The candidacy of Donald Trump was like a bolt from the blue for the party and the nation. Unlike erstwhile Republican presidential candidates or his rivals in party primaries, Trump does not have an official political profile. His only profile is that of a ‘wealthy celebrity’ – his wealth from being a realtor and his celebrity status from being a well-known face on an American reality TV show. This status coupled with his fierce rhetoric amused the American public, especially the Republican rank and file, and by steamrolling every other known veteran Republican candidate and challenging the GOP establishment, Trump won the party primaries. The GOP convention was forced to accept his candidature with much scepticism.
However, Trump seems to be on his way to self-destruction. Venomous rhetoric that he unleashed successfully during the primaries was not favourably accepted across the country. There was widespread protest against his candidatureat the primary stage itself. For an interim period spanning the eve of the convention and a month after the formal acceptance of his candidature, Trump scaled down the intensity of his attack on different social sections.
Undisputed Candidate of the GOP
Trump’s blaming propaganda for the contemporary American ills appealed to the overwhelming Republican members of his own social and class nature and won him the Republican nomination. However, these tactics failed to draw the support of the diverse American society and fetch him a pan-American approval.
Trump came to the centre stage of American politics riding on the waves of popular discontentment against the government and the Republican Party. Yet, he miserably failed to articulate and capitalise on the general apathy towards eight years of Democratic rule. Instead, Trump is overworking to make his own trap of unpopularity.
There are many inbuilt deficiencies in his candidature. Trump summarily lacks a comprehensive vision for the future of the American people and for America as a nation in the global system. He lacks a proper comprehension of the American society, American history and complex world politics. This manifests in his pronouncements and comments.
Alienating Social Groups and Shrinking Support Base
The American society is a confederation of multiple interests, beliefs and religious denominations. The presidential candidate ought to woo every social segment, however in minority they are, and humour every interest. The minorities are decisive in the pluralist democracy of the nation. The irony is that instead of appeasing these divergent groups, Trump has alienated them with his brash statements and comments. Every word he utters and every statement he pronounces have been criticised and abhorred.
Disapproval and criticism of his policy and conduct are not confined to the opposition. The Independents and an influential section of his own party are also at loggerheads with him. Leading Republican leaders are either silent or hesitant in backing Trump, lest they might lose their chances in the Congressional election.
Donald Trump, with his virulent attack on the Hispanics, has evoked a sense of fear and insecurity in the minds of immigrants across the country. His prime target is the Mexicans whom he calls criminals. He accused that out of 23 million Mexicans in the US, 11 million were undocumented and 2 million were with criminal records. Trump went on to state that upon election, he would deport them from day one. In between, he paid a dramatic visit to the Mexican capital for a conciliatory dialogue with the Mexican President on the construction of the border wall. It proved to be a tragic comedy, as his wishful thinking was snubbed by the Mexican President. Before the day had ended, Trump resumed his verbal insult on Mexican immigrants.
Despite his repeated attempts to placate the African Americans, they overwhelmingly support Hilary Clinton. His hardcore immigration policy has estranged the minority communities. It is not surprising that more than 90% of the minorities are opposed to Trump. His disparaging comments on women, Hilary Clinton in particular, has weaned away a good number of women voters. Leading women personalities of America has already announced their support to Hilary Clinton.
Unsolicited Member of the Party
It is no surprise that Trump is a stranger to the Republican family. The party establishment is reluctant to support him wholeheartedly. Many factors make him an unwelcome nominee. Firstly, he neither holds a post in the party establishment nor a public office representing the party. He is therefore looked upon as an upstart. Secondly, he came to win the party nomination by challenging the party establishment. To stir up his popularity, Trump mocked and even challenged the GOP leadership. The third and the most significant factor is that Trump is out of time with the traditional policy of the party. His economic, social and foreign policies are antitheticalto the liberal, market-led, pro-globalisation, world-policing policies of the Republican Party. His slogans –‘First America’, ‘American Wealth for Americans’– are denounced by the top names of the party.
Disdain for his incapacity to hold the post of the American President is so eloquent among the intelligentsia that about 50 leading figures associated with policy making, most of them Republicans, have come out with a statement denouncing Trump’s candidature. They have branded him ‘unfit’ for the American presidency. They see him as a high-risk candidate, and if elected, an adventurous President. His praise for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, and willingness to talk to the North Korean leadership, have deepened scepticism in his leadership. The party views him with more cynicism than confidence. The GOP leadership is disunited about him. Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is yet to commit to Trump fully. Some of the Congressmen have openly criticised their party candidate, while a few have turned hostile to him and announced support to Hilary Clinton. Unlike the propaganda controlled and managed by the family that ‘Republicans are united behind Trump’, it is in reality a fragmented party. According to the latest survey, only 41% of the party members are enthusiastic about the campaign.
Prof K.C. Abraham is the Academic Director of Centre for Public Policy Research. The views expressed by the author is personal and does not reflect that of CPPR.
This article was first published in The Dialouge
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