking him where his support for the Republican nominee came from, he told me that he is impressed that Trump is “not afraid to say what is on his mind” and that “he’s not living in somebody’s pocket as he’s a business man, and so he will know how to run a country.”
When I asked him whether he thinks being young affected his views on Trump he said that his views have “nothing to do with his age”, instead he argues that he just doesn’t “let the media and elites brainwash him with rubbish.”
However, I was surprised that he was open to criticize Trump’s stance on one particular issue, global warming, which he said was “misled.”
Dylan concluded by stating that “Hilary Clinton should be in prison” and that “2016 will be a great year to remember, both for Britain and for America.”
However, it seems that the number of British students who oppose and condemn Trump are far greater.
Holly, a Chemistry student at Durham University, said that she finds Trump “dangerously narcissistic.” She believes that he is “not fit to hold public office nor deal with America’s financial issues given that he has filed for bankruptcy of his own businesses four times.”
She says that as a science student, it is particularly worrying that Trump seems to be “continuing the deterioration of the US science culture, which may not recover.” She also states that she is furious that a figure so misogynistic and vulgar has gained popular support amongst American women.
Similarly, Daniel from Keele University says that he is baffled by how quickly Americans can move from the the election of the first black President, which he calls a “milestone in equality”, to nominating Donald Trump.
“As someone who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘Brexit’ and wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, you literally couldn’t make this guy up. Students my age are always joking around and sharing the ridiculous things he says on Facebook but I can’t join in because it has gone too far to be funny, it’s now terrifyingly real.”
Daniel goes on to say that he cannot understand why people aren’t more alarmed by his talk of abandoning protection to fellow NATO countries and his plan to build a “great, great wall” between the US and Mexico.
When I asked Charlotte from Portsmouth University about her views on Donald Trump she said “I can’t even write a sentence which explains how revolting I find that human being.”
After Barack Obama recently admitted for the first time that Donald Trump could win the forthcoming election, reality is setting in. It is clear that there are British students who are supportive of the Republican candidate, but it seems that those young people are few and far between. Overwhelmingly, British students are just as concerned about the success of Trump as they were about leaving the European Union.
If Brexit is anything to go by, then British students are in for a year of disappointment.