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The American Political Tragicomedy – Starring Trump and the Trumpites


When I decided to write this piece I had no idea that another episode in the series would have been playing itself out so soon. Of course, starring is the indefatigable Donald Trump, with a number of minor characters. The latest in the series shows Trump threatening to pull out of this week’s Republican presidential debate. This has sent the media, which is already transfixed by his antics, searching for answers. They start with the belief that Trump can get away with anything, no matter how crazy it sounds. They, however, come up with many views, as their opinions range wild. {{more}}There is a suggestion that it might be a game between Fox News and Trump, in an effort to build a bigger audience and to that extent Trump will reverse his decision. Some suggest that his blast against Fox News, which represents the Republican establishment, is designed to enhance the image he has been portraying as one who is against traditional politics and is anti-establishment. Then there are those who feel that the fact that he is leading in the polls means that he has nothing to gain and could only endanger his position with the caucuses a few days away.

We in the Caribbean grew up looking at the US as a bastion of democracy. But those who study American history and attempt to look more closely at the country will develop a different perspective. America, of course, is the land of the good, the bad and ugly. The media has been fixated with Trump and fascinated by his ability to connect with people. But there is little said about the people themselves, except that they represent the Republican base. For me, what is fascinating about this and says much about America is the fact that the two persons leading in the polls are on different ends of the political spectrum. They are able to attract huge crowds; earlier this week Sanders attracting up to 20,000 people to his rallies. Sanders, the social democrat in a country that sees Obama as socialist, Wow! In the far corner is Donald Trump, who says the most outrageous things possible. He will build a wall to keep out the Mexicans and get the Mexicans to pay for it. He wants to ban all Muslims. He has even dared to say that if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot somebody, his followers will remain loyal to him. One commentator admits that it is possibly true!

What is this about Trump and the Americans? Well, he is playing to the macho image that Americans like and besides he is rich and famous. Jeb Bush has become a mere image, following Trump’s description of him as low energy. Left to Trump, they would carry forces into Iraq and Syria and destroy ISIS and anything that comes in the way. Wide applause from a public that is wary about having American troops on the ground! What some are overlooking is that the world today is a completely different place. There are those abroad who still see America as the world’s police, but generally appreciate the new image that President Obama is trying to build. The bringing in of Cuba from the cold and the deal with Iran were much appreciated and brought applause from most of the world. Not so the US. Rubio plans to undo the steps taken to normalize relations with Cuba. Trump would have made a better deal with Iran, as if Iran is one of his business enterprises and as if the major powers had not been a part of the deal.

Trump realizes that his numbers grow with any outrageous statement he makes, forcing some of the other candidates to try to out-Trump him. There is much more to come in this series. Whatever happens at the caucuses in Iowa and New Hampshire will hopefully begin to clear up the mess. Would those who have been rallying around Trump turn up to vote at the primaries? Would the outcome of the primaries result in some candidates dropping out and in a reorganized contest? How all of this plays out for Trump is interesting to see, particularly with the Republican establishment beginning to feel that they would have to accept his candidacy as real. But how long can he continue to build a case around his wealth, as a man who could make deals and as one who can stand up to anything? Then, to top it all, he has Sarah Palin at his side. What a character!

What a couple! Is anyone able to decipher what she says?

Fortunately, the rest of the world is not so captivated by the nonsense that flows from his lips. The Brits lead the way. A parliamentary debate in response to a request from 574,000 petitioners to ban the presidential hopeful from Britain was classic and very British. Trump was described as obscene and insensitive, a demagogue, his words as poisonous and hateful. Some felt that as a man who hopes to take on the most powerful job in the world, his views have to be seriously tackled. Even those who were against banning him had things to say. One speaker said that they had banned people from Britain for a number of reasons, but “to ban one for stupidity” was something else!

Hopefully, before this gets completely out of hand, the American public will realize that the world is not as Trump conceives it to be. Let us hope that many who turn out to his rallies see this only as entertainment, as real comedy, tragic as it is.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.