Win or lose, ‘Trumpism’ will leave its mark
EVEN if he loses the US presidential election, Donald Trump’s populist charge will leave its mark on the American body politic.
The 70-year-old billionaire 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 Mr Trump has managed to craft his own political brand, building a movement among the party’s disaffected rank-and-file.
Asked whether Mr Trump or House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking Republican elected official, better represent the party’s values, 51 percent of members choose Mr Trump and 33pc favour Mr Ryan.
As the 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 Mr 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.
But it is not just the foregrounding of a different set of issues that will endure. Mr Trump’s in-yourface style and aggressive rhetoric will leave a mark on future campaign strategies.
And this change in campaigning style may cross the liberal-conservative divide, as Democrats and progressives respond with heightened rhetoric of their own.
Mr Trump has played 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.
Mr Trump has had no problem filling vast halls with motivated voters, but his 60pc unfavourable opinion poll rating would have sunk a less shameless campaigner.
Expert opinion is divided about whether Mr Trump himself will want to remain in frontline politics if he loses, or whether he will try to rebuild his business brand.
Some of his supporters appear to be manoeuvring to create a Trumpbranded media platform that could monetise his populist message in a polarised news landscape. –