The Trump question
In a movie I recently watched, an artist was told that his paintings were ugly. His reply was surprising: “I know that. But I do this on purpose. I want these ugly pictures to spread like a virus and destroy art from the inside.”
I remember that painter every time I watch Donald Trump, the potential candidate for the U.S. presidency. He seems like he is after the same objective, i.e., making his offenses and faux pas spread like a virus and destroy the system!
Moreover, the American people look like supporting this spread since they are swiftly carrying Trump to the presidency.
Last Tuesday was “Super Tuesday” which is the most determinant day in the presidential race. It is the day when the greatest number of states hold primary elections. According to the results of the 11 states in question, the course of events have become more or less clear. It is 92 percent sure that Hillary Clinton will become the candidate of the Democrats while Trump’s chances of becoming the Republican candidate are higher than 75 percent.
The next critical date ahead of the Nov. 8 elections is March 15. On that day, the primary elections will be held in five states which will allocate their delegates on a winner-take-all basis. In other words, if Trump wins, his candidacy will become certain, which seems like a serious possibility at the moment.
Yet the candidates need to be finally approved in respective conventions held by both the Democrats and Republicans in mid-July. At the moment, it is possible that the Republican convention might sabotage Trump by denying him the 1,237 delegates needed for his nomination. The reason is that a significant number of Republicans are not comfortable with Trump representing them.
Yet taking into account the course to date and the expected results from March 15, Americans will probably make a choice between Clinton and Trump. Moreover, according to the most recent poll by CNN, there is a 52 percent chance that Clinton will defeat Trump.
But why have Americans made Trump such a strong presidential candidate?
The main reason behind is the thesis of “the collapse of the center.” In the West, politicians occupying the center have not been able to provide a cure for the challenges of the masses. The refugee crisis, the integration of the “other,” terrorism and financial problems are just a few of the issues.
Voters who can’t find the answer within the existing system have been driven to the extremes since the radicals have addressed their needs.
Britain’s former foreign secretary, David Miliband of the Labour Party, explains this via globalization. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the world quickly globalized, suppressing local identities. This, in turn, has annoyed both the left wing and the right wing.
The right is unhappy since globalization erodes people’s identities. And the left is troubled that it exacerbates inequality. Yet both wings have not been able to find an answer. And it is the outsiders who have promised easy answers.
Washington Post senior columnist Fareed Zakaria relates the “Trump phenomenon” to romanticism. According to him, in politics there have always been people who are after romanticisim, i.e., revolution. Zakaria argues that the existing problems have galvanized the romantics who believe the answer is a revolution.
In addition, voters want to try something brand new since they have not reaped any benefits from the current system. Hence they trail behind a real estate magnate who has no political experience at all and who has entered the presidential campaign out of the blue. Moreover, they are sick of family names such as Clinton and Bush who are politically worn.
Another factor is fear. Since Sept. 11 Americans have been afraid of terrorism, Islam and Muslims. The ISIL reality has only triggered this fear. And the refugee crisis has been the last straw.
A candidate who plays to these fears gives them comfort, just like self-therapy. At the same time, they want a leader who is strong enough to overcome their fears. And Trump’s welfare and vocalness provides them with this basic feeling.
Last but not least, President Obama’s passive policies have led to a backlash. American people are striving for action. They think that Trump as a businessman and go-getter can “go and get” in politics too and showcase U.S. leadership to the world once again.
But caution! Trump’s irrepressible rise interlocks the Democrats as much as it divides the Republicans. In other words, it plays into Clinton’s hands. So stay tuned.