Focus 2016: Donald Trump is the joker in Presidential race

Published Dec 27, 2015, 12:01 am IST
Updated Mar 26, 2019, 2:21 pm IST
Donald Trump (Photo: AP)
 Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

Donald John Trump is defying the laws of political gravity. Taken less than seriously when he threw his hat in the Republican ring in June 2015, the real estate developer and reality TV personality has been surprising the whole of America with his bid to become the President. His presence in the 2016 US presidential election as the Republican candidate, or as an independent in the event of the Grand Old Party ditching him for Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, is likely to add zing to proceedings.

The signs are the November election will be between Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favourite to be the Democratic candidate and Donald Trump, although some Republicans began to believe during the campaign that he was actually a Democrat in disguise to spoil the race and hand victory to Hillary.  Conventional wisdom may dictate that any one of Trump’s outbursts would have sunk most politicians, but he has thrived on such controversy, his campaign renewing itself after each wave of demagoguery verging on fascism, his racial bigotry coming through regularly as in his rant against Mexicans and Muslims.

The big issue is the problem of migrants more than all the domestic political and public issues like jobs, healthcare and the entitlement programs in a stagnant economy. Trump had played the rabblerousing bigot on immigration so splendidly and so early as to have established a huge lead over all comers, including Ben Carson who was a close competitor for a while. Only as he skidded in popularity polls in Iowa at the hands of Cruz did doubts seem to creep in about Trump making 2016 the true ‘Year of the Outsider.’

The benefits of the hawkishness of the Republican stand are unclear even though xenophobia may be at its highest after the Charlie Hebdo terror events and the Paris attacks. At a time when post-ISIS, global politics seem a challenging chessboard, all the Republican candidates seem to be lacking the Reagan touch of aura of an imposing personality as seen among modern US Presidents. On the other hand, the Democratic frontrunner Hillary is no Roosevelt nor anywhere close to the charismatic John F. Kennedy, who among the modern US presidents seem to most mark the Democratic benchmark. The contemporary as opposed to the historical never seemed so mismatched.

While public anger may be seen to fuel the Republican bid, especially in the wake of the lame duck years of Barack Obama’s second term and its muddled foreign policy, the bookmakers, at least of the hardnosed British variety, seem unconvinced by the Trump phenomenon. They have him down as 6-1 third favourite for the presidency while Hillary is the odds-on favourite at 72 paise to the rupee. Bookies are known to put their money where their mouth is and rarely do two-horse races escape their ability to rate the contest. Even so, history would suggest after two consecutive terms of any party in power the ensuing election would be a closely run thing.

Civil rights issues may form the thrust of the Democratic campaign, especially in the wake of several police actions that have showed a proven bias against the blacks. And having triumphed in an increasingly racially mixed USA, Obama’s party will be banking on the racial divide and Trump’s antics are unlikely to have won over friends or influenced the non-ideological voters who form a substantial proportion of the country’s electorate.



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