Don­ald Trump: New face of Amer­ica?

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Rashid A Mughal Email:mughal_rashid@hot­mail.com

THOSE who are watch­ing the Amer­i­can Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion keenly are sur­prised. Some are per­turbed and some scared. Many are shocked and even con­fused to hear and see the elec­tion re­sults, so far. For some it is the most event­ful elec­tion in a way. No one thought or pre­dicted that the ec­cen­tric, baised, re­venge­ful, racist and a tem­per­a­men­tal per­son of nar­row vi­sion whose knowl­edge of In­ter­na­tional af­fairs is ex­tremely lim­ited, could get the nom­i­na­tion of the Repub­li­can party, Even the se­nior party heads are hav­ing night­mares as to how a man like Trump would go that high in se­cur­ing the nec­es­sary del­e­gates, re­quired for the party nom­i­na­tion. What per­haps started as fun has now trans­formed in to reality and all the big wigs in the Repub­li­can party, who ini­tially joined the race, had to ei­ther quit the race out of des­per­a­tion or re­tire af­ter hav­ing seen the vot­ers mood.

A per­son like Trump who con­sis­tently and con­tin­u­ously showed mis­trust for me­dia and even re­fused to come on CNN, has so far man­aged to not only main­tain­ing a lead over his ri­vals within the party but has de­fied all po­lit­i­cal and eth­i­cal norms for run­ning in the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions of the world’s most pow­er­ful coun­try. When it comes to me­dia, he la­bels them as dis­hon­est and hor­ri­ble hu­man be­ings. He goes on to as­sert that if he’s elected as Pres­i­dent, it is go­ing to be like this.

“Yeah, it is . ... It is go­ing to be like this,” Trump re­sponded when a re­porter asked whether we should ex­pect the same press-bash­ing if he winds up in the White House, an­swer­ing” yes” with a frank­ness that no right-think­ing Wash­ing­ton po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant would rec­om­mend.

Writ­ing in The New York Times, Seglin says “The one mo­ment where he didn’t seem to change the sub­ject or de­flect was when asked if he would be­have as he did to­day if he is pres­i­dent. A sim­ple, ‘yes,’ was his an­swer. “And, for Seglin, that re­sponse was no­table. “Af­ter a press con­fer­ence full of name call­ing, de­flec­tion, and a lack of press press­ing him on specifics, that one “yes” seemed to be a mo­ment of bru­tal hon­esty about who he is, how he is, and how he con­tin­ues to be.

If you think that the pri­mary sea­son was ugly, with Trump ver­sus Clin­ton in the gen­eral elec­tion, it’s about to get much, much worse. “This is per­haps the long way round to say­ing that the prob­lem of Don­ald Trump is that we face some­one who is su­perb at pro­ject­ing an in­tegrity that, at root, he lacks.” “Trump is not deeply hon­est, but he can aver deep hon­esty. So far we’ve al­lowed him to get away with it.” Jonathan Chait of New York Mag­a­zine as­serts that Trump Univer­sity, he set up, was a “to­tal scam,” as demon­strated by the un­sealed doc­u­ments and ob­serves that the Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign is also rooted in de­ceit­ful tac­tics. He con­cludes, “The cam­paign, like the ‘univer­sity,’ is a fraud de­signed to ben­e­fit Trump by ex­ploit­ing the un­e­d­u­cated, the des­per­ate, and the vul­ner­a­ble.”

Ac­cord­ing to Greg Sergeant of The Wash­ing­ton Post, Trump is per­son­ally cruel and ra­pa­cious: He and his pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy, are di­rectly screw­ing peo­ple.” As Trump is es­ca­lat­ing his con­flict with the news me­dia, the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of jour­nal­ism are fight­ing back. The pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee touched off a firestorm when he spent much of his com­bat­ive news con­fer­ence in New York re­cently blast­ing the me­dia, and sin­gling out some re­porters for de­ri­sion. “I’m go­ing to con­tinue to attack the press,” he de­clared. “...I find the press to be ex­tremely dis­hon­est. I find the po­lit­i­cal press to be un­be­liev­ably dis­hon­est.” He also called jour­nal­ists “not good peo­ple” and sleazy.

Asked if he would main­tain his anti-me­dia hos­til­ity if he be­came pres­i­dent, Trump told re­porters, “Yeah, it is go­ing to be like this. You think I’m gonna change? I’m not gonna change,” un­less the me­dia does a bet­ter job and cov­ers him fairly. Thomas Burr, Pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Press Club, re­jected Trump’s ar­gu­ment that the me­dia should be “ashamed of them­selves” be­cause they in­ves­ti­gated his fundrais­ing for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans. “Don­ald Trump mis­un­der­stands— or, more likely, sim­ply op­poses—the role a free press plays in a demo­cratic so­ci­ety,” Burr said in a news re­lease. “Re­porters are sup­posed to hold pub­lic fig­ures ac­count­able. Any Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal can­di­date who at­tacks the press for do­ing its job is cam­paign­ing in the wrong coun­try. In the United States, un­der our Con­sti­tu­tion, a free press is a check on politi­cians of all par­ties.

Ear­lier in the cam­paign, Trump warned that as pres­i­dent he would try to change the li­bel laws to make it eas­ier for him to sue news or­ga­ni­za­tions for sto­ries he doesn’t like and that he be­lieves are wrong or bi­ased against him. His cam­paign has de­nied cre­den­tials to some news or­ga­ni­za­tions that Trump feels crit­i­cize him too much. He also made fun of a New York Times re­porter who has a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity, wav­ing his arms er­rat­i­cally to im­i­tate man­i­fes­ta­tions of the re­porter’s ail­ment. At his ral­lies, Trump reg­u­larly points out the me­dia, penned in­side a re­stricted space, and in­vites the crowd to jeer at them.

“I have never re­ceived such bad public­ity for do­ing such a good job,” Trump said at the New York press con­fer­ence. Dur­ing ques­tion­ing from re­porters, Trump called one jour­nal­ist “a sleaze” and said sar­cas­ti­cally that an­other was “a real beauty.” Trump’s pur­pose ap­pears to be to di­vert at­ten­tion from is­sues or de­vel­op­ments that dam­age his cam­paign, and to un­der­mine the me­dia’s cred­i­bil­ity so vot­ers don’t be­lieve neg­a­tive sto­ries about him.

But over the last eight months, Trump has shown that the racism in his an­nounce­ment speech was just his open­ing bid. Since then he has built a na­tivist cam­paign aimed at a long list of Oth­ers. He has ques­tioned el­i­gi­bil­ity of Pres­i­dent Obama for not be­ing na­tive Amer­i­can be­cause of place of his birth and de­ployed same ar­gu­ment against other can­di­dates to sug­gest that Cuban-Amer­i­cans Ted Cruz and Marco Ru­bio are in­el­i­gi­ble for the pres­i­dency. He has called for a na­tional data­base of Amer­i­can Mus­lims and a visa ban for Mus­lim trav­ellers. He has ridiculed women and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, lauded Ja­panese in­tern­ment, and goaded his sup­port­ers to vi­o­lence. This an­i­mus won him the sup­port last week of David Duke, for­mer Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Repub­li­can lead­ers can’t be blamed for miss­ing the rise of Trump. But the party must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for cul­ti­vat­ing a base re­cep­tive to Trump. For decades Repub­li­can politi­cians worked to per­fect dog-whis­tle pol­i­tics. There was a cer­tain genius to the coded lan­guage of “law and or­der,” “wel­fare queens,” “in­ner-city prob­lems,” and “states’ rights.” The words blended anx­i­eties over crime, eco­nomic in­se­cu­rity, ur­ban de­cline and fed­eral power with racism. It marked a per­verse sort of progress: Open racism was no longer po­lit­i­cally palat­able, so politi­cians had to of­fer some­thing else.

By the mid-2000s, it was be­com­ing clear that the Repub­li­can Party was a vic­tim of its own suc­cess. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s com­pas­sion­ate con­ser­vatism helped him win 44 per­cent of the His­panic vote, a num­ber un­matched by any other mod­ern Repub­li­can can­di­date. But when he tried to move for­ward with im­mi­gra­tion re­form, a siz­able chunk of the Repub­li­can base mo­bi­lized to stop him. In the heated bat­tles that fol­lowed, it be­came clear that within the Repub­li­can Party, a rhetor­i­cal com­mit­ment to His­panic vot­ers was fine. A po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment was not.

Since then, party lead­ers have tried to have it both ways, pur­su­ing both mi­nor­ity outreach and dog­whis­tle pol­i­tics at the same time. En­ter Trump. Rather than pitch his racism so only fel­low racists can hear, he speaks in a nor­mal reg­is­ter. He may ob­fus­cate – a “lousy ear­piece” here, a “RT en­dorse­ment” there – but on the whole he has el­e­vated sub­text to text. And do­ing so has net­ted him three of four early pri­mary states and a sub­stan­tial polling lead go­ing into Su­per Tues­day.

Not all Trump vot­ers are racists. Some feel so alien­ated by Amer­i­can pol­i­tics that they are will­ing to dis­count Trump’s racist com­ments, which is it­self a chal­lenge Amer­i­cans must face head on. It would be easy to write this off as a Repub­li­can prob­lem. But the Charleston mas­sacre serves as a stark re­minder that this is an Amer­i­can prob­lem. Those murders hap­pened be­fore Trump be­gan main­stream­ing the na­tivism, racism and vi­o­lence at the heart of his cam­paign. It will take all of us to bat­tle the flames he has fanned.

But as he is the front-run­ner for the nom­i­na­tion, Repub­li­cans have a spe­cial obli­ga­tion to stand against Trump’s racism. Can­di­dates try­ing to nav­i­gate the Trump phe­nom­e­non have tried var­i­ous tac­tics: ig­nor­ing him, shad­ow­ing him, echo­ing him. Now that it has been made plain that Trump is court­ing the racist vote, Repub­li­cans must now un­equiv­o­cally de­nounce him. But they must also purge any ves­tige of the pol­i­tics of racism from their party, from at­tempts to sup­press the black vote to im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy re­quir­ing the forced ex­pul­sion of mil­lions of peo­ple. Only once they make it clear that their party does not want the racist vote can they fore­stall an­other can­di­dacy like Trump’s. — The writer is For­mer Con­sul­tant, In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion and In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion, Di­rec­tor (Em­i­gra­tion), Pro­tec­tor of Em­i­grants.

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