Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican Party nomination has sent the party into a real frenzy. Trump’s early lead in recent opinion polls has been described by some as a “temporary loss of sanity” by republican primary voters and “a cancer on conservatism”.
Freedom of Speech
Conservatives reel out all sorts of misinformation, half-baked truths, paranoia all cloaked in the respectable cloth of freedom of speech and conveniently propagated by Fox News. Then enters Trump, who throws off the cloak and throws out the baby with the water. The Conservatives are not happy. Fox News is very unhappy. They want to put Le Trump back in the conservative closet, judging by the rough treatment he received at the 7 August Fox News Republican Presidential Debate.
But Donald Trump is the face and the voice of the angry white American male who is discontented with the state of contemporary America and distrustful of everything that Obama represents. He was a prominent voice in the so-called ‘birther’ conspiracy theories until Obama‘s birth certificate was published. It seems that Le Trump does not hesitate to adopt any grievance of the angry white male, right or wrong. And there lies his appeal. He does not cast them off as deranged lunatics; he embraces their pain and their frustration. Le Trump listens to the conservative voices, and gives voice to their racism, their crass ill informed opinions. They see themselves edged out by the immigrants, liberals, voice of political correctness, they see their values are challenged, their opinions discounted.
Despite his bad showing in the Fox Republican Debate, Le Trump remains top in the Republican primary voters polls carried out by Fox News itself. It seems that so far, nothing can be done to keep him down or kick him out. Even Rupert Murdoch seems frustrated and irritated at the continuing circus. He recently tweeted – “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends let alone the country?” And his other publication, The Wall Street Journal opined that the conservative media that applaud Trump’s candidacy are hurting the conservative cause.
Is there any difference between Trump and the rest of the pack? Hilary Clinton does not think so. At a Democratic fund raising dinner in Clear Lake, Iowa she warned, “But don’t let the circus distract you… If you look at their policies, most of the other candidates are just Trump, without the pizzazz or the hair.” She may be right. And what exactly is the conservative cause, if not to rescue the country from immigrants, birthers and all.
The difference between Trump and the other nominees is not substance but style and pedigree. Trump, a real estate magnate, a reality show star, speaks to the heart of conservative issues – disillusion, paranoia and xenophobia.
While the Republicans are confused about what to do about their man, the Democrats are taking things a little more seriously, they do not want to be caught unaware, the Democratic National Committee recently added Trump to its list of serious Republican party presidential candidates for 2016 – or are they just making fun of the Republicans? It will be interesting to see how the Republicans kill their own shadow in the months ahead.
Published in The European Financial Review on August 1 2015