Trump as President: Student Talks Politics with NYT Columnist Thomas Edsall

On November 8th, 2016,the citizens of the US went to the polls to cast their vote for the 45th president of the United States. Donald Trump was elected to the office of the President of the United States, even though he did not win the popular vote. The county is divided in its reaction to the results of the election. While some people find Trump’s victory a triumph and a promise for positive change, others are apprehensive about what his term may look like and what actual changes he will bring about.

A few weeks ago I interviewed Thomas Edsall, the New York Times Weekly Opinion Columnist, about what how a Trump presidency can affect us all. The interview took place before the election, but the quotes are still in context and reflect Mr. Edsall’s opinions on Donald Trump.

When Thomas Edsall was in college he started noticing the coverage following the civil rights movement. “It was extraordinary. Especially the New York Times”, he said. Edsall graduated and planned to go to law school, but his father told him that they would not be able to afford the expenses of law school, and that he would not be able to go. A few weeks later, a friend of his who was working at a local newspaper invited him to visit him at the job. “I was hooked for life,” Edsall said. He has been a journalist ever since, and for the past 25 years has worked at the New York Times and the Washington Post.

When asked about the main issues the US is facing today, Edsall notes there is a fundamental problem with race relations in our country. “Anti-black beliefs among whites are becoming more and more [frequent], and Trump is tapping into this,” he said. “He is tapping into certain groups of people” using “highly controversial opinions.” Edsall claims that the reason for Trump’s popularity is that he is representing the voice of white voters who have felt suppressed since the end of the Civil Rights Movement.

“Trump’s [rhetoric] appeals to people seeking a past [that promised] more jobs and all- white neighborhoods”. In his article “God Loves Donald Trump. Right?”,  Edsall uses statistics showing that over 68% of Republicans think that the American way of life has lost its allure. Even Trump’s slogan, Make America Great Again, Edsall argues, demonstrates his nostalgic view to back when America was “great”. 

According to Edsall, Trump has “a presidential fever”. He says Trump would do practically anything for power, from calling the election rigged to encouraging violence against Hillary. Even if Trump had lost this election, Edsall contends, he would have just run again in 2020, and asserted that everyone deserves a second chance.

Trump’s ignorance of rules and loathing of political correctness strengthens him among white voters in America, and white supremacy is on the rise again. Edsall explains that Trump’s nationalist agenda exemplifies how his presidency would look like, and demonstrates how he is, in effect, making America white again.