The American Presidential election is still nine months away but it is already grabbing headlines thanks to Donald Trump’s controversial candidacy.
And Politics students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) got the insider’s view of the race for the White House thanks to Professor Steven Pressman, Professor of Economics at Colorado State University.
Prof Pressman, editor of the Review of Political Economy, used the story of America’s economy to show how millionaire Trump has been able to appeal to predominantly lower middle class families in the US.
He said: “If you think about the time between the 1980s and right now, the share of all the income generated across the United States going to the top 10% richest people has increased from less than 35% to about 50%.
“The productivity of the average worker has increased and increased but wages are flat or declined.
“These cities, where factories have closed, people are in largely service jobs, are home to blue collar workers with few opportunities and little hope. This is where Donald Trump has gained a great deal of support.”
Policies of bailing out banks following the financial crisis but doing little to help homeowners in negative equity, and pursuing tax cuts in the hope of boosting the economy have led to a “disgruntled, angry voters who feel the political system is rigged against them,” he said.
However, he said while Trump was ‘to the left’ of the Republican candidates, he had “brought down the level of debate tremendously – it’s now a horrible food fight.”
Prof Pressman, who is in the UK on a book tour, said the Donald Trump issue had been top of most people’s minds during his visit.
He said: “Since I arrived here in the UK a week ago, pretty much the question I keep getting asked is ‘what’s the matter with you Americans? How can you possibly think of Donald Trump as a reasonable president?’
“What’s interesting is that in polls done so far, people have put Trump as their first choice, and Bernie Sanders as second, or vice versa. They are voting for outsiders, for people who are not part of the system.”
American Politics student Ghulam Mohueddin said: “I found the talk incredibly interesting and informative. It was interesting to have an economic background to the issues.
“The presidency is a spectacle. I’m glad I’m in the UK, though. If I lived in the United States I would be petrified.”
Next week, some DMU politics students will experience the election fever for themselves when Dr Clodagh Harrington takes a group of them to Washington. The tour – part of a #DMUglobal visit – even includes a visit to the White House.
Dr Harrington said: “We are very grateful to Prof Pressman for talking to our students. It’s an absolutely fascinating election and I think the students got a lot from his views on what has happened so far and predictions for the future.”
Posted on Wednesday 9th March 2016