This week’s episode of Panorama focused on answering the question on all our minds: who voted for Trump?
The sheer power of the media in influencing public opinion is astounding. The news is omnipresent; headlines, articles and interviews loom over our heads and infiltrate virtually every area of society. One of the by-products of the media is the stirring up of public opinion; any political figure can be annihilated by one news headline. The focus of this week’s episode of Panorama was ‘Trump’s New America’; in interviewing different groups of people from different areas, Hilary Andersson tries to get to the bottom of this result. Who are the people who voted for Donald Trump?
The Presidential campaign of Donald Trump was largely facilitated by the strategic use of popular media, with many of his actions dominated by the controversy of the policies which allowed him to win the American election. Trump’s victory has naturally been conveyed in many different ways by the American media. The reaction of the American public to the result fluctuated between triumph and despair, making it difficult to make a definitive statement about the general American public opinion. It is easier to make a general statement about how the British media have reacted to this; news headlines have largely emphasised the fatality of Trump’s success and the uncertainty of the future which follows.
Though the BBC have attempted to avoid political bias in interviewing a handful of Trump’s closest friends and political allies, the sentiment of fear perpetuated by minority groups interviewed on the programme is overpowering. Trump’s main political advisor was interviewed on the programme, describing Trump as a ‘genuine’ and ‘kind’ man: who is the real Donald Trump? Is he a creation of the media? Nonetheless, the implication of Trump’s advocates contextualises this election result and the power he wields as a result of it. This programme really hammered home that it is possible to be accused of rape, racism, misogyny, and discrimination, and still win a general election with peers willing to defend your honour.
Throughout his election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly made discriminatory and offensive comments towards minority groups such as the LGBT community, women, ethnic minorities, and the disabled. Anyone who wasn’t white, straight or male was in danger of being situated at the receiving end of this abuse. The fears of the people who have been targeted by Trump’s inherent misogyny, racism, and discrimination are strongly captured within this episode of Panorama; these fears have been similarly expressed within British media over the past week. The camera follows the concerns of students at the University of Houston in Victoria; one student markedly expresses her fears and concerns for the future, given that she is a woman, Hispanic, and disabled; what does America’s future hold for her?
Even more poignantly, the programme meets the mother of a man who was shot dead by police in his own home after she dialled 911 with concerns that his schizophrenia was raging out of control. She sought the support of the authorities; these same authorities ultimately betrayed her. Thus far, 800 people have been shot dead by the police in 2016, and a significant number of these fatalities have been black Americans. Obama fought throughout his presidency for the rights of black Americans; the same might not be said for his successor. What does the future hold for these minority groups?
The programme both begins and ends with the appearance of those who voted for Trump, with a focus on the deep South and the various different groups of people who advocated him throughout his campaign. Many of the news headlines which have reported his victory have focused solely on demographics and statistics; by putting faces to the electoral body who voted for Trump, the result of the election becomes a more realistic concept. It is important that we remind ourselves that the outcome of this election was not decided by an alien population, but by human beings; the very same human beings will live to endure the decisions of the man for whom they have voted. Politics is not such a distant concept as it might sometimes appear to be: the American election has struck many down to reality, and this is a sentiment which is clearly defined within this episode of Panorama.