Trump best mir­rors US do­mes­tic pol­i­tics

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Don­ald Trump has been hit­ting the head­lines al­most ev­ery day for his ab­surd and in­flam­ma­tory com­ments. To the sur­prise or cha­grin of many peo­ple, the bil­lion­aire run­ning for the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion has dom­i­nated the Repub­li­can race since July.

Ac­cord­ing to a CNN/ORC poll re­leased on Dec 23, 2015, Trump led the race by 39 per­cent sup­port with Ted Cruz (18.6 per­cent) andMarco Ru­bio (11.6 per­cent) fol­low­ing him. The other Repub­li­can can­di­dates are yet to fig­ure out how to shake off Trump’s lead.

Po­lit­i­cal ob­servers, how­ever, don’t con­sider Trump a “re­li­able” can­di­date; they be­lieve he may soon fall be­hind in the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion race be­cause of his care­less and ridicu­lous re­marks, for ex­am­ple, on im­mi­grants andMus­lims.

Still, peo­ple are won­der­ing how a per­son like Trump could dom­i­nate the Repub­li­can field into 2016.

The “Trump phe­nom­e­non”, no mat­ter how ab­surd it is, re­flects cer­tain ba­sic changes and trends in US do­mes­tic pol­i­tics. The phe­nom­e­non is es­sen­tially based on pop­u­lar con­tempt for po­lit­i­cal hypocrisy in the US, as op­posed to a per­son’s ca­pa­bil­ity to for­mu­late poli­cies or even gov­ern the coun­try. It seems Repub­li­can vot­ers want to changeWash­ing­ton’s po­lit­i­cal model and ex­pect a so-called out­sider to over­turn the tra­di­tional pat­tern of pol­i­tics, as most of them ap­pear tired of the po­lar­iza­tion in and dys­func­tion of the gov­ern­ment and Congress.

Among the vot­ers who don’t be­lieve tra­di­tional politi­cians can put the US back on track and thus sup­port Trump, white blue-col­lar work­ers com­prise the most con­sol­i­dated sup­port group. In fact, the group has be­come an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the Repub­li­can vote­bank. Ac­cord­ing to a PRRI-Brook­ings sur­vey, con­ducted by Pub­lic Re­li­gion Re­search In­sti­tute in part­ner­ship with the Brook­ings Institution, 55 per­cent of Trump’s supporters are white and work­ing class while the de­mo­graphic most likely to back him com­prises men aged be­tween 50 and 64 with no more than a high-school ed­u­ca­tion and wor­ries about job se­cu­rity be­cause of com­pe­ti­tion from im­mi­grants.

Over the past seven years, the US has seen many strug­gles be­tween the Democrats and Repub­li­cans— the US gov­ern­ment shut down in Oc­to­ber 2013 and the US ap­proval of Congress re­mains low (at a rate of less than 20 per­cent). There­fore, for many, Trump is a wel­come change. Un­like tra­di­tional can­di­dates, Trump, a bil­lion­aire with a big mouth and lit­tle re­spect for po­lit­i­cal taboos, has so­licited the sup­port of many or­di­nary peo­ple.

An­other se­ri­ous prob­lem with the US so­ci­ety is that some vot­ers have lost faith in the “Wash­ing­ton brand” of pol­i­tics. What Trump has of­fered— for ex­am­ple, the slo­gan “make Amer­ica great again”— is even hol­lower than “hope and change” pro­posed by US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama more than eight years ago. That so many peo­ple sup­port Trump’s slo­gan re­flects peo­ple’s dis­trust of and dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the ex­ist­ing po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, the gov­ern­ment and politi­cians. For in­stance, on for­eign pol­icy, US cit­i­zens seem to think the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­sponds slowly and softly to po­ten­tial threats. That’s why af­ter the Cal­i­for­nia shoot­ing in De­cem­ber, when Trump called for a to­tal ban onMus­lims’ en­try into the US, he got his high­est pub­lic rat­ing in a na­tional poll.

On the eco­nomic front, Obama could get a rel­a­tively high score, but eco­nomic growth has yielded lit­tle tan­gi­ble fruits for or­di­nary peo­ple. On so­cial is­sues, as racial con­flicts and shoot­ings in­crease and be­come more se­ri­ous, US cit­i­zens feel more in­se­cure and yearn for a “tough guy” who can take de­ter­mined mea­sures. Al­though it is too early to say whether Trump will win the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion race, one thing is cer­tain: his dom­i­na­tion by ex­ploit­ing pub­lic sen­ti­ments will have a huge im­pact on the Repub­li­can Party by pos­si­bly at­tract­ing new vot­ers to the party and re­flect­ing new devel­op­ments in US do­mes­tic pol­i­tics. In this re­gard, whether he wins or loses will be less im­por­tant than the ef­fect of his can­di­da­ture on US po­lit­i­cal life.

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