Tuesday, 8 March 2016

U.S.: The GOP & Donald Trump's Trumpism

Donald Trump is winning Republican presidential primaries at such a great rate that he seems likely to become the next Republican presidential nominee and perhaps the next president. Democrats have little understanding of why he is winning--and winning handily, and even many Republican do not see him as a Republican and are trying to stop him, but do not know how.

Trump, the 70- year old, embodies a new harshness and brutality, and both physical and emotional crudeness. Trump has launched an uprising of the indecent, one that is now much bigger than himself, a popular movement of white, conservative America that after eight years under Democratic President Barack Obama, yearns for a leader who will usher in the counter-revolution. 

The 2008 financial crisis, which caused parts of the US economy to unravel and deprived millions of Americans of their economic foundation, is the main reason why many Americans are receptive to a man like Trump. The Economy has been growing again since then, but in absurdity unfair ways. As inequality becomes more and more glaring, many Americans feel they have been left alone with their concerns, and they feel disconnected and betrayed.

The current primary race underscores how much this frustration has already changed the country. It has enabled Bernie Sanders, an extreme leftist by American standards, to become a serious threat to Hillary Clinton. And it is preparing the ground for Trump's campaign against all the elites, even though Trump himself has spent his entire life as a member of the country's economic elite. Many Americans, especially whites and those with relatively little education, are now more receptive than ever to audacious promises and simplistic solutions. But they are also receptive to a form of politics that blames immigrants and minorities for their own fate, and for the race-baiting that has been part of every authoritarian movement to date. Trump offers all of these things, and he offers them more skillfully, professionally and self confidently than all others candidates.

Currently, America is running the risk of falling for a self-proclaimed leader with a low opinion of fundamental democratic values.  Trump is unique figure. He is so wealthy that his campaign is almost entirely self financed. thanks to his colorful life as a New York real estate mogul and star of the reality TV Show ''The Apprentice'', he enters the presidential race with a celebrity factor like no other candidate before him. But his most unique characteristic is his lack of scruples. But for his millions of supporters, they are further evidence of Trump's boldness and strength. 

Trump rails against Washington as the symbol of a degenerate political system that does not get things done anymore. Trump is calling for isolation in the form of protective tariffs, entry bans and border walls. He inflames tensions against ethnic minorities and offers anxious citizens the authoritarian vision of a strongman who will solve all problems on his own--while ignoring democratic conventions, Trump is presumably only the shrillest and most prominent embodiment of a trend that is becoming pervasive throughout the Western world.

Trump' success resides on the same principle as the campaign victories of Obama. In fact: when a president leaves office after eight years, voters tend to prefer a candidate who is as different as possible from the incumbent, in terms of politics, character and habits. By that logic, Obama, the integrator, who fought against discrimination against blacks and gays, would be followed by a President Trump who stirs up hatred against minorities and claims that ''political correctness'' is the greatest threat to the United States. 

While Obama sought to explain complex problems, often sounding like an intellectual in the process, studies have shown that Trump speaks at fourth-grade reading level. Problems, according to Trump, are ''totally easy'' to solve. And while Obama appeared to the common ''we'' in his campaign slogan ''yes we can'', Trump's version reads: ''Yes, I can''

If there's basic idea behind Trump's campaign, it is his own leadership strength. He seems to want to govern in the same way that he became a billionaire---despite a few bankruptcies along the way. Although he previously held liberal positions on some divisive issues, like weapons possession and abortion, he is now presenting himself as a firm opponent of abortion and a huge fan of guns. He is raised other reasonable ideas in the past as well; He once called for a government-financed healthcare system that would be accessible for everyone. He also advocated for a tax on the super rich to reduce US government debt. Indeed, his Republican opponents have been reminding the public of these statements in the form of video clips aimed at damaging the candidate. They include sentences like ''I probably identify more as Democrat''. 

For his part, though, Trump acts as if this past never even existed. He presents his new, ultraconservative positions in the most populist of ways and with even greater determination. Trump, the entrepreneur, does business all around the world. Ironically, however as president, he would limit any free trade not conducted according to his own rules. In order to shrink the trade deficit with China, he proposes imposing high punitive tariffs on Chinese exports to the US. He promises to bring back all the American jobs that have been lost to Asia or Mexico as a result of globalization. Voters are expected to trust that Trump will be as effective a diplomatic negotiator as he was a business negotiator. 

When it comes to international politics, Trump prefers to rely on his own personal experiences and impulses than on textbooks. For example, he does not consider North Korea to be American problem, but rather one which China must solve. He offers a similar approach for addressing the war in Syria, where he feels the problems should be dealt with locally and that there is no need for intervention.

Trump nevertheless says he wants to bomb the hell out of the Islamic State. To accomplish that, Trump claims he wants to give US generals free hand, saying they already know what needs to be done. What Trump does not reveal, unfortunately, is how alliances are even supposed to be forged with Muslim countries against the IS by a United States that places Muslims under a State of general suspicious and refuses to allow them to travel into the country as he has proposed doing. During his campaign, he has often repeated the fact that he heavily criticized the Iraq war in 2003. The way things look right now, the world is going to have to brace for a US foreign policy based on gut feelings.

The question now is whether such a political course, and indeed a President Donald J. Trump, an even still be prevented. and who could stop him? The possibilities could include the Republicans themselves, a party Trump seems to work on based on his mood or whim. And then, of course, there are Democrats, whose probable candidate, Hillary Clinton, Trump will likely have to square off against in the main election. But neither side can be fully trusted to defeat Trump. 

For a long time, nether Republican Party officials nor the media recognized the true dimensions of the movement that Trump was forming. They continued to poke fun at him, even as he was creating a revolutionary mood on the right margin of society. Now it could be too late, and Trump could be the one getting the last laugh. Like it or not, it is time to take Donald Trump seriously. Never before has the grand, time honored Republican Party been as helpless and hapless as it is right now. The party' s leadership had sought an establishment candidate like Jeb Bush or the younger Marco Rubio. But Trump? 

The Republican Party is in total chaos. The party is divided and that a Trump's candidacy could spell the end of the Grand Old Party. Trump is viewed as the founder of new political movement---Trumpism-- that has little in common with the traditional conservatism on the right. The level of frustration among many Republicans officials is no longer a secret. The question being discussed the most right now within the Party is what the GOP's response should be if Trump wins the first primaries. Should he be embraced in order to share the success? Or should the party take a more hostile approach in the hope that a more reliable candidate may ultimately prevail? Currently, the faction that views Trump as representing the downfall of conservatism is dominating. But within the party base, however, there are a growing number of voices reminding that America is the country of freedom and that politics is open competition. There is also growing sentiment that Trump might stand a good chance even against Hillary Clinton. 

Inside the Democratic Party, optimism is in the air. For a long time, the Clinton camp fantasized about taking on Trump. The way they saw it, it would be Clinton, an experienced, middle-of -the-road candidate, versus Trump, the radical leader of the old, white guard. Many democratic strategists viewed such a matchup as a unique opportunity. Vice President Joe Biden said if Trump won the Republican nomination, Hillary Clinton would ''win in a walk''.

In the meantime, it has become apparent that Clinton can't even rely on the unconditional support of her own people. For many, she represents a political system that is symbiotically entwined with big business. Trump, the big capitalist, however, bills himself as someone who is not for sale. He doesn't accept big donations and doesn't owe anyone anything. The fact that he, unlike Clinton, has never held a political office is an advantage in this election campaign. 

The widespread about the status quo within the American electorate and his ability to handle the modern media better than anyone else in the race would make Trump a strong opponent in the general election. But many democrats are not panicking yet. There are betting on Clinton's campaign coming around and gaining momentum once she secures the nomination. At the same time, they are anxious that this could become the dirtiest duel in the history of American presidential campaigns.

The implosion over Donald J Trump's candidacy that Republicans had hoped to avoid has arrived so virulently that many party leaders vow never to back the billionaire and openly question whether the GOP could come together this year. At a moment when Republicans had hoped to begin taking on Hillary Clinton--who is seemingly on her way to wrapping up the Democratic nomination, the GOP has instead become consumed by a crisis over its identity and core values that is almost certain to last through the July party convention, if not the rest of the year.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Investigative Journalist
Political Analyst/Writer
World Affairs Expert

Photo-Credit: Agence France Presse photo of Donald J Trump's campaign