OPINION: Donald Trump is helping the progressive movement


Caleb Garbuio, Columnist

President Donald Trump has done more for progressive causes than any progressive activist has in the 21st Century. While Trump is the furthest thing from a progressive president, his tenure in office has inspired progressive activists to take to the streets and voice their concerns.

According to a 2017 NPR article, the Trump presidency has resulted in activism from both sides of the political spectrum. However, Trump’s tenure has resulted in an exponential increase in activism from politically engaged progressives, not conservatives. For example, according to a survey by University of Maryland sociologist Dana Fisher, one-third of the 527 participants randomly sampled in the 2017 Women’s March on Washington had never protested before.

Trump has unified progressives fighting for a variety of issues under due to his pursuit of policies targeting progressive causes. According to a CNN analyst John Blake, Trump has inadvertently caused Americans to face ugly truths about racism and sexism that previous administrations swept under the rug. Through his blatant sexism and policies targeting Muslim immigrants, Trump triggered a “Trumplash,” culminating in a record number of women and Muslim Americans running for office.

 This resulted in the most ethnically and racially diverse Congress in United States history. While it’s difficult to determine causality between Trump’s election and an increase in congressional diversity, there have been significant increases in diverse voices since Trump took office four years ago.

From 2015 to 2019, Congress saw a 21.7% increase in black representatives, a 34.4% increase in Hispanic representatives, a 54.5% increase in Asian voices and a 100% increase in Native American voices.

 However, from 2001 to 2005, prior to the “Trumplash” — there was a 13.9% increase in black voices, which was followed by a 4.9% decrease from 2005 to 2009. Hispanic voices increased by 31.6% from 2001 to 2005 and continue to steadily increase. Asian voices increased 57.1% from 2009 to 2013, and Native American voices increased by 100% from 2009 to 2013.

While Asian voices had increased more and Native American voices equaled the same percentage total under Trump, these percentages are misleading. For example, from 2009 to 2013, Asian voices only increased by five seats, and Native American voices increased their seats by one.

 Since Trump’s election, the number of seats added by each demographic is larger than the other four year spreads. Black representation increased by 10 seats, Hispanic voices increased by 11, Asian voices increased by six and Native Americans increased by two. 

While correlation does not equal causation, there is enough data to suggest that Trump has an impact on the increase in diversity since he took office because of the increase in diverse candidates and an increase in voter turnout. 

While there is a steady upward trend in congressional representatives from different backgrounds, the numbers have grown under the Trump administration. On account of this, more progressive candidates are being elected than ever before.