Donald Trump’s shock electoral victory, confirmed in the early hours on Wednesday 9 November, should be of no surprise to us at all. His success is based on one irrepressible source of popularity that many commentators during the campaign simply failed to acknowledge. This is the fact that Trump is a business-man in a country where the owners of wealth are kings.
During the election campaign, a frequent response to the follow-up question of why people were voting for Trump was that he was seen as a successful businessman, and it was about time that a businessman ran the country. This attribute contributed massively to his popularity, and was indeed crucial for his eventual electoral success.
To understand why this is, one doesn’t have to look further than the American economic system. Twentieth century American economic growth was idealised under the romantic title of the ‘American Dream’, where theoretically any man or woman who sacrificed the time and worked hard enough could secure for themselves a decent lifestyle, if not vast wealth.
In reality, most Americans were hampered by their socioeconomic background, but still managed to secure living standards better than their parents.
It was not to last. Wages steadily began to stagnate around 30 years ago.
Indeed, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) illustrated this by citing the stagnation of hourly wages as “the most important economic issue facing most American families”. Despite all the hopeful rhetoric, the American dream was dying.
The response to this stagnation? Trump came along: a man so brazen about his huge fortunes that he had his own name emblazoned upon the side of his private jet.
This was perhaps revoltingly vain to more restrained Europeans, but to millions of hard-up Americans, this was the dream, the lifestyle they wanted.
In a country where how much you earn determines your success, and how successful you are begins to determine your worth, it is of little surprise that Trump managed to secure victory. He is, whether we like it or not, one of the most successful people in his field.
Trump was the very embodiment of the American Dream; with huge towers erected under his name, he seemed to reflect perfectly the adoration of wealth seen across American culture, from film to music to literature.
Except in reality Trump did not make it against all the odds. Instead, he was heavily reliant on the backing of his wealthy father. He has also managed to go bankrupt an impressive six times and although he claims to be worth $10bn the figure estimated by Forbes are closer to the region of $3bn.
Of course in the election all this detail did not matter; he gave the impression of wealth and success and that is all he needed to do.
So if we want to know the real reason for Trump’s shocking victory, we need look no further than his extremely obvious wealth. A fortune that in the American system is idealised by huge swathes of the electorate. Trump, a businessman in a country where the owners of wealth are kings. Now no one is President.