Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Trump has a purpose after all

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People are registering to vote in record numbers, many to make sure Donald Trump does not win. Photo / AP
People are registering to vote in record numbers, many to make sure Donald Trump does not win. Photo / AP

There's a message in my Facebook inbox from a man who noticed I was visiting the US. He wanted to tell me about his Kiwi uncle who lives in North California.

After 30-plus years, the uncle is finally applying for US citizenship so he can vote for Donald Trump.

This news should have political junkies around the world popping the cork on the good bottle they've been saving.

For all his faults, candy floss-haired Trump may be the messiah of American politics.

Getting people who don't vote to make a trip to the ballot box is no small achievement.

I can't tell you how many Politics 107 classes my lecturer spent lamenting the declining voter turnout.

The danger is that the fewer voters participate, the more space there is for things to go wrong.

It is normally educated rich people who vote, so when politicians make decisions, they reward the educated rich who put them there.

They don't reward the uneducated poor because that won't win them votes. And when things go wrong, they start taking privileges and rights away from those uneducated poor.

US voters are some of the least likely to care. Nearly half the country's citizens don't bother to vote in the presidential elections.

Hispanics seem to care less than anyone in the US. Even though they make up 17 per cent of the population, in the elections four years ago, they made up only 10 per cent of voters.

This is where Trump comes in and, to be fair, Bernie Sanders, too.

Sanders is promising free tertiary education in a country accustomed to user-pays. He's advocating a 10 per cent surcharge on billionaires in a country where kids are taught to strive to get rich, but few do.

His policies are radical but Bernie's Bros love them. They're young men who care enough this election to vote when young men are normally some of the hardest to get to the ballot box.

Arguably, Sanders' policies are more constructive than the ones promoted by the reality star with the gymnastic face.

Trump wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico and register all Muslims. But, he also wants to create and retain jobs for Americans.

And that's got Americans voting.

In Pennsylvania, 50 per cent of Republicans voted in the primaries. That's double the number who turned out in the last two elections.

Across all states, Trump has taken a total of 10.9 million votes so far. That's more than any Republican candidate ever has.

On the flip side, to keep him out of office, Hispanics are registering to vote in bigger numbers than the last election.

In a strangely undemocratic twist, some in the US would rather Trump's supporters didn't vote. They think his supporters are racist, misogynists, blue-collar workers and uniformly stupid.

But democracy doesn't require an IQ test. Stupid people are allowed to vote, too.

And here's the weird thing. According to exit polls, Trump's supporters earn more and are better educated than the average American. Yet they still don't normally vote.

They did everything right to achieve American success - wealth - only to find themselves stuck firmly in the middle class with huge debts and wages that aren't increasing.

They've voted for their congresspeople and senators and presidents only to find themselves disappointed by politicians drawing a salary and doing nothing.

So, they're voting Trump in the hope he'll shake things up.

He already has. Trump has shown Washington that although they're living cosy lives, normal Americans feel like they're struggling. He has proven that you don't have to play by political rules to become a nominee for President.

He has reminded the voters that the power lies with them, not with the political elite in Washington.

He has got people - even the stupid ones - voting.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something trying very hard to avoid growing up. So far it’s working, except for the husband, the mortgage and the proper job. She lives between Auckland and Wellington. When she’s not writing for the Herald on Sunday, she co-hosts TV3’s 7pm current affairs programme Story.

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