“I know everyone won’t like everything I do, but I’m not running to be everyone’s favorite president... Things are seriously wrong in this country. People are hurting, business is hurting. I’m running to move quickly to make big changes.”
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
The Indiana republican primaries on May 3, 2016 for Donald Trump continues to provide the Republican GOP a problem which they didn’t anticipate. At least not to this degree. Trump is not an enigma; he is however a phenomenon. A product, a reflection of the type of society which rose from the Regan era of the 1980’s.
American politics, Americans themselves, tend to concentrate their attention to those who can win. Very few rules (legal or otherwise) can dislodge this primary value from the American ethos. With regard to Donald Trump, winning, supersedes all. Throughout the primaries there has been a level of incredulity, of disbelief that a presidential candidate like Trump; could heap such a disdain for the electoral process. That is …all its perfunctory ethics and codes of conduct.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” -Winston Churchill
The 20-minute exchange between Ted Cruz and Trump supporters in Indiana serves Winston's quote very well. It also exemplifies the raw emotional state of the population at large who now; question the essence of what it is to live and work within a dysfunctional democracy. It speaks to what former Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders refers to as the 1%-what is often described as "the establishment".
This exists not only in America's institutions, but also within its political and economic structures at every level of governance. Making promises during elections and forgoing those same promises on the basis of impracticability, national self-interests no longer resonate with its citizens. Americans are realizing that electing representatives at the congressional, and senatorial, levels achieves nothing. Congress has now been made impotent by their own accord or by submitting to the will of special interest groups or powerful conglomerate institutions.
No American can claim ignorance, or deny having not being made aware of the political changes within their own democratic institutions. This is an ongoing issue, but during this election Trump is the only candidate to have harnessed and labelled it.
“Making America great again”
CNN political pundits are bemused. Trump is a frustration, and a manifestation of the unknown in terms of political acumen. There is also an element of legitimacy. Is Trump a legitimate representative of the American voter? Until the primaries began, no one believed that this was in fact the case. Confined to the realm of the entertainment industry; a character such as Donald Trump would be impossible to pass as ‘presidential’ material. Trump’s legitimatization is based in part by his ability to achieve success. His pursuit of the ‘American dream.’
It is reflected in all facets of his life. His accumulated wealth, his stature, his good looking wife and ex-wives, his children, and existential circle of friends. Peeling back a Trump onion would reveal many layers of the man himself. Having a proper vetting process was not something the Republican GOP deemed important or necessary. After all, 17 other well-known and established Republican candidates shared the path towards the Republican nomination.
Both Republican and Democratic establishment are circling the wagons. They are bracing themselves against the anger of the American population itself. And they are unsettled. There are no precedents, no operational manual to be had. It doesn’t exist yet. Trump has the opportunity to lead those who have supported his nomination and his eventual run towards the presidency-- as a civil war battle cry. A civil war against the status quo. Americans, at least those who identify with Trump and Bernie Sanders, are a whisper away from employing more physical means to regain control of the country.
And as with any political entity, the process by which Trump has successfully distanced his detractors and withheld their ability to mobilize their opposition during his rallies is concerning. A recent BBC documentary explaining the current American climate made corresponding allusions to pre-war Germany when comparatives were used to describe Trump. These arguments have merit.
Under the leadership of Bernie Sanders, the American electorate would have the capability to elevate a social-democrat. While this doesn’t sit well with true republican ideology, it would offer a viable alternative for Americans of either party and independents to elect a president who has the necessary will to do what must be done. Return the democratic process, ‘…to the people, by the people and for the people’.
Trump does not offer this option. “Making America great again” hinges on his skill set to develop policies that will not be in accordance with democratic principles per say. Rather, Trump policy making--would incorporate what is necessary to re-position Americans as the western super power. Not only from a military, but also from an economic perspective. Trump has more than once railed against NAFTA, TTP, and other international trade agreements which puts American interests at a disadvantage. Along with his immigration proposals, Americans who identity with his policies and deem them necessary will support new legislation introduced by Trump in order to follow through with his agenda—be damned domestic or international consequences.
Social democrats and independents may cringe at Trump’s means towards the end; but they are not willing to ignore the real possibility of losing gainful employment either. Clinton’s assertions earlier in March of 2016 during a primary debate--that coal mines in Indiana would be effectively shut down under her presidential mandate—cost her the Indiana primary nomination. Sander’s will not carry the democratic nomination, but he can influence the tone and mandate of the Democratic Party election platform. In essence tie Clinton’s hands and force her to win an election based upon a platform that will inflame American anger—not diffuse it.
Is Trump too big a risk?
A scorched earth political battle is already promised by journalist, radio and television analysts in the United States. The Clinton campaign already labelled Trump as being too big a risk. Campaigning against a republican platform is one thing. Campaigning against the will of the electorate is another. Examining past failures made by republican nominees will not serve Clinton well. Save in one aspect. And that is to understand what voters want. Not hope to get, not what they hope to settle for…but what they expect. Ignoring this fact will negate all other strategies.
That is a difficult proposition for any 2016 democratic presidential ticket. Clinton cannot distance herself from Obama’s tenure. Neither can she dissociate herself from her voting record on critical bills passed by Congress. In addition, Sander’s decision to challenge Clinton for the remaining 6 weeks of the democratic nomination primaries will force Clinton between a rock and an impossible place. Disaffected republicans and democrats often describe Trump as a person to be fearful of. Is it because they don’t understand him? Quite possibly. Unlike career politicians Trump is not interested in appealing to everyone.
New York Times journalist Patrick Healy quoted Trump a day after the Indiana primary saying,
Trump is not politically correct. He makes mistakes. He is not above quoting the National Inquirer (or anything else for that matter) if it helps him win. Trump makes no pretense about possessing the necessary knowledge to develop policy. Frankly, he doesn’t care. He can delegate that to someone who does. As long as it follows his requisites. He will change his position, if he sees the logic in it.
As human beings we love familiarity, we understand what is learned. Unfortunately, the capacity to face what is unknown with composure is equally important. There is nothing to fear, but fear itself. Portraying Trump and his policies as “too big a risk” might work for the Clinton campaign. After all, he doesn’t have any real answers yet. At least none that have been shared with the public. He swears a lot, he has machismo. His facts (or what passes for facts) are often versions of the truth…but no matter if it helps him win.
He believes in “might is right”. Perhaps not in the same sense in Abraham Lincoln’s 1860’s Cooper Union speech in New York were this famous quote derives from; but Trump has no problem using the military as his foreign policy cornerstone. And no American would argue against that. His immigration policy, brings international ridicule. “Good luck with that,” said President Obama.
The thing is, it’s not Trump’s idea. The Secure Fence Act goes back to 2006. Hardly something new. For the neighboring towns along the Rio Grande, illegal immigration is not something to be taken lightly. Clinton might wish to tare town walls and build bridges, but as the US-Mexico border is concerned, the American litmus test is way out of whack with those of the establishment that Clinton was a part of for all her adult life.
Trump is not afraid to voice what many Americans feel needs to be done. This is not political theory 101. Violence will occur. It’s impossible to avoid it. The blame game will continue. One thing for sure, the 2016 election is just the beginning, not the end. If the American population does not see a government that works for them, in the very near future—they will destroy it. Maybe it will look like the movie Vendetta. Maybe not. Time will tell.