After surprise wins, how good will it get for Donald Trump?
Trump’s supporters also seem unable to understand that even if he is elected, his vitriol will eventually catch up with him
The U.S. presidential election took another surprising turn on Tuesday when Republican frontrunner Donald Trump struck a conciliatory tone. He pledged to unite the party that many believe he has brought to the brink of destruction by deliberately offending one group after another, including chastising his political competitors, whom he frequently refers to as “losers” who are bought and paid for by “special interests.”
In his victory speech, following his “Super Tuesday” success, in which he won 7 states out of a total of 13 primary states, Trump claimed to have expanded the base of the Republican party by having secured support from Democrats, independent and even from a large numbers of Hispanic voters.
Despite the billionaire businessman having exhibited extreme vitriol throughout his campaign coupled with his open flirtation with authoritarianism and yes, racism, Republican primary voters cannot seem to get enough of it: During mass rallies, Trump’s supporters chant “USA,USA” while he rehashes his signature campaign promises; a wall with Mexico, a trade war with China and a ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. These seem to resonate well with voters as the recent primary elections have shown. Condemnation of his rhetoric by the Republican establishment, be it by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush or Senator Lindsey Graham and others, only seem to have strengthened his frontrunner status, which in turn help explain why many of the party elders have been reluctant to speak out against him as they appear to fear their own voters.
‘Make America Great Again?’
While nothing about this election has so far been predictable, Trump’s electoral victories suggests that he is likely to become the Republican nominee and it cannot be ruled out that he may even win the presidency. Despite whatever grievances Trump’s supporters may have with the political status quo, the state of the economy and America’s tilt towards socialism under President Obama, many analysts believe these voters are delusional about his ability to “Make America Great Again.”
In today’s global environment, American businesses not only face steep international competition in the marketplace, but also from an increasingly assertive and sophisticated middle class emerging across the developing world who are competing for the same jobs and markets as U.S. workers and enterprises. This trend cannot be reversed by Trump’s empty rhetoric and grandiose promises.
Trump’s supporters also seem unable to understand that even if he is elected, his vitriol will eventually catch up with him: governing is not about delivering speeches or politicizing the national discourse, which Obama continues to do, but rather it is about growing the economy by lowering taxes and adjusting the regulatory framework so that businesses can once again invest by employing more people. It is also naive to believe that Trump’s real estate skills automatically translate into the political arena, especially at this given moment in time when the nation is sharply divided between liberals and conservatives each with their own competing sets of facts and narratives. If elected, Trump will from his first day in office be a divisive leader and may very well rely on executive powers in order to accomplish his agenda, which is what conservatives commitment to limited government and free enterprise should fear the most.
Identity Politics And Gerrymandering
These factors are undoubtedly contributing to America’s increasingly polarized discourse, with the added danger of race relations deteriorating further by the dangerous game of identity politics played by Trump’s appeal to white nativist sentiments along with Hilary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders’ outreach to minority voters by politicizing tensions between the police and the African-American community.
Aside from stark philosophical differences over the role of government between Democrats and Republicans, America’s increasingly polarized discourse can largely be attributed to the politics of Gerrymandering, which refers to the process of carving out legislative districts for political advantage. By shaping legislative districts in various ways, officeholders are able to affect which voters they will be responsible to on election day, which in turn help explain how America got divided into mostly Democratic and Republican states. Within each state, Gerrymandering has also been applied to an increasing number of smaller jurisdictions.
The politics of Gerrymandering has an additional disadvantage on the political process: It increasingly helps elected representatives who tend to adhere to ideological purity in order to better fend off primary challengers, as the real elections are often in the primary elections and not in the general, which in turn leaves them with few incentives to find common ground with the opposition.
In order to change the toxic polarized discourse on the national level, Americans must also seek to push for electoral reforms locally. The anger that Trump and Sanders tap into is not only about illegal immigration, stagnant wages and Wall Street, but also about the political class having abandoned average citizens at the expense of “special interests.” As long as redistricting reform is not brought to the table, it will become increasingly difficult, for elected officials to find common ground.
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