Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The rise of Trump

A few weeks ago I was over in the United States for a short winter holiday in the sun.

As is quite usual for me I didn’t catch anywhere the number of rays I was planning on for one very simple reason. I am addicted to Fox News.

My addiction first started seven or eight years ago now when Glenn Beck was at his ridiculous height. Here was a man who spouted shocking right-wing claptrap but as long as he shed a tear during every show millions of viewers would idolise him.

He was talking to ‘real’ America, right?

Of course eventually Beck became too extreme even for Fox News and he was eventually given the boot (or resigned to start up his own network – depending on your version of the truth) but Fox’s support of far right cranks has continued unabated. It’s gripping.

In 2015 the cable network’s idolisation has moved. Rather than Beck (although worryingly he does appear to be making something of a comeback), Palin or Huckabee Fox is now raising the behemoth that is Donald Trump to be its figurehead for saving a broken nation.

The problem is Trump is seemingly bypassing the traditional staging post of crank and marching clearly into the domain of dangerous.

After his well-publicised comments on Mexicans and rape, just to name one controversy, Mr Trump has seemingly now jumped the shark (if the Fonz was around today he would have had the same hair ‘style’).

Mr Trump has called for a ‘total and complete’ halt on Muslims entering the US.

It doesn’t take any intellect whatsoever to readily deconstruct Mr Trump’s nonsensical cry so I won’t even try, save to say that it is really, really stupid.

The worrying thing however is that there is a more than reasonable prospect that Mr Trump will become the Republican nominee for the 2016 Presidential election. How did it get to this?

The simple truth is that he has seemingly found a winning formula in that he is appealing to an increasingly extreme selectorate of Republican registered supporters.

If you happen to go to America and talk to ordinary people, I’ve done it several times, you will find there is more and more people who are fed up of Washington politics and the mainstream media, they want their views heard and they want someone who mirrors them to be giving voice to them publicly.

Mr Trump’s comments chime perfectly with an increasingly vocal minority of political activists and whilst they are the ones who will be choosing who the GOP puts forward for President next year he is not going to stop, and the truth is rather than scrutinising him they idolise his rhetoric.

It doesn’t matter even that ‘the Donald’ is on occasion happy to be associated with views way, way past the fringe of acceptability – looks at his reluctance to condemn some of the comments around the birther movement – his acolytes continue to adore him, their adulation increasing exponentially with every massive misstep.

As the primary race gets into full swing it is noticeable that Mr Trump continues to be way out in the lead in most polls and many would argue him to be the presumptive nominee.

Of course one might contend that the GOP has only themselves to blame. The raft of other potential nominees seeking election are comparatively so bland.

To many Republicans the likes of Christie, Cruz and Rubio are just so moderate, so compromising. Why have someone who might appeal to the whole spectrum when you can have someone who speaks with purity?

They don’t want that sort of person representing them in the White House, they want someone with principle.
There is however one huge stumbling block for Mr Trump. The American people.

Surely in the unlikely event that he does receive the GOP nomination from an increasingly radical membership base those ordinary, sensible people will have the sense to vote for someone else? The overwhelming number of non-partisan will voters will take the small ‘c’ conservative approach of sticking with what they know, won’t they?

And when they do we can start a whole new cycle of cranks arguing that Mr Trump was all along in touch with ordinary voters, it was those in the media who misrepresented him…

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