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Dhaka Tribune

Slaying the Trump card

Update : 05 Sep 2015, 07:17 AM

The Republicans are now seriously worried. They had hoped that the Donald Trump tsunami would blow over without causing the party serious damage. Donald Trump’s performance in the TV debate of the 10 top runners out of the 16 in the race for the Republican ticket, that was held on August 6, was bizarre.

Most of those who watched the debate had little doubt that not only had he out-debated himself from contention for the Republican ticket, but had also caused the party serious damage by the views he had expressed leading to the debate during the debate, and immediately afterwards, on national and international issues that are expected to grab the attention of the voters in the next presidential election.

In the US, women voters out-number male voters, however slightly. Latino voters are now in enough strength to act as swing voters to determine the eventual winners with nearly 9% of the votes. Donald Trump’s views on women and Latinos are unbelievable, coming from someone who would like to be the president, and a party that is going by established sequence should send its candidate to the White House. Since President Eisenhower, no party has succeeded in sending its candidate to the White House after a two-term president in the White House.

In the August 6 debate, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly reminded Donald Trump that he had, at various times, called women “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs,” and “disgusting animals.” Instead of denying the allegations, Donald Trump had replied that he did not have time for “total political correctness.” He later called the Fox anchor a “bimbo.” He called Mexican immigrants “rapists and drug runners.” When that statement, made in June, caused uproar, he did not scale back and, in fact, made many more insulting remarks that are not just going to upset millions of Mexican-Americans but also the Latino voters in the country.

Donald Trump, however, paid no attention to the uproar in a large section of voters in the country, as well as the Latinos in general, intentionally for short-term gains. He understood correctly that his bizarre views appealed to a strong minority of the Republicans who held equally bizarre views about Mexicans, Latinos, and immigrants in general, a minority that fell behind him more solidly after the August 6 debate. This minority of extreme-right conservatives is, nevertheless, enough to allow Donald Trump a comfortable lead in the large pack in the race for the Republican ticket.

Aware that there were a few more he could get in his camp after analysing the post August 6 debate, he announced an immigration plan in which the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country would be sent home. Under him, if elected, the 14th Amendment that allowed citizenship to anyone born in the US, would be scrapped. And between Mexico and the US, in his immigration plan, a wall would be built and the money to build that wall would be paid by Mexico!

Critics of President Geourge W Bush who had concluded that, in him, the country had a president who ran the administration with the mentality of a cowboy, are now at a loss about how to describe Donald Trump. His idea of foreign relations is for the US to take the world by the neck and deal with it like a master treats his subjects. If elected, he said he would bomb ISIS to pulp and send ground troops to ensure that the terrorist group would be completely annihilated. And the expenses for such an adventure would be borne by Saudi Arabia. He also has equally absurd ideas about dealing with China.

The bizarre views of Donald Trump notwithstanding, he continues to amaze, puzzle, and worry different groups in the country differently. His extreme-right supporters are amazed about how his views have jelled them together to support him more enthusiastically, because, in him, they have found someone who is not afraid of expressing extreme views on sensitive issues because of “political correctness.”

The majority of Americans are puzzled how someone with such outlandish world-views and equally outlandish views on domestic issues is holding on to his lead in the Republican Party and even building on it. The Republican Party is worried because, unless they find a way to sideline him soon, he may damage the party to the extent where the White House would be for the asking for the Democrats.

The latest polls on the Iowa caucuses, to be held in February, that would kick off the 2016 presidential elections that have come out this week, are particularly worrisome for the Republicans. A new Bloomberg/Des Moines Registrar (Iowa’s main newspaper) poll conducted among Republican Iowa caucus goers, placed Donald Trump with 23% support firmly in lead. The more significant outcome of the poll was the fact that 61% of Iowa Republicans now view his candidature favourably against 35% who see it in an unfavourable light. In May, 63% had viewed him unfavourably, with 23% favourably.

Iowa, an agricultural state, is not really an important state in terms of its voter distribution to be truly representative of the national mood. Nevertheless, the performance of the candidates in the Iowa caucuses of the two main parties, have been taken seriously based on past presidential elections in giving an early indication of the chances of the candidates in eventually winning the ticket of their respective parties. Therefore, the Bloomberg/Des Moines poll result has only added to the worries of the Republican Party over Donald Trump.

It has been said that President Clinton had a telephone conversation with Donald Trump before the latter announced his candidature. The truth in the telephone call has not been proven though. Nevertheless, Donald Trump has now emerged the way President Clinton would have wanted if he had indeed made that telephone call -- to encourage him to become the Republican candidate. Given Donald Trump’s known views in politics, President Clinton, like many, knew that Hillary Clinton would have almost a walk over if the Republicans were forced to give him the ticket.

If Donald Trump holds on to the support he has been receiving from the extreme-right with now new elements consisting of those who are fed up with “political correctness” joining, the Republican Party would have to conjure up some tricks to deny him the ticket. Even if they can make something up and side-line Donald Trump eventually, he has threatened to become a third-party presidential candidate that too would hand the White House to the democrats on a silver platter.

If the Republicans were to deny him the ticket and also find a way to encourage him not to become a third-party candidate, with some luck, the bizarre views that he has thus far expressed on the major election issues have already done serious damage to the Republicans because some of the other candidates in the race have expressed views nearly as bizarre as Donald Trump to remain in the race and take away some of the extreme right voters of Donald Trump. Thus, the Republican Party seems damned if it nominated Donald Trump and also damned if it does not. Unless the Democrats come up with something more disastrous than Donald Trump, the Republicans’ road to the White House, at this stage, appears to be a bumpy one. 

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