The Trump Card: ‘I think I’ll get the nomination.’

I have been trying to avoid writing a post on Donald Trump because I find him so ridiculous that it would be a waste of time. But an intelligent young man, a frequenter of my local pub, actually believes he will be elected president of the United States.
So it’s my duty as a dual citizen of Australia and America to convince him otherwise.
There are quite a few extreme right-wingers, racists, gun enthusiasts and Republicans in the US – the only statistic that has any validity is the number of registered Republican voters: roughly 55 million – and the Democrats would have a number of crazies among their approximate 72 million registered voters.
But the majority of Americans do not like voting for extreme right-wing or left-wing candidates. But it’s also true that ideological-oriented Americans are the most politically active and they are the likeliest to vote. The respected Pew Research Center found in the 2014 elections that 65% of Republicans with a very unfavourable view of the Democratic Party were likely to vote, while 40% of Democrats with very unfavourable opinions of the GOP were likely to vote.
In the 2012 presidential election, 65 million Americans voted for the Democratic President Barack Obama and 60 million for his Republican rival Mitt Romney in a 58% turnout. Not bad for a US election where voting isn’t mandatory. Would it be possible for Donald Trump, if he were to become the Republican presidential nominee, to attract 60 plus million votes in the 2016?
I think it would be highly unlikely – first of all, for him to secure the nomination, and secondly, to get that many votes. Barry Goldwater, described as the leading conservative thinker in the US in the early 1960s, ran against President Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 election, and lost in a landslide. LBJ did run the ultimate scare campaign against the anti-communist Senator, but Goldwater did himself no favours with this speech in the Republican National Convention: “I would remind you that extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
In his 1963 book, Why Not Victory?, Goldwater wrote about the “world-wide Communist menace”: “We are at war; not a cold war, but a real war – we can call it the Communist war, war of a more deadly nature than any we have fought before.” That led to one of the most famous campaign ads, with a little girl counting flower petals, as a male voice counted down from ten to one. Then her face was frozen and images of nuclear war played out, suggesting Goldwater would launch a nuclear attack against the Commies. No wonder he lost by a landslide.
Well, that was half a century ago, and the new voice of conservatism belongs to Donald Trump, whose explosive attacks are aimed at fellow Republicans on the growing list of presidential candidates, from Jeb Bush to Lindsey Graham, brave enough to have a go at the billionaire business magnate and celebrity publicity seeker. The scare campaign against Trump would make the one against Goldwater look like a Hollywood roast.
Trump’s latest rants started on June 16 when he threw his hat into the crowded ring for the Republican presidential nomination, and targeted Mexicans in his speech: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best . . . They’re sending people that have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Republicans, who lost a lot of Latino votes in the past two elections, have been trying to boost their image with candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both favourites of Hispanic voters. Bush, former Florida governor and brother of the former president, has a Mexican wife, speaks Spanish, and has long supported Cuban exiles. Florida Senator Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants. Last week, Trump spent four hours in Laredo, Texas, a city bordering Mexico, and said: “I love the people. Latinos — they’re great.” But he added: “There is great danger with the illegals, tremendous danger with illegals.” And for a man, who used to enjoy firing people on his reality show, The Apprentice, he had a strange reason for thinking he would get the Latino vote: “I think I’ll win the Hispanic vote. Over the years, thousands and thousands of Hispanics have worked for me.”
But Trump’s most controversial comments came in an attack on one of his least favourite politicians, fellow Republican and former presidential candidate, Senator John McCain. He said he was not a “war hero,” because he was captured in Vietnam, and “I like people who weren’t captured.” Of course, this resulted in a number of articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and Politico, to name a few, contrasting Trump’s draft deferments while John McCain was a POW and being tortured in Vietnam.
Trump’s Republican rivals also blasted him over his criticism of Senator McCain. Marco Rubio said: “It’s not just absurd. It’s offensive. It’s ridiculous. And I do think it is a disclaimer as commander in chief.” Jeb Bush, former Texas governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker joined the critics. That prompted Trump to suggest Perry was unintelligent and Bush was weak. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made this plea to Trump on CBS: “Don’t be a jackass. Run for president. But don’t be the world’s biggest jackass.” Trump retaliated by calling Graham an “idiot” and a “total lightweight.” And his coup de grace came in a speech in South Carolina when he revealed that Graham had given him his mobile phone number several years ago, asking him to put in a good word for a morning news show. (See AP photo at top of this post showing Trump with fans in the audience.) Trump read out the number and said of Graham: “He doesn’t seem like a very bright guy.” Senator Graham’s voicemail box was full by the afternoon.
The Democrats’ favoured candidate, Hillary Clinton (see photo above), decided to get in on the fun by having a go at the billionaire: “Donald Trump, finally a candidate whose hair gets more attention that mine. But, there’s nothing funny about the hate he is spewing at immigrants and their families, and now the insults he’s directed at a genuine war hero, Senator John McCain. It’s shameful, and so is the fact that it took so long for most of his fellow Republican candidates to start standing up to him.”
In spite of, or maybe because of, all this criticism, Trump was leading the Republican polls. He is supremely confident: “I’m Republican. I’m conservative. I’m in first place by a lot, it seems. I think I’ll get the nomination.” Long-time Washington Post columnist, EJ Dionne, does not believe Trump will get the nomination, but he told Fran Kelly on ABC’s RN Breakfast last week the GOP should be concerned: “Trump’s vote does show that whether you call them right wing, or call them Tea Party, or call them disaffected, there is a significant chunk of the Republican electorate that is very angry and the Republicans are going to have to deal with that chunk of the electorate.”
Sydney Morning Herald Investigations Editor, Anne Davies, a former Washington correspondent for the SMH and the Age, explained the appeal of politicians like Trump and Clive Palmer on the Friday Show, hosted by Janine Perrett, on Sky News: “They’re larger than life, capable of saying very strange things, but they have ‘I’m a normal person’ aspect to them, so there’s something appealing about them.”
Mark Levine, Democrat strategist and US talk show host, told Emma Alberici on ABC’s Lateline that Trump’s campaign was bound to run out of steam: “Unfortunately, it is going to run out of puff, which as a Democrat disappoints me. As a Democrat, I would love to see Donald Trump win the Republican nomination. I think if he did, Hillary could win 50 states. So I say, ‘Go, Donald, go.’ But unfortunately he’s such a demagogue, he’s so over the top that I’m quite confident he will run out of steam — though I hope he doesn’t, to the extent that he shows the Republican Party as a bunch of bigots who don’t care about war heroes. As a Democrat, I’m fine with showings the Republican Party that way.”
My sentiments exactly. Go Donald, go!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s