Donald Trump; billionaire, real estate mogul, TV personality, probable toupee wearer and potential president of the United States. IDK, you may have heard of him he’s kind of mainstream at the moment …
In June last year when ‘The Donald’ hilariously announced his presidential bid ( classic Donald) I – amongst most sane people- assumed it was something for tumblr to go wild about and for reddit users to produce endless meme material on.
In a few short months it would be over.
I naively assumed the Tycoons limelight would simply provide the world wide web with fresh humour, my favourite comedians with some new material and then slowly fade into a distant memory. I imagined I would revisit Trump’s failed campaign from time to time with cries of;
‘omg, remember that crazy time Donald Trump ran for president???? Thank GOD even AMERICA wasn’t crazy enough to vote him in’
But alas, Donald Trump did not fade, in fact his neo-liberalist ideology and his brash nature have so far guided him to winning 10 states and 15 primaries, making him the Republican front runner.
While Trump is largely emblematic of all of the values and ideals which are so highly esteemed in America; wealth, power, belief in free market values, personal success, (not including his extensive list of failed ventures including my personal favourite ‘Trump Vodka’ introduced under the slogan ‘success distilled’), to many his successful trajectory into the world of politics seems flabbergasting.
As Waleed Aly conveyed in last weeks Sydney Morning Herald:
“Republicans have been training their voters to indulge every reactionary prejudice for years. Trump simply does this better, louder, and with less varnish than his rivals”
His ideologies are nothing new to the Republican party, particularly among devout Tea Party candidates like Ted Cruz. As Aly confers they are simply making headlines more frequently due to the ferocity with which Trump espouses them and the powerful resonance citizens have with them.
Constantly I find myself expressing my shock, my disbelief, in fact my utter horror at the success of Trump (won’t anyone think of the children???) . Generally this rant begins with begin with the classic opener;
“I would honestly be so embarrassed to be an American right now”,
followed frequently by;
“What even is America?? How the heck (insert more colourful language at your discretion) do you go from Obama to Trump??”,
and finally my closing remark,
“WHO IS- AND WHY ARE THEY- VOTING FOR THIS TROLL????*”.
* The author was not using expletives, simply referencing Trumps alikeness to Troll Dolls
This is generally where I find myself backtracking, reminding myself that in Australia we’ve only too recently seen a similar story unfurl.
“I enjoy onions”
You see the people voting for Trump are the same people who (to a lesser degree) voted for ex Australian PM Tony Abbott. If you don’t recall that was the PM who munched 0n raw onions, called being an Aboriginal “A lifestyle choice”, told a female party member she had sex appeal, *pauses for breath*, stated that women would never reach equal political representation for “physiological reasons“, said he’d feel “a bit threatened” by gay marriage (why Tony you gonna die in a stream of rainbow glitter???), called climate change “absolute crap” and many more questionable things…
Now that’s what I call real sex appeal
His success, like Trump’s, was in his ability to play on the fear harboured by ordinary (and if you’ll pardon me – unsavvy) citizens, it’s not simply fear of the unknown, but fear of change which perfectly plays into a conservative agenda. To see this one must only refer to the respective slogans of the neoliberal politicians; “Make America great again” and “Stop the Boats“. Both campaigns, either explicitly or implicitly, convey the desire for a retrospective form of governance, both unprogressive and aggressive in its nature. Both campaigns seemingly say, ‘stay out if you’re not one of us, you’re not welcome here’, this exclusive brand of politics is an essential component of both Abbott and Trump’s rise.It is these hard-lined approaches appeal to voters who see them as un-sanitised truth talkers, an approach to politics unmarred by the constant need to be politically correct and filtered. This is positively met by many individuals who are unwilling to change their mode of life or accept partial blame for societal or environmental issues (re: climate change) and feel they have a strong leader, who will battle for their right to do as they please (‘damn the environment Susan, if I don’t want to recycle I bloody well won’t, this nanny state of politics won’t control ME’).
Basically its this freedom to do as you like (so long as you’re a white male) that has gained Trump so much support in the self-serving states of America all the while creating contempt within his own party. Donald Trump is a showman, he’s rude, he’s demanding, he’s image obsessed and aggressive in almost every manner of the word – he is therefore far from a team player. So it makes sense that his popularity with disillusioned and discontent voters is not reciprocated amongst his fellow republican party members. Rather he is regarded with wariness by most members who have founded concerns about his ability to toe party line and present to the world the brand of the Republican, rather than Trump-esque, politics. Like Tony Abbott, with his idiotic introduction of Knight-hoods, Trump gives the finger to party politics that don’t suit him and refuses to consult his elders for reassurance.
“We have to stand up tall and answer freedoms call”
Like Abbott was, Trump is in bed with right wing media publications, allowing for a dissemination of his views to potential party voters and a healthy amount of outrage from the left (this only further enhances his popularity with conservative voters). As in Australia , America’s lack of diversity in media ownership has seen the domination of single viewpoints across multiple outlets. This lack of diversity has skewed the public’s perception of ‘moderate’ publications as dominantly neo-liberal and right winged sentiments are presented to the point where what is a balanced publication/source will be labeled as leftist. To this extent Trump’s, like Abbott’s, brand of politics easily gains support through invariably un-fact checked claims designed to disseminate fear.
He is THE man, not just a man running for the Republican party, voters feel an attachment to him and the well marketed personality he has formed for himself. His lack of prior allegiance to politics and absence of experience in such government positions is also surprisingly working in his favour, allowing the billionaire to appear as an outsider who works for no-one and acts solely for the concerns of the people. I think this has been Trump’s greatest calling card, while we can draw similarities between Tony Abbott and Trump’s ultra-conservative approach to politics, Abbott was solely a figurehead lacking the bravado and personality Trump has cultivated in order to succeed in a very American style of politics.
So here he is folks, let’s take a moment to appreciate the eloquence and finesse of the probable leader of the Republican party and potential president of America. . .
Also lets take a moment to reflect on the similarities of our own ex- Prime Minister, before we rush to judge America too hard…