Populism is a doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions, especially hopes and fears, of the general population.
Political parties and politicians often use the terms “populist” and “populism” as pejoratives against their opponents. What this means is that populism is merely empathising with the majority of the public, (usually through rhetoric or “unrealistic” proposals) in order to increase appeal across the political spectrum.
This pejorative aptly describes the political operations of one man- Donald Trump.
This abrasive, brash, and arrogant billionaire, reality T.V star, and real estate mogul is the front runner in the race for the Republican presidential ticket. He is the last of the outsiders (the other two being former Silicon Valley chief executive Carly Fiorina, and world renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson) standing in a field of professional politicians and Washington insiders. Interestingly, up until Super Tuesday and Super Saturday, with an extremely resurgent Ted Cruz, his rating in percentage terms was more than that of the remaining three…combined.
His astounding success on the campaign trail thus far can be attributed to the fact that he plays on the fears and hopes of the public and has become the personification of populism.
He was never a career politician but is sweeping in delegates with the ferocity of a hurricane.
This is largely because he is speaking what many Americans are thinking.
What they are thinking but are unable to say because of political correctness.
And it’s not just what he says but how he says it.
In stating his points and position he releases gaffes like they are going out of fashion.
Indiscretions about breast-feeding women, women in general, the disabled, minorities, and many other policy statements that range from banning Muslims from entering the U.S, through expelling all illegal immigrants, stopping birthright citizenship, to building a wall separating Mexico from the U.S, and of course getting the Mexicans to pay for it.
With every gaffe Donald Trump seems to have his street credibility and ratings with the American public soar, while those rivals that take him on directly have theirs diametrically opposed to his.
When Rick Perry took him on his ratings dropped and he subsequently dropped out of the race. When Lindsey Graham took him on his ratings dropped and he followed suit out of the race. Jeb Bush who was supposed to be the favorite to clinch the ticket was blown out of the race when he took on Donald Trump; the likes of Louisiana State Governor Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum froze off the radar just after they tried taking on Trump.
He seems to be unstoppable.
But just who is largely responsible for the rise of Donald Trump?
Trump initially came to public attention in 1973 when he was accused by the Justice Department of violations of the Fair Housing Act in the operation of 39 buildings, including false “no vacancy” statements, and sham leases presenting higher rents to minority applicants, all to facilitate the denial of housing to racial minorities.
Today, Donald Trump, probably as a result of his Democratic background, takes an economic and ideological position that leans to the left, but he mixes this position with a toxic brew of bigotry that is appealing to a section of the Republican party, and this second part is largely why several people in the mainstream conservative media did not call him out on time for who he is.
There were conservative radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and T.V stations like Fox that could have put a spanner in his works but only stopped short of putting the wind in his sails. When he took advantage of his protest over President Obama’s birth certificate to launch his political profile he did so with the tacit approval of several members of the GOP that are today ironically fighting the upsurge in Trumpism.
Many conservatives turned a blind eye to his verbal attacks on minorities because racial enmity is a big driver of U.S politics and the conservatives were comfortable with Trump playing this card, but now he has taken it to another level.
So what can the world expect from a Donald Trump presidency, and can such an unstable personality be trusted with the topmost executive job on the planet?
This is not just a question of the choice of Americans. The choice of U.S president is bound to have an effect on billions of people around the world.
The second largest economy in the world is the Chinese economy, second behind the U.S. The Chinese economy experienced a mind-boggling GDP accumulated growth of almost 350% between 1990 and 2006, yet the American economy is still at least three times the size of the Chinese.
This is not an economy you would want to be run by such an unpredictable and divisive character.
The U.S has 4,500 nuclear warheads, and the U.S President carries around a briefcase called “the Football”. This briefcase has launch-codes that can deploy the armed warheads.
I can’t imagine that too many people around the world would be comfortable knowing that that briefcase was under the custody of a President Trump.
Much has been made of how much of a Midas Touch Donald Trump has. Let me rephrase that- Donald Trump has made much of how much of the Midas Touch he has. He has held the world spellbound with fantastic tales of how much astuteness and business acumen he has, and how he turned a one million dollar loan from his dad into his present vast fortune.
Former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is among those who have questioned Trump’s purported wealth and his unwillingness to release his tax returns, suggesting Trump might be wary of revealing a potential electoral “bombshell” such as a failure to pay expected tax rates, dishonesty about charitable donations, or that “he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is.
In 2005, The New York Times referred to Trump’s “verbal billions” in a skeptical and highly critical article about Trump’s self-reported wealth. At the time, three individuals with direct knowledge of Trump’s finances told reporter Timothy L. O’Brien that Trump’s actual net worth was between $150 and $250 million, though Trump then publicly claimed a net worth of $5 to $6 billion. Claiming libel, Trump sued the reporter (and his book publisher) for $5 billion, lost the case, and then lost again on appeal; Trump refused to turn over his unredacted tax returns despite his assertion they supported his case. In a sworn deposition, Trump testified that he once borrowed $9.6 million from his father, calling it “a very small amount of money,” but could not recall when he did so; Trump has since told campaign audiences he began his career with “a small loan of one million dollars” from his father.
Estimates of Trump’s net worth have fluctuated along with real estate valuations: in 2015, Forbes pegged it as $4 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (which scrutinized Trump’s FEC filings) estimated a net worth of $2.9 billion. On June 16, 2015, just prior to announcing his candidacy for president of the United States, Trump released to the media a one-page prepared financial disclosure statement “from a big accounting firm—one of the most respected” stating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. “I’m really rich,” Trump said.
Forbes called the nearly $9 billion figure a “100%” exaggeration.
However, while it is indubitable that he has street sense and has made headway producing a great deal of lemonade with the lemons he started with in life his capriciousness becomes evident when we see how disingenuous he has been with the amount of lemons life handed out to him.
Donald Trump is said to have inherited at least $200 million from his dad, and the fact that he has had a litany of failures in business which include his foray into the airline business, his failed casino business, and several bankruptcies puts a slight dent in his self-appraisal form.
An analysis of Trump’s business career by The Economist in 2016, concludes that his “…performance has been mediocre compared with the stockmarket and property in New York.”
But the controversies in his statements about his investments do not hold a candle to the amount of controversies he strings up in other areas.
One that has been noteworthy of recent has been the type of people that have endorsed him.
David Duke is an American white nationalist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, far-right politician, and former Grand Wizard of the most racist group in U.S history, the Ku Klux Klan.
An avowed racist and white supremacist, Duke is a former felon and criminal who has been convicted of fraud and traced to many brutal racial hate crimes.
This was the man that gave a stirring endorsement of Donald Trump.
David Duke, a white nationalist and former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard, told his audience Wednesday that voting for anyone besides Donald Trump “is really treason to your heritage…I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”
In December, Duke told POLITICO that Trump’s candidacy allows Americans to be more open about their racial animus.
“He’s made it okay to talk about these incredible concerns of European Americans today, because I think European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view,” Duke said. “He’s meant a lot for the human rights of European Americans.”
Trump has since denounced him, but his initial unwillingness to do so has stirred the hornets’ nest, with the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, the Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other high profile Republicans trying to disassociate themselves from Trump.
And it’s not just them.
There’s a good amount of people who share the same sentiments.
The situation is so dire that there is a massive number of people who have indicated their interest to migrate if Trump wins the election. A remote town in Nova Scotia, Canada, has had a humongous amount of enquiries on its website by Americans who are anxious to relocate if Donald Trump wins the presidential race to become the Commander-In-Chief of the United States
There are a lot of Republicans who are very uncomfortable with the potential of a Trump nomination, and for good reason too. Being from New York, and having been a Democrat who has allegedly written ten different checks to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the course of her political career, and spent loads of money on a Bill Clinton campaign for the White House, his loyalty to the Republican party is at best checkered and at worst non-existent.
Add to this his numerous unguarded statements and penchant for verbal diarrhea it is perfectly understandable why this man cannot ever be the poster child for the Republican party.
Mitt Romney, a former governor and presidential candidate of the Republican party, recently released a scathing attack on Trump calling him a phony and a fraud. A high point of that speech was when he said Trump’s statements were about as worthless as “a certificate from Trump University”, an “institution” credited as a fraud and which serves as the reason for several legal suits.
Interestingly, several other mainstream Republicans, notably former presidential candidate John McCain, have openly backed Mitt Romney’s position.
Romney exhorted Republicans to think long and hard about who they would want to represent them in their race for the White House. He stopped short of endorsing one other candidate and encouraged delegates to vote different candidates at each of the caucuses, implicitly suggesting the game plan to stop Trump is a contested convention.
WHAT IS A CONTESTED CONVENTION?
The primaries and caucuses are now on. These are designed for delegates from both the Democratic and the Republican parties to pick the flag-bearers (presumptive nominees) of their respective parties. A Republican candidate needs to win 1,237 of the 2,472 total delegates in order to become the presumptive nominee.
Most conventions are a bit of a rubber stamp because the presumptive nominee would already have been decided. In most election years, one presidential candidate wins enough delegates during the primary-caucuses process in order for the presumptive nominee to earn a majority of the delegates before the convention begins.
In a contested convention, however, no presumptive nominee exists because no candidate garners a majority of the delegates on the first ballot. A contested convention means the meetings actually make a pivotal difference for who the nominee will be. This is because all delegates will cast votes at the convention until a candidate is decided.
This is what Mitt Romney and most conservatives are hoping for.
His game plan as evidenced by his speech would be for Republicans in Florida to support their senator Marco Rubio when their caucus takes place on March 15th, Republicans in Ohio to support John Kasich, who incidentally is their governor, during their caucus, and Republicans in other states to support Ted Cruz who is the senator representing the state of Texas. This ought to end in a Contested Convention if it goes according to plan. And this would increase the chances of Trump being knocked off on the floor of the Republican convention.
He might have the sympathy of the grassroots (many of those derisively referred to as “trailer trash” would love him), but for much of the educated, elite and upwardly mobile he is a non-starter.
So, we have Donald Trump, one of the most polarizing and confusing figures in recent times. For many people around the world he must be stopped. The GOP Establishment sees a potential Trump candidacy as a rollover to the advantage of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
They can’t afford to let this happen.
Would their plan work? Would it be enough to stop this potential natural disaster- Hurricane Trump?