Trump's appeal lies in jobs message

It is easy for media around the world to pick up on Mr Donald Trump's inflammatory remarks about Mexicans, migrants and Muslims, as they make compelling stories ("Is it time to take Trump seriously?"; last Friday).

But they miss a key, albeit less sexy, message the Republican presidential hopeful has been consistently delivering and which his supporters are lapping up - that of jobs.

It is important to recognise that lower- and middle-class American workers have been going through tough times.

Five million jobs have been lost since 2000, many outsourced to cheaper overseas manufacturing facilities. In 2014, there were about 47 million Americans, nearly 15 per cent of the population, living under the poverty line, up from about 11 per cent in 2000.

Mr Trump's campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, is underscored by his well-publicised business savvy, no-nonsense decision-making and, ultimately, his qualification as a self-made billionaire who has weathered many an economic storm.

It is not difficult to comprehend his growing appeal, despite the controversial rhetoric.

Mr Trump's promise to bring jobs back to America has captured the hearts and minds of those whose American Dream has been shattered, supposedly by low-wage migrants, free trade agreements, and tariffs, subsidies and taxes beneficial to competing economies.

Everyone wants a brighter, secure future for themselves and their children. Many average Americans seem to agree that a straight-talking businessman as president could give them just that.

Mr Trump's platform of economic reform is not new. Mr Ross Perot, another self-made billionaire, ran for the US presidency in 1992 on the same ticket - to apply his business know-how for the progress of the nation. It will be interesting to see how things turn out in the coming months.

Gurmit Singh Kullar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Trump's appeal lies in jobs message'. Print Edition | Subscribe