I have always found American politics fascinating. It’s like theatre on a giant stage. This time around though the world has watched in wonder as the American election has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Perhaps the best way to describe it is like a Shakespearean tragic comedy. It can be classed as neither because it has huge elements of both. In the beginning I think we all viewed Donald Trump as an amusing caricature with bad hair who would be entertaining to watch for a while. After all the election process goes on for so long why not get some amusement out of it. No one really believed that he would still be in the race at this point, let alone be in with a real chance of winning the Republican nomination but alas it really is happening.
As the weeks rolled on the jokes got less funny and the threats got more real. In the course of his candidacy Trump has managed to offend Women, Mexicans, People with disabilities and Muslims to name a few. Everyday the list seems to get longer. His rallies have become a breeding ground for violent and racist behavior. This has of course brought him more attention in the media and has in turn made him very popular. It also helps that the other Republican nominees aren’t very credible. There is no doubt that it’s a fascinating circus and people seem to be enjoying the show but at what point do we all have to get serious about the business of electing a real president?
Perhaps the reason for Trump’s popularity is the fact that he doesn’t seem to play by the same rules as the other candidates. In a world where everyone is getting more and more anti-establishment perhaps Trump is an attractive prospect. His campaign is like no other we have seen before. His team appear to have very little political experience between them. The campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski ran and lost Bob Smith’s Senate campaign in 2002, bringing to an end his short time within the GOP establishment. When asked about Lewandowski those closest to the Trump campaign say that what he lacks in credentials he makes up for in ambition and ruthlessness. Katrina Pierson, Trumps spokeswoman used to support Obama but she is now a tea party activist. Other members of the team have never even been involved in politics before now. Although most of them have worked with Trump on his various business ventures over the years.
Trump has a core team of about a dozen members. According to the Federal Election Commission he has a total of 94 people on his payroll nationwide, as opposed to Hillary Clinton who has a staggering 765 members on her team. It might not surprise anyone to hear that Trump employs no media coaches or speech writers. He writes all his own speeches (and Tweets) by himself. Other than the slogan “Make America Great Again” which he borrowed from Ronald Reagan, he has spent very little money on advertising. The whole thing seems to operate like a business rather than a political campaign. He says and does whatever is necessary to win. He is certainly not concerned with diplomacy or political correctness. Many believe that is the key to Trump’s success. Nowadays everyone is encouraged to mind their P’s and Q’s but Donald Trump ignores these rules and many find it to be a breath of fresh air. They say he speaks his mind but his mind, does seem to change quite a bit. So much so that he appears to be making it up as he goes along. It is estimated that on certain issues such as foreign policy the Trump campaign has changed their stance not once, not twice but more than half a dozen times over the course of the campaign. The only thing he is clear on it seems is that he wants to build a wall to keep foreigners out of the U.S. Strangely enough Trump says this makes him a unifier but how that works is again unclear.
Violent scenes have become more and more frequent at Trump rallies. He riles up the audience by promising them he is going to build a wall to keep out Mexicans and he is going to ban Muslims. He even offered to pay the legal fees for one voter who punched a black man in the face. He never talks about policy much less how he is going to, as he puts it make America great again but they don’t seem to mind. His aggressive approach keeps them coming back time and time again. His speeches read like slogans on a bumper sticker and the crowd loves it. He has unearthed a racism that lurked in the dark corners of American culture. Figures show that Trump appeals to a very poor, uneducated and mostly male demographic. They see him as a “self-made” billionaire and they admire him for it but in truth Trump isn’t self made at all. He grew up very wealthy and his father even gave him what he calls “a small business loan” of one million dollars when he was starting out. He has also declared bankruptcy a number of times over the years. In fact it is unclear just how much Donald Trump is actually worth because he keeps changing his mind on that also. It seems he is a far cry from the “every man” that his fans believe him to be.
It is fair to say however that not everyone loves Donald Trump. Like I said he has managed to offend a lot of the electorate since his unconventional journey to the White House began. He has defiantly lost the Latino vote due to his offensive comments calling them rapists and murderers and then there was his recent remarks on abortion have done him no favors either. The Republican party are in full panic mode and they claim that they will not accept Trump as their parties nominee. Experts say that even if Trump does win the nomination he cannot win the election without the support of Latinos, Women and the Republican party. Of course Trump is fighting this notion by rounding up his legion of fans and encouraging them to revolt if he doesn’t win. This suggests there will be more violence in the weeks to come.
Many famous people have come out against the Donald trying to convince voters that he is not the right choice for president. Founder of the popular blog Humans of New York Brandon Stanton, who usually avoids turning the spotlight on himself was one of those people. He went so far as to post an open letter to Donald Trump online listing his crimes against humanity and calling him hateful. In just eight hours it became the most shared post in the history of Facebook so apparently there are those who agree with this sentiment.
I find it interesting that two of the most popular candidates are Donald Trump, who is now on the far right and Bernie Sanders who couldn’t be more left if he wore a t-shirt with a giant cannabis leaf on it. They are as different as the two political symbols of the donkey and the elephant and yet they are equally popular with voters. The political landscape in my own country isn’t all that awe inspiring at the moment either I assure you but I do wonder how Americans have ended up on such opposite sides and who will be able to bridge the enormous gap. Whatever the result it’s clear that this election will not only be historic it will be truly memorable. Lets hope its for the right reasons.