Donald Trump is, as a bullyish toddler of a man, a hugely amusing individual. Except, perhaps, to those in the US whose lives may be a little more impacted by his caricature lunacy.
We have to look more deeply at the root of the problem: the Republican Party itself
He is, at heart, a TV personality, guffawing and grimacing his way onto the news until he becomes an ever-present part of the political atmosphere. But if we stop and think for a moment, it is startling to conceive that a man who is openly racist, is caught bragging about abusing women, and wants to throw his running rival in jail is in contention for the US presidency. The fact that he survived the release of the genital-grabbing comments is testament to the fact that nobody expects any better of him.
Yes, he’s not the first American Right Wing loony, and he probably won’t be the last, but how can it be that such an individual actually holds the presidential candidacy for one of America’s largest political parties?
Lots of people, over lots of conversations, have their own answer for this. Bruce Springsteen, for example, this week said that he thinks it’s to do with The Donald pretending to ‘left-behind people’ that he is listening to them when others aren’t. I think that is a short term and inaccurate view. In order to understand the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, in my opinion, we have to look more deeply at the root of the problem: The Republican Party itself.
The Republican Party traditionally stands on the Conservative Right of American politics, espousing policies such as free markets, deregulation and traditional Christian values, against the Democrats, who believe in liberalist policies of mixed economies, civil liberties, and social justice. These divisions, and the arguments on both sides, are important ones, and it is the political wrestling of nations between a range of approaches that results in countries taking steps forward, using a diverse collection of ideas and methods.
This election is the inevitable outcome of years of what I would term ‘Republican Low-Road-ism’
This election, however, is not about these issues. This election is the inevitable outcome of years of what I would term ‘Republican Low-Road-ism’. That is to say, the Republicans abandoning reason for madness, slinging mud desperately at the Democrats, and appealing to the insecurities and unfounded beliefs of the American people in a shameless attempt at scooping as many votes as possible. This policy, and the post-truth America it has created, has paved the way for a Donald-like character to march into the Oval Office.
The Republican Low-Road-ism has seen some strange policies adopted, such as the public denial of climate change and global warming, and the frank and angry rejection of evolutionary theory in favour of creationism. With due respect to all beliefs, it seems odd that a modern, Western country, that houses such great intellectual institutions as Harvard, MIT and Yale, should have politicians claiming that climate change is a “hoax”, and, on the theory of evolution, stating “I don’t accept it”.
The Republicans have gone with this for so long because, thanks to underlying beliefs and heavy propaganda, Americans have been coaxed into rejecting rationalist observation, and give their votes to people who defend their right to stupidity. But even the Washington Republicans have their limits: they are bound, at least to some degree, by political correctness, and to play to American weaknesses such as racism and fanatic xenophobic patriotism is a step too far.
But not for Trump. He is happy to stick his silly face on the news and announce that Mexicans and Muslims should all leave the US, that the US should “screw” foreign people like he screws them, that Blacks have ruined Baltimore, and that women are just things for him and other men to play with. This, clearly, resonates with some Americans, and has rocketed his non-existent political career to where it is now. All he’s done is continue the Republican Low-Road approach, but take it further than his rivals were willing to. It is, essentially, the Republicans’ own fault that they are stuck with The Donald. The fundamental point is this: Trump is not a one-off nutcase, but is the bed that the Republicans have been making for the past few decades – and now they have to lie in it.
All he’s done is continue the Republican Low-Road approach, but take it further than his rivals were willing to
It must be said that there are most certainly other reasons why Trump has done so well: Clinton, although vastly more experienced, is easy to dislike, and her smug dismissal of Trump and his ‘deplorables’ won her few friends. Nonetheless, the pre-disposition of millions of Americans, particularly white men, to support Trump is indicative of the Republicans’ having deepened the furrows of systemic racism, violent xenophobia and denial of basic science that have cut through America’s potentially bright future. Whilst Hillary has her drawbacks, she is the obvious candidate of choice for all rational human beings and, as such, I hope it is not too presumptuous to proclaim: we’re with her.