By Atharva Pandit:
A Republican candidate with his eyes set for the 2016 Presidential elections, Donald Trump belongs to that category of politicians who are politicians thanks to their earlier fame. Before he was a politician, he was a millionaire, and before he was a millionaire, he was a successful businessman- by the virtue of his father, Fred Trump, already a successful real estate developer in New York.
Trump junior’s career started with business, but he has had his eyes set on politics for long. Born in 1946 in New York, Trump went to the New York Military Academy, where he would proudly lead marches, earn medals and be influenced by intense nationalism- perhaps the root of his ‘Make America Great Again!’ campaign, that shouts out on his website with him displaying a victory sign and a sheepish smile in the background.
Trump went on to graduate with a degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania in 1968, and then joined his father’s already established company, Elizabeth Trump and Son. By and large, with Trump junior obtaining the control of the company in 1971, the Trump empire began to expand. Whatever you might say of him, Donald Trump was and is a shrewd businessman, and he has his reach within the influential elite of the New York City socialites.
But for a politician, you need not just have a reach within the elite, but also have a keen eye on the streets- and Trump has none of that. His excessive nationalistic and pro-capitalist ventures have put him off for the increasing number of poor and jobless in America, out on the streets and lanes. Trump advertises what is the cliched image of an American city– the glitter, all the while ignoring the reality, which is probably why he hates those who form that very reality- migrants, minorities et al. And his politics is formed by a heady mixture of sensationalist comments, stupid remarks and politically incorrect, hypocrisy-laden statements. But it isn’t the first time he is forwarding that sort of a politics- he tried to back in 2000, as well, but failed, and returned, for the time being, to business. But this time he is back, and with a fair bit of support.
Which is dangerous is that Trump’s ideas and policies are viciously right-wing, which means that they necessarily trouble the idea of a harmonious state. Trump effectively displays it every time he flexes the muscles on his mouth- the latest being his statement that America should ban Muslims, apart also from a ban on the internet and his remarks that he would stand as an independent candidate if the Republicans are not happy with what he says- a not-so-inviting proposal for the Republicans, considering the significance that Trump holds within the Republican voters, 35 percent of which support Trump. But that’s the essential question everybody seem to be asking- why?
The Trump Policies:
An answer to that question might be in the policies that Trump would like to pursue if he becomes the President. And those policies include building walls between his neighbours and himself, apart from also wanting to “rebuild infrastructure,” which essentially means the development romp almost every politician worth his or her salt keeps mouthing. But this is Trump, and he doesn’t think too many thoughts before declaring that Mexicans are drug-addicts and criminals, doubling up as rapists. His solution? Build a wall. No, not the bilateral wall where trade is stopped and diplomatic ties are snapped- a literal wall built of bricks and cement. And nobody builds walls better than Trump, he said so himself. Also, he wants Mexico to pay for that wall, so we know where that is headed.
Trump is obviously not very sympathetic towards immigrants, and his immigration policy, apart from announcing that wall across the southern border, also confidently states that a “nation without a law is not a nation” and “a nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation” either. He reserves a lot of venom for the Mexicans, accusing the Mexican government of taking US “to the cleaners,” conveniently forgetting how the US government has been corrupting and manipulating the Mexican government and its people for the past many years in the lieu of its anti-Hispanic sentiments.
In a masked arrangement to forward the concerns of the working class, Trump, in his manifesto, draws a parallel between the migrant issue and the jobs of the middle class, while also pushing for a complete free market trade, which is contradictory of course, but one doesn’t expect Trump to understand that.
Continuing with the immigration debate, Trump now sets his eyes on terror. He thinks he is the best bet when it comes to tackling terror, especially terror of the ISIS kind. “Nobody would be tougher on ISIL than Donald Trump,” he declared, adding another “nobody” shortly for better effect. The plan, meanwhile, when it is implemented, would be “decisive and quick” while also being “beautiful and surgical.” So then, what’s the plan? Trump wasn’t ready to disclose it in June for fear of it being stolen. But he did let us have a sneak-peak when, in the wake of San Bernardino shooting- which killed 14 and injured 22 and was carried out by a Muslim couple- Trump demanded that all Muslims traveling to the US should be banned “until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on.” And this “figuring out” for Trump involves making databases for Muslim families and surveillance of mosques.
The more you delve into Donald Trump’s policies, the more you are sucked into the banter he has established all across the internet. The remarks, comments, debates, polls… they have all been avidly covered by an enthusiastic American press, that realizes that what it has on its hand is a man who would provide them with headlines no matter what. But that’s the Trump strategy, and he has been using it well.
Donald Trump and the American media:
Four years ago, in 2011, at the White House Correspondent’s dinner, President Barack Obama proceeded to humiliate, right in front of scribes, writers and important figures in the media industry the erratic billionaire that Donald Trump was then. Trump sat drooped, according to Adam Gopnik, who attended that dinner, and he sat almost on the verge of a publicly expressed fury but controlling himself without his usual negative sarcasm to help him.
Perhaps Trump’s journey to his candidature started on that very night, when he decided that to get back at Obama and to cleanse his image it was important for him to push himself above his weight. And so he did, although it is contested whether or not he managed to cleanse his image – maybe he never wanted to either, and at this point of time, it matters not. What matters now is the fact that Donald Trump doesn’t need anybody else to humiliate him anymore- his own remarks to the world ensure for that. The sad thing, however, is that Trump wants just that.
The fact is that, the mainstream media today wants headlines, which isn’t all too bad, except that most media outlets today also want those headlines to be eye-popping scandalous rather than meaningful comments of who said what. Just as much, Trump must have thought, because he gives them what they want- controversies, which are then put into words, sentences and paragraphs, and which then garner more readership, more views, more TRPs; Trump gets national attention, media gets readers and viewers, readers and viewers get Trump, the vicious cycle ends in an eventual profit. Donald Trump, as I said, is a shrewd businessman, and he brings this business attitude to his politics- he knows where to hit it hard to garner more presence than anybody else.
The result? Trump has been consistently topping the polls which asked voters who dominates their minds when it comes to voting for a Republican candidate. Media coverage ensures that Trump remains in people’s minds, which is reflected effectively when it comes to polls- because Trump dominates the voters’ thinking, they vote for him, because he is the one popping up in their minds first.
This media-sensibility, however, does not ensure a win. As Nate Silver points out in his study of the media pattern evolving around Trump, the upcoming debates might push Trump out of the coverage, not altogether, but enough to hurt his chances. And Republican voters have been considering other candidates, as well, and they have a lot to choose from- 14 candidates vying for your attention, now that’s a big deal. Of them all, Trump might dominate, but he has already reached the height of his media presence, so his fortunes may either nosedive, or remain where they are (and I am hoping for the former).
No. Imagine The Dictator, that 2012 attempt at making a film. Now remove all the Third World racism and turn it on its head- Trump visiting some Middle Eastern country and behaving like Aladeen. That’s your President Trump. The Aladeen of the West, a title he wouldn’t really fancy, courtesy of his own distinct policies for the Middle East, which include but are not limited to dropping bombs and turning another country into another Iraq.
When the citizens of USA elected Barrack Obama to be their President, they delivered a landmark judgment that broke across all religious, cultural and racial boundaries- quite simply, if they decide to elect Trump as their Presidential hope, it would all be undone and a newer, different kind of West could be seen emerging. Because when you remove the ridicule and the bad humor from Trump’s statements, you realize that they are racial and dangerous, and Trump means every bit of what he says. When you begin to share his image of America as the global power, “the great” America he is trumpeting all about, you realize how perilous that could turn out for the rest of the world, especially the vulnerable parts of Middle East, where people are being killed in hundreds and thousands every day.
Donald Trump cannot be the President of USA. Simply, that would be catastrophic.