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Home » News » Letters » ARE WE ON THE VERGE OF TRUMPERICA?

ARE WE ON THE VERGE OF TRUMPERICA?

Publishing Date : 02 February, 2016

Author : MOGOTSI D BALOYI

Although not as enthralling as the 2008 Presidential campaign, the race to the White House always captures the world's imagination. That's not entirely surprising since whoever becomes the US President is widely considered to be the most powerful man in the world, if we set aside the Pope for a minute. It's 2016, and the race to the White House is on its final stretch.

I must say, personally, that I have been less than impressed with the current crop, maybe with the exception of Hillary Clinton. None of the candidates from both parties seems to wield enough clout to command the kind of global pandemonium that Barack Obama elicited when he decided to run two terms ago. But then again, Obama set the bar stratospherically high in terms of oratorical skill and charisma.

Anyway, here we are again. Like all campaigns, it started feverishly with a field of many. But this is a race of attrition, an unforgiving marathon that punishes those who dare run. And, as expected, one by one they've bitten the dust on this forbidding terrain. Even names like "Bush," names synonymous with the American Presidency, almost akin to dynastic political hegemony, have shrivelled as the months went by. Having said that, there's one candidate who has, against all odds and in baffling defiance of rhyme and reason, given this race a breath of fresh air and captivating interest.

The name is Donald Trump. Yup! That multi-billionaire with the funny hairdo famous for filing for bankruptcy! The Donald Trump campaign makes no sense at all. He is, against expectation, the Republican front runner by a stretch going into the primaries slated for February. Donal Trump is the proverbial cat among the pigeons, the spanner in the works. Here is a bigoted, racist, and misogynistic narcissist who just keeps getting more popular with each instance he puts his foot in his mouth! It defies all logic that a man who represents everything a President should not be is the leading candidate in a party that prides itself in its conservatism.

Trump is anything but conservative! He is so liberal he makes liberals look conservative! However, for all his ineptitude in following social convention and consistently violating public speaking protocol, Trump is an astute opportunist who is incredibly smart, recognizes his audiences, and plays to their ignorance - capitalizing on their anger, fears, and sense of victimization to further his political stature. No one does pandering like Trump does. It's classic, dictionary-definition demagoguery.

There's no comparison, of course, but this is exactly the kind of thing leaders like Hitler were so good at. They knew how to play to the crowd's emotion not intellect. His victimhood-peddling allows him to disguise hate and prejudice as hope and justice for poor, anxious Americans. It's still very unlikely Trump can win the general election.

But how many seriously thought he had any real shot at winning the primary, or even holding such a substantial, steadily increasing lead over fifteen of the GOP's supposedly best and brightest candidates for five straight months - in both national and state polling across the United States? I am still very skeptical about Trump going the distance, but I am cautiously skeptical: the more this man is attacked by liberals and the media, and the more he angers the mainstream with his outlandish statements, the more his lead grows. How that happens beats me! The more he plays the fool with his buffoonery, the more popular he seems to get! I must be missing something.

His audience thrives on the you-and-me-against-the-world rhetoric, and Jack and Jill seem to be giving it to them. We (the spectators and his supporters) are all Donald Trump's oxygen, and he knows it. In fact, so ridiculous is the "Trumpmania" that Trump himself recently quipped that if he were to shoot somebody on 5th Avenue he's pretty sure he'd lose no follower! What kind of leading Presidential candidate using a homicide example and doesn't get called out on it? Not only doesn't get called out on it, but nobody seems to be repulsed by it! Incredible! I'll bet my bottom dollar that if a Black man like Obama had said something similar, his campaign would have come to a grinding halt.

Some have pointed to Donald Trump's endurance at the top of the Republican primary polls as an indication that his various absurd and offensive comments have not done him damage. But I think they have done him real harm. This Trump support must be some kind of sick joke. Surely he's getting punked! Trump's racist proposals and rhetoric have solidified the GOP leadership against him and made it easier for other Republicans to argue that the man would be a disaster as the general election nominee against Hillary Clinton, an opponent who Republicans do not want to be President.

The primary process is a long slog that starts in February and ends with the convention in July, and unlike in previous contests where losing candidates have dropped out earlier than they needed to in deference to the clear winner, the other competitors will have little reason to cede the nomination to Mr Trump. If he thought standing on a debate stage for three hours was hard, wait until he has to endure that slog. Numbers don't lie but they can be very misleading.

Trump is actually very unpopular nationally - one recent poll pegged his favourability/unfavourability split at 30% favourable/60% unfavourable - and it's hard to see how he would improve those numbers if nominated. He might be a formidable businessman who made himself a billionaire many times over, but the stubborn fact that won't go away and just might halt the Trump train, is the electorate's knowledge that Mr. Trump has zero experience in public service. Zero. Zilch. Nothing.

Trump has never held an elected position and, tellingly, America has never had a President who was totally inexperienced as far as public service was concerned and was a first time runner. Yes, there have been first time runners who went on to win the race, but those few were military men. Moreover, there is a sizable number of Americans who say they'll be embarrassed to have Trump as President.

There are even rumors that some top military generals and other senior defense officers at the Pentagon have vowed to resign should Trump ascend to the highest office and become Commander-in-Chief. One of the persistent questions of this election is whether Mrs Clinton can motivate lower-turnout, non-White voters to show up to the polls. The presence of Trump at the top of the ticket would be, for Clinton and the Democrats, the best motivator of all. The Republican Party faces a possible nightmare scenario with Trump as its nominee, with two possible outcomes - both of which are unappetizing.

The more likely possibility is that Trump could so offend the general public that the GOP would get a historic electoral drubbing to rival the 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater, who carried only a handful of states and handed over super-majorities to Democrats in Congress and the Senate. Democrats are highly unlikely to win such super-majorities in 2016, but with the Republican ticket headed by a loudmouth bigot who is incapable of filtering his thoughts, they could certainly pick up seats in the House and re-take the Senate. But the other possible outcome is even worse for the GOP: Trump could win the presidency.

Horror! A recent Washington Post article about panic within the Republican establishment, made clear that there are leading figures in the party who are terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. “We’re potentially careening down this road of nominating somebody who frankly isn’t fit to be President in terms of the basic ability and temperament to do the job,” one GOP strategist told the Post. “It’s not just that it could be somebody Hillary could destroy electorally, but what if Hillary hits a banana peel and this person becomes President?” Here is a Republican strategist having nightmares about a Republican candidate winning the White House! But what if he wins? I say America and rest of the world must then brace for Looney Tunes! I see Trump as akin to sending Yosemite Sam to the White House. He'll be the rootin'est, tootin'est, shootin'est gunslinger in the West! I don't see much difference in temperament between Trump and North Korea's Lil' Kim.

Trump has a right to harbor ambitions of the presidency, but he should just stick to tv shows and hotels. I'm not an American and cannot dictate to Americans who they should vote for, but Trump is not their man to "Make America Great Again." Uh-uh. No, sir. Should they err in that direction, a few years down the line, with a few humans and cockroaches left, I'll be writing this article about a "post-apocalyptic Trumperica," to use the words of the late night tv host, Larry Wilmore.

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