Win or lose, ‘Trump­ism’ will leave its mark

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Even if, as most polls pre­dict, he loses to­day’s US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Don­ald Trump’s pop­ulist charge will leave its mark on the Amer­i­can body politic. The 70-year-old bil­lion­aire ty­coon is the Repub­li­can flag-bearer even though part of the Grand Old Party’s es­tab­lish­ment has re­jected him, and oth­ers are vot­ing for him while hold­ing their noses. But Trump has man­aged to craft his own po­lit­i­cal brand, build­ing a move­ment among the party’s dis­af­fected rank-and-file.

Asked whether Trump or House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-rank­ing Repub­li­can elected of­fi­cial, bet­ter rep­re­sent the party’s val­ues, 51 per­cent of mem­bers choose Trump and 33 per­cent fa­vor Ryan. As the pres­i­den­tial race comes down to the wire, and the right faces the prospect of Demo­crat Hillary Clin­ton in the White House, some party lead­ers are com­ing back to the fold. But Trump has di­vided the party, both with his brash style and by over­turn­ing con­ser­va­tive or­tho­doxy with his op­po­si­tion to free trade, iso­la­tion­ist for­eign pol­icy and flex­i­ble stance on wel­fare and deficits.

The mav­er­ick new­comer has even cam­paigned for paid parental leave, anath­ema to the small-gov­ern­ment con­ser­va­tive right. “Ba­si­cally, the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship hates Trump,” Robert Shapiro, pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Columbia Uni­ver­sity said. “They would like his sup­port­ers, but his sup­port­ers are at­tached to Trump,” he warned, pre­dict­ing that the phenomenon Trump calls his “move­ment” will con­tinue af­ter Elec­tion Day. “His sup­port­ers are still go­ing to be there, and they are go­ing to have their po­si­tions on trade and im­mi­gra­tion and all these other is­sues,” Shapiro said. “And what will also re­main is the hate for the Democrats and Hillary Clin­ton and also the main­stream Repub­li­can Party.”

But it is not just the fore­ground­ing of a dif­fer­ent set of is­sues that will en­dure. Trump’s in-your-face style and ag­gres­sive rhetoric will leave a mark on fu­ture cam­paign strate­gies. “He has changed po­lit­i­cal cam­paign­ing,” Jeanne Zaino, a pro­fes­sor at Iona Col­lege said. “We are likely to see more can­di­dates try­ing to repli­cate what he has done, try­ing to work out­side the party, to use so­cial me­dia to go over the head of the party,” she pre­dicted. “And we are go­ing to see a lot of rough talk out there, be­cause peo­ple will think: ‘It worked for Trump, I am go­ing to give it a shot’.” And this change in cam­paign­ing style may cross the lib­eral-con­ser­va­tive di­vide, as Democrats and pro­gres­sives re­spond with height­ened rhetoric of their own. “There is a strain of enor­mous pop­ulism in both the Repub­li­can and the Demo­cratic par­ties and we are go­ing to see that for a long time,” Zaino said. “It is go­ing to be a chal­lenge for these two um­brella par­ties to re­cap­ture this re­ally frus­trated base.”

Trump has played mas­ter­fully on frus­tra­tions with the Wash­ing­ton and Wall Street elites, vow­ing to cham­pion blue-col­lar male white vot­ers’ con­cerns about eco­nomic ex­clu­sion. But as he has done so, he has in­sulted or man­aged to of­fend women, im­mi­grants, African Amer­i­cans, Mus­lims and the hand­i­capped-deep­en­ing Amer­ica’s di­vides. Trump has had no prob­lem fill­ing vast halls with mo­ti­vated vot­ers, but his 60 per­cent un­fa­vor­able opin­ion poll rat­ing would have sunk a less shame­less cam­paigner. And his cam­paign has en­er­gized, at least on so­cial me­dia, the Amer­i­can right’s racist and anti-Semitic un­der­belly-last week, the Ku Klux Klan’s news­pa­per en­dorsed him. This toxic coali­tion may be unique, and main­stream Repub­li­cans may be able to dis­tance them­selves from the big­oted ex­tremes, but it will not dis­ap­pear overnight. This in it­self is a vic­tory for Trump’s more ide­o­log­i­cal sup­port­ers, like his po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sor Roger Stone. “The party isn’t go­ing to go back to be­ing the coun­try club party of Jeb Bush,” Stone told lib­eral news site Vox. “It’s not go­ing to go back to be­ing the Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment party of Paul Ryan and Mitch McCon­nell,” he warned main­stream con­ser­va­tives. “The Trump move­ment is go­ing to be dom­i­nant in the party. It’s go­ing to be in­flu­en­tial and im­por­tant in the party.”

Ex­pert opin­ion is di­vided about whether Trump him­self will want to re­main in front­line pol­i­tics, or whether he will try to re­build his busi­ness brand. Some of his sup­port­ers ap­pear to be ma­neu­ver­ing to cre­ate a Trump-branded me­dia plat­form that could mon­e­tize his pop­ulist mes­sage in a po­lar­ized news land­scape.

But at the very least, his team has built an enor­mous data­base of sup­port­ers and donors that will be of in­es­timable value to who­ever next seeks to up-end the ap­ple cart.


VIR­GINIA: Cam­paign of Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump Sup­port­ers hold plac­ards dur­ing a rally by Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump cam­paign at the Loudoun Fair­grounds in Lees­burg, Vir­ginia.

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