Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Trumpism

In a few other posts [here and here], we poked at the idea that the theme driving Trump’s campaign, Make America Great Again, may be emotional nostalgia — for a time in America when the only barrier to success was one’s willingness to work for it, jobs were plentiful, and the stock market was booming — and that nostalgia is triggering a new wave of patriotism and longing for the ‘American Dream’. Yet, before the traditional ‘American Dream’ brand of stars, stripes, and freedom can be restored, there are a few important issues to tackle: immigration and the US economy.

What is the American Dream? Depends on who you ask.

While fear that the ‘American Dream’ may be a relic of the past continues to fuel Trumpism, the definition of the ‘American Dream’ differs greatly, especially among Democrats.

american dream chart

Nearly two-thirds, of both Republicans (72%) and Independents (73%), more closely associate the ‘American Dream’ with the feeling that hard work is a more important component to success than place of origin — the perfect audience for Trump, who is perceived by many as a successful business man. Democrats, on the whole tend to agree (58%), but 42% of self-identified Democrats find the ‘American Dream’ to be the notion of equality, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

The Competition — Immigrants and The Labor Force

There’s one thing that all Democrats (87%), Republicans (86%), and Independents (87%) can agree on: the United States is a nation of immigrants. However, the perception that immigrants have a negative impact on the labor force and social services varies between parties. Republicans are more likely than either Democrats or Independents to hold a strong nativist sentiment around beliefs that immigrants create unnecessary competition in the labor force and siphon social service aid from homegrown Americans. But, if the labor force and job growth appear to be weak, the gap narrows between parties and the majority believe that country of origin should be considered.

new nativism

Can Government Help Restore The American Dream?

As it relates to the ‘American Dream’ and the Republican’s nervousness surrounding the country’s economic future, government involvement in America’s economy is a key concern, especially among Tea Party supporters.

Varying degrees of nativist sentiment continue to reflect the notion that Republicans and those with strong nativist tendencies are less likely to agree the government should be involved in the economy, with those with very little or no nativist tendencies find government involvement more favorable.

On a scale of 0-10, how much involvement, if any,

do you think the US Government should have on America’s economy?

(0 means no involvement at all and 10 means complete involvement)

nativism scale

As expected, those that indicate they identify with the ideals of the Tea Party movement express similar views.

other nativism scale

It’s still interesting to note that of those that identify strongly with the ideals of the Tea Party movement, 41% are strongly in favor of the government’s involvement in the US economy.

First Come, First Serve

Across the board, Democrats are less likely than Republicans or Independents to agree that immigrants are a competitive force in the labor market and are unjustly utilizing social services meant for homegrown Americans. However, when times are tough, the majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents agree that being of native origin should be a Trump card – that those born and raised in the US should have a competitive advantage in the labor force over immigrants.