Still in the race: understanding Trumpism

Battle of Ideas festival 2023, Sunday 29 October, Church House, London


Trump is perhaps the most widely vilified political leader of modern times – yet he retains a huge measure of support. So seemingly assured of securing the Republican nomination that he can forgo the candidates’ televised debates, he also transformed his arrest for interfering with the 2020 election into a world-shaking media opportunity, with his mugshot reverberating across the globe. But what underpins his appeal?

For some, it is precisely the relentless demonisation of Trump that generates the appeal – whatever Trumpists think of some of his policies or personal conduct, they identify with his vilification by the same liberal, coastal elites who denounce them as ‘deplorables’. Others insist that Trump invents and exploits animosities against immigrants and evokes a ‘paranoid’ vein in American politics. Or perhaps Trump simply appeals to voters fed up the stale consensus that has dominated American politics – or maybe he just livens things up.

What explains Trumps’ enduring appeal, and how should liberals, conservatives and populists alike respond?

Mary Dejevsky
former foreign correspondent in Moscow, Paris and Washington; special correspondent in China; writer and broadcaster

Matthew Feeney
writer; head of technology and innovation, Centre for Policy Studies; former director, Cato Institute’s Project on Emerging Technologies

Michael Goldfarb
journalist and historian, creator, FRDH Podcast; documentary maker, Evangelical or Political Christianity?; author, The Martyrdom of Ahmad Shawkat

Dr Cheryl Hudson
lecturer in US political history, University of Liverpool; author, Citizenship in Chicago: race, culture and the remaking of American identity

Jacob Reynolds
head of policy, MCC Brussels; associate fellow, Academy of Ideas