Donald Trump’s rise to prominence in American politics has been remarkable to say the very least. In addition to being the definition of a left… well… right field candidate he is something of a walking paradox. He has both united and divided groups among the American electorate, polarized public opinion while running a campaign largely based on charismatic flair, cannot seem to remain consistent on either issues or endorsements to save his life and has promised to uphold the values of the Republican party while also threatening it’s hierarchy by flirting with the idea of running as an Independent.
Many articles have been published on Donald Trump, specifically with regards to his political and social views, and since there is hardly a point in urinating in a rapidly rising pool I’ve opted to look at a seldom considered aspect of Trump’s roller-coaster campaign: the positives. Other people will get the rage and indignation out. Other people will write politically charged pieces either defending Trump or slandering him. Political pundits on television will discuss the finer points of his rallies and viewpoints far better than I ever could. I’m specifically here to highlight the unsuspected positives of Trump’s foray into politics.
The title of this article is a throw back to the 2008 film ‘The Dark Knight’, the second installment of the hugely successful Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan. If you dig through the ‘Film Reviews’ column of this blog you will probably find a review of at least one of the three films. ‘The Dark Knight’ is a film with many memorable lines but the quote in particular I’d like to draw attention to is one said by the police commissioner James Gordon at the end of the film while Batman takes a fall for the greater good: “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero”. Now, I’m not comparing Donald Trump to Batman, that’s absolutely absurd for obvious reasons. I’m bringing that particular quote up because it summarizes what I think Donald Trump is either deliberately or inadvertently doing to the political structure in the United States. It may sound like madness if you have been following media coverage and opinion on the man but consider that Trump’s legacy, whether he wins or loses the nomination or the election, will be looked upon in hindsight with a grateful perspective.
The first matter to put to rest is to explain exactly how a businessman with absolutely no political background beyond harrying Barack Obama for his birth certificate managed to hijack the Republican party and become its strongest candidate for the oval office. Make no mistake about it, the rise of Donald Trump is a direct consequence of a substantial silent majority of Republican and ‘swing voters’ having enough of political correctness which has risen to stupid levels (wonderfully parodied by South Park) during the past eight years of the Obama administration. Leftist pundits have recently voiced their concern as to how the Republican primaries have seen a massive increase (20% +) in voter turnout compared to the campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney. The answer is simple. Political correctness and the culture of mob-rule it has inspired has forced those with dissenting views to the official/popular narrative to cower and remain silent. With the rise of Donald Trump, a candidate who repeatedly attacks political correctness with the subtlety of a lumberjack, these cowed voices have finally found a candidate worthy of going to the polls for. He is their mouthpiece and he does them proud.
The rise of Donald Trump is also down to Republican and the aforementioned ‘swing voters’ having been let down and betrayed by establishment candidates from both parties. I would wager that even some of the staunchest Republicans were silently glad to see George W. Bush leave office in 2008 having had their party’s name dragged through the mud and the swing voters would very well feel the same about Barack Obama’s tenure. Donald Trump does not come from an established political line and does not come with the baggage being affiliated with lobbyists brings as he has largely self-funded his own campaign. Clinton on the other hand is a double-whammy-no-go for these swing voters as she not only comes from an established political name but also has known ties to Wall Street, the target of much ire among heartland America. Amazingly enough the closest thing Donald Trump has to an equal in this regard is actually Bernie Sanders, a man who could not be further politically opposed to Trump if he tried. Both Sanders and Trump are drawing voters away from the establishment candidates, Clinton and Cruz, because they are seen by voters to stand apart from what has come before. In a sense, Barack Obama became president in a similar fashion. I’d even go as far to suggest that the political class did not plan on a little-known senator coming out of nowhere in 2004 having given the keynote address to the DNC and his meteoric rise to win the Democratic nomination over Clinton and then going on to win the election. Trump and Sanders are running on a similar platform, and that is why both are seeing upturns in their fortunes compared to their rivals.
With that summary out of the way it’s time to get down to why the campaign of Donald Trump, regardless of it’s outcome, is actually a force for good despite all the hysteria surrounding it. If you have not considered the positives of Trump’s actions then I can hardly say I blame you as they are quite well hidden but to the discerning eye with a fair degree of foresight they become apparent.
The most obvious positive is that a Trump victory increases the chances of the incredibly shady Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) being scuttled. Trump is vehemently against the TPPA and if he ends up running against Sanders, who is likewise against the TPPA, then it’s death is all but assured no matter who wins. The second positive is that Trump seems to have a genuine interest in the vanishing ‘middle class’ in America. Again, he is much like Sanders in this regard. It’s no secret that Trump’s supporters are largely from middle and low income backgrounds as they are the groups that inevitably feel the greatest fallout from the shenanigans of Wall Street. The third positive is that he has utterly shattered pretentiousness of political dialogue. Trump’s speeches are absolutely insane at times and are unlike anything voters in America have heard before. All of the controversy, all the ‘gaffes’, all the confrontation – this is intentional. By making an extreme hyperbole out of his own speeches Trump has made the nonsensical, empty, and pretentious dialogue that every single American presidential candidate before employed laid bare for all to see. The fourth is that the coverage of Trump’s campaign, given how incredibly divisive it has been, by various media outlets is encouraging voters to assess multiple sources of information to make an informed choice.
However, the absolute biggest positive to come from the Trump campaign is that he, and Sanders once again, have shaken the political establishment to its core. Initially laughed off as a joke, nobody could have foreseen the degree of support Trump would garner, and nobody could have foreseen the results of ‘Super Tuesday’. Establishment candidates on the right like Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush have fallen like dominoes but Donald Trump still stands and stands far taller than his closest competition. It is only a matter of time before Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fold and when they do there is no alternative to Donald Trump for the Republican party. I say that because any attempt made by the Republican establishment to disavow Donald Trump in this instance will only result in Trump taking the support base he has simultaneously brought out of hiding and co-opted from the Republican faithful and running as an Independent, which spells certain doom for Republicans in the upcoming election. The brilliance of this is that the Republican party only has itself to blame for this as they have failed to recognize and reign in rather than appease and facilitate an increasingly volatile extreme far-right aspect within their own ranks. The nuts have well and truly taken over the house. Trump is aware of this, and this amicably explains the extreme rhetoric that characterizes his speeches and rallies – he is selling a product he knows his audience will buy, because they have been conditioned to do so by those who came before himself. The masterstroke of the Trump campaign is that it has made this problem undeniably visible to all and that the serious autopsy and moderation of the American right wing that follows, potentially resulting in Republicans effectively turning back the clock and returning to their historic and noble roots, can only be an overwhelming positive for the entire political process going into the future. The nuts may have piled up and taken over but Trump will be the one who cracks them on behalf of not only the Republican party, but for all of America. Is Trump really taking such a huge fall for his fellow countrymen? Possibly. Regardless of the outcome it is still a major PR stunt for the man himself, if you agree with him or not it is hard to ignore the fact that any press is good press when you are in the public eye.
Before I conclude there is a point I would like to raise about Bernie Sanders in relation to the point I just made about the nature of the Republican party. Sanders has been the subject of much scrutiny by the liberal media, much of which seems determined to avoid a mistake like what happened in 2008 with Clinton missing out on the Democratic nomination, and as such has been somewhat shunning Sanders in favor of Clinton. Sanders is truly the Yin to Trump’s Yang, he really is. However, the really interesting thing about Sanders is that he is attracting considerable support from ‘old-school’ Republicans, who have become swing voters in his favor. Why has this happened? Because he sounds like a Republican, an old-school Republican. In fact, some pundits liken Sanders to the most popular president in American history: Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt was of course a Democrat but led the country through one of its hardest eras, in wartime and out of it. Roosevelt, in essence, was more like a moderate Republican than he was a Democrat by modern standards and this is exactly what these swing voters see in Sanders – a return to moderation in light of how extreme their own party has become. Democrats run a similar risk by shunning Sanders as the Republicans do by sunning Trump in that Sanders could feasibly run as an Independent (although he, unlike Trump, has made absolutely no indication that he would) and scuttle the hopes of the left and hand the election to Trump. The far more plausible scenario would be that the supporters Sanders has accumulated could boycott Clinton (despite his inevitable protests) in the event of her winning the nomination because of her establishment and lobbyist ties. This would also practically hand the election to Trump. That is still a wild card factor but it is one Democrats should really prepare for. There are contingencies Clinton could put into place if she has not already, making Elizabeth Warren her vice presidential candidate for one, but that is a matter for another article.
Will Trump win the election though? That ultimately depends upon who the Democrats field against him. If it is a contest between Trump and Clinton then the outcome I fear is inevitable, Trump will win by a slim margin. If it is between Trump and Sanders however then the jury is well and truly out. Two candidates who are anti-establishment and with little to no lobbying ties, both considered ‘extreme’ by their parties, both who were never intended to win the nomination, would make for a truly spectacular showdown. So, returning to the quote at the head of this article. Donald Trump is the candidate the Republican party deserves, but he is also the one it needs… he is the one all of America needs in order to see what has actually happened to the political process and why it is in serious need of maintenance. One of the most effective ways of making a satire or statement about something, especially in politics, is to use an extreme example and juxtapose it against the current reality to make people realize how close or detached the subject matter really is from reality. That, in summary, is the Trump campaign. This is the gift Donald Trump is giving to the American people, whether he or they realize it or not.