What makes Trump important?
The Indian political scene once had Kaka Joginder Singh, alias Dharti Pakad. During a long life span, he contested over 300 elections and lost all of...
Trump has spoken against women in general. He made a swipe at Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party aspirant. Trump will not abolish the Gun Law that Obama wants to abolish since it is being misused and causes violence.
In sum, Trump is seen as a boorish man, very illiberal and very dogmatic – all that a democracy anywhere would like to shun. But his regressive approach on important issues compels serious notice, taking him this far in the world’s ‘greatest’, ‘wealthiest’ and ‘powerful’ democracy.
The reason why he is popular among the American voters to be taken seriously and feared by his rivals and other aspirants are very many. Besides the money he spends, it is the media build-up – the more controversial things he says. Trump knows the TRPs matter and so he lets lose his tongue. But do not be misled by his behaviour -- he is serious
The Indian political scene once had Kaka Joginder Singh, alias Dharti Pakad. During a long life span, he contested over 300 elections and lost all of them. Standing against the likes of Atal Bihar Vajpayee and L K Advani, he termed the deposit money he lost as “a humble contribution to the nation”. He was a perfect example of a non-serious candidate, making the courts and the Election Commission take a dim view of his persistence.
Such candidates are not rare. In this season of Presidential elections in the United States, the process of which has begun, there are several. They are peripheral, or opposed to the Establishment and use an election to mark their presence. Vermin Supreme guarantees a pony for every American. He calls himself a ‘satirist’, ‘anarchist’ and ‘performance artiste’.
Also a ‘friendly fascist’, he sought to contest the 2012 elections as a Democratic Party candidate and is trying it again. Rapper Kanye West, married to Kim Kardashian, has got the Americans excited at the prospects of glamorous celebrity being in the White House – not him. Brady Olson alias Deez Nuts is only 15 and not eligible. But he has declared his presidential ambitions, not just for this year but also for the 2020 elections.
Joan Jett Blakk, who opposed George Bush Senior in 1992, continues to be in all elections ever since. There is comedian Pat Paulsen contesting for the fifth time, and then, guitarist Joe Walsh. Although they may all be popular with their fans, American presidency is a different proposition. But who will tell them? They make run-up to any American election colourful but interesting and irritating.
Of the two main American parties, the Republicans seem to have a larger share of ‘nut cases’. Years ago, it had Barry Goldwater. Recently, it fielded former Alaksa Governor Sarah Palin as the vice presidential running mate. Her presence and campaign made the Democratic Party’s election supremely easy. Palin, who has written books and rates high on TV in terms of TRPs continues to haunt the party that is desperate to end its political drought during eight years of Obama.
However, all these candidates seem saintly and serious against Donald Trump who lost his debut in Iowa, the first state that held the election, to Ted Cruze. But there is no indication that Trump will give up his effort. He may eventually fade out, but till then, his money-powered campaign will keep the world amused and the Republicans worried.
What makes a vulgar and provocative Trump so important? What makes him so famous across the world, many months before America prepared for the elections? First is his money. The super-rich man’s property and land business may or may not be straight. But in elections, money matters. Reports have it that Trump’s grandfather ran a brothel on migration from Germany and returned to his native land when he feared being caught.
Trump’s father was a White supremacist and allegedly a Ku Kux Klan activist. He fought the law while making money and left a huge inheritance for Donald. Infamy and being called bad names, to calling others names seem natural to Trump.
Trump has made statements against Blacks and immigrants that make him out to be a racist. He is anti-Muslim and says he will ‘cleanse’ America of Muslims and prevent Muslim migrants. He has said vile things against the refugees who are fleeing Syria and Iraq. He will not allow a single refugee if he gets elected. At a rally, he claimed to have “20 Muslim friends”, but failed to name even one.
Trump has spoken against women in general. He made a swipe at Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party aspirant. When she left briefly at a rally, Trump regaled his audience saying the “poor thing” needed to go to the toilet. Trump will not abolish the Gun Law that Obama wants to abolish since it is being misused and causes violence. In sum, Trump is seen as a boorish man, very illiberal and very dogmatic – all that a democracy anywhere would like to shun.
But his regressive approach on important issues compels serious notice, taking him this far in the world’s ‘greatest’, ‘wealthiest’ and ‘powerful’ democracy. The reason why he is popular among the American voters to be taken seriously and feared by his rivals and other aspirants are very many.
Besides the money he spends, it is the media build-up – the more controversial things he says, more the media reports him for the TRPs. He recently abused a woman reporter. But media still laps up what he says. Trump knows the TRPs matter and so he lets lose his tongue. But do not be misled by his behaviour -- he is serious.
Trump exploits the Islamphobia that has gripped America since 9/11. He plays on the fears of the common man about Muslims. With all their prosperity and education, many Americans nurse contempt for outsiders they consider lesser beings. They resent efforts of Obama who invites Muslims to his breakfast or visits a mosque. The rise of ISIS causes fears and Trump feeds these fears in his campaign.
The American economy has done well under Obama. Used to riches, the Americans are fearful that the present phase may not last long. Hence, they want a conservative president after eight years of a liberal Obama, who ended the hostility with Cubans after sixty years and signed a deal with the Iranians after 35 years. These are periods long enough to shape mindset of the general populace.
The 2016 election is shaping up to be the year of angry voters as disgruntled Americans worry about issues such as immigration, terrorism, income inequality and healthcare, fueling the campaigns of Trump and self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. Some 73 percent voters, likely to head to the polls in November, say they think the country is on the wrong track, according to a Reuters/ Ipsos poll last month.
The Americans are keen to be considered a superpower. Under Obama, their power as a nation is seen as declining. Obama withdrew forces from Afghanistan and up to a point from Iraq. But both places are in total mess. With the emergence of ISIS, with Obama returning to West Asia, but not sending troops, is perplexing the Americans.
Trump feeds on this unease and works to alarm the American public. It is hardly surprising that Russia’s Vladimir Putin mocked at America, sounding almost serious, by praising and supporting Trump. America is going through a conservative phase. The narrow winner in Iowa, pushing Trump to the third place, Ted Cruz is a conservative.
The Republicans are in a flip-flop with Jeb Bush, from the family of two former presidents still to make his mark. His ideal running mate could be Nikki Haley, the former Nimrata Randhawa, Indian-American daughter of Sikh immigrants who is the Governor of South Carolina, just 44, married to a Methodist Christian. She prays at both the church and the gurdwara. America needs that kind of inclusiveness, not Trump.
Among the Democrats, front-runner Hillary is handicapped by scandals and husband Bill, the former president, being by her side during the campaign is not helping much, so far. She won Iowa by the whisker, with Bernie Sanders coming uncomfortably close.
Hillary knows India and Indians. The attempts by Trump to suddenly make “India is doing great, but nobody is talking about it”, may not impress the Indian-Americans much. It is too early in the day for a clear picture. But India and the world pray that Trump does not make it.