Who really likes Donald Trump? Who actually believes in what he's saying? These are the questions confounded liberals are asking themselves on a daily basis, as it becomes more and more likely that The Donald will be in with a chance of becoming president.
Most lefties tend to paint Trump supporters as either racist, idiotic or both. "Hideous, disgusting racists: Let's call Donald Trump and his supporters exactly what they are," wrote one commentator. Left-wing movements like Occupy Democrats have put out videos which claim that "Donald Trump fans are as dumb as you think".
Some even got scientific about it: "If ignorance is an indication of one's IQ, Donald Trump supporters have an average of between 85 and 100." Putting crass stereotypes of dumb Americans aside, how are people getting away with classing a vast number of the population as brainless and bigoted?
Trump's big pull is his anti-establishment stance, his rejection of the You Can't Say That culture propagated by American liberals. Recent events in America – the legalisation of gay marriage, the explosion of campus censorship and the current war over transgender bathrooms – have given rise to a feeling that there are certain beliefs that just aren't allowed.
Trump finds his support among those who have been told that they are not allowed to think what they want and say what they think. But Trump is not the unsung hero of the American underdog, he isn't the voice of working-class America, as many of his vocal supporters might claim.
His backward political ideas seek to hold back working-class Americans, racialising their discontent with US economic policy and offering no political argument to change their quality of life or prospects. Not so long ago, he was a business tycoon, a New York elite and a proud liberal, rubbing shoulders with his now-rival Hillary Clinton. The idea that this tanned phenomenon has suddenly become the voice of the ordinary man is a little far fetched, to say the very least.
Read more: How Donald Trump's radical right-wing message defined a movement
But, nevertheless, he is winning support, much like Nigel Farage made small gains in the British 2015 general election. This was not because the UK was becoming decidedly more racist, as many on the centre-left claimed, but because Farage was the only politician willing to answer questions honestly and, more importantly, put the question of what the working class in Britain wanted at the centre of his campaign.
Yes, his answer – more control over immigration – was pretty backward, but he was addressing an issue that had been hush-hushed in British political discussion for years. Like Farage, Trump is telling those who have previously been silenced that he is the only one who will speak up for them.
Like Farage, Trump is telling those who have previously been silenced that he is the only one who will speak up for them.
In this way, left-liberal critics of Trump are shooting themselves in the foot. By rolling their eyes at I Heart Trump caps and planting ethnic minorities into Trump rallies looking for the racist in the crowd, they only emphasise their disdain for ordinary people.
Instead of challenging those with opposing views, or offering better political solutions to the bizarre promise of a wall around Mexico, they choose to point the finger. The more the American elite freaks out about the comb-over racist threatening to run the country, the more ordinary Americans realise that the Clintons and Bushes of America hate them – and hate what they believe in.
There is no merit in supporting Trump – he will bring about no beneficial social change in America. Not only are his policies poor, his lack of principles should scare American voters. Trump has swung from being a member of the elite to the voice of the angry working man overnight, not through persuasive political argument but by completely refashioning his identity.
His switch from pro-choice to jailing women who have abortion is a perfect example of his willingness to drop his principles and follow popular support at all costs. His pandering to the worst prejudices of his voters, though he in all probability does not share them, is a sign that he is not to be trusted. Trump wants to make himself great again, not America.
Both Trump supporters and the man himself share a contempt for the American public. While Trump nods along to anything that might get him a vote, the American elite ignore all concerns raised by those who do not toe the politically correct line. The ones who will lose out in these elections are the American working class, who are being completely pushed out from political discussion, either patronised by Trump or discarded by his competitors.
Instead of calling Trump supporters racists, we should champion the political argument of free movement. Instead of calling Trump a woman-hater, we should make the pro-choice argument in terms of women's freedom. Pointing the finger, and screaming 'racists', only seeks to polarise these issues further. If you want Trump to win, keep calling him a bigot. He might even put it on a badge.
Read more in our series on Generation Trump.