Donald Trump is probably the most controversial and hated, US Presidential Candidate, ever. The main reason for this is his manipulation of the politics of fear relating to immigration and to terrorism, alongside his comments on racism and gender also inflame tensions. However, despite all the dogma he espouses, he is actually right about one thing. The US is faltering, it doesn’t “win anymore”. Moreover, there is actually a nice sentiment about his campaign, in that it is representing many in America, the poor working classes, who have been left behind by even the Democrats and the political establishment.
In terms of America, Trump is right to acknowledge the super power’s decline. At present, the US still commands the world’s largest economy, however China will shortly overtake them. Industry has declined as jobs have been shifted to Asia, leaving the infamous ‘rust belt’ appearing in the US. These communities that previously relied on well-paid industrial jobs have been decimated and ignored.
The nation that once led the world in terms of equality, opportunity and liberty is increasingly less so. Income inequality has risen sharply since the financial crisis, America’s social mobility rating has declined as the richer classes still dominate the top professions and colleges. Liberty has been curtailed in the name of terrorist prevention as was revealed that the NSA has insurmountable access to the private lives of American citizens.
Many people in America feel that the economy doesn’t work for them. Of course, this isn’t an isolated incident. In Britain, many of those who felt excluded from the political establishment voted for UKIP at the last election, and were right to do so. The Conservative Party had lost touch on the issues of Europe and immigration and so didn’t represent a large part of their voter base. The Labour Party look set to make the same mistake as they are disconnected to their more right wing northern voters.
The Democrats under Obama have delivered jobs and recovery, but they have failed to challenge the social inequalities that plague the country. Obama’s campaign in 2008 promised real change in the height of the economic collapse, a new America with new opportunities for ordinary citizens. This hasn’t been delivered, so it’s no surprise to see such Anti-establishment candidates such as Trump and Sanders appearing at the forefront of American Politics.
Trump is providing a voice to those who are not represented. Now, there is a fine line here. It isn’t acceptable to campaign on a racist, sexist or homophobic platform. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable for communities to be fearful about the impact of terrorism in light of recent attacks in Europe, and dissenting at the state of a broken immigration system.
When the UK was the ‘sick man of Europe’ Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister because she promised real change. There was an overwhelming dissent within the country at the status quo and the power of the elites, the Trade Unions at the time. She changed the landscape of the country and provided a platform for Britain to cease it’s post-colonial decline and reinvent herself.
Perhaps in that sense, Trump is much the same. He promises, deplorable at times or not, real change and a complete shake up of the political system. Hilary Clinton is very much the establishment candidate.
One only wishes that the representation that Trump provides for American’s ignored could come through a different and more tolerant medium. However, the Democrats appear unable to tackle the real change. I’m not endorsing Trump for President. I still think that his attitudes towards race and homosexuality could be deeply damaging to the progress America has made on these issues.
However, the US political system does need a change and these citizens must be heard. For too long, the political system has been dominated by the elites and the establishment. The people are slowly rebelling. Last month’s Brexit vote despite all the advice of the establishment was the first sign. It is still unlikely that he will win, but a Trump Presidency could be another rebellion. It will depend on how much he is capable of tapping into the discontent much of America feels, and whether they as an electorate feel he is worth all of his faults.
Anything could happen.