“The world keeps ending but new people too dumb to know it keep showing up as if the fun’s just started.”
~John Updike, Rabbit is Rich
“This is not something we can ignore…this is not something that we can sweep under the rug…the shameful comments of our bodies…it’s cruel and it’s frightening…and the truth is, it hurts”, no person has articulated the disgust, danger and degradation of one candidate of the United States Presidential Elections more accurately and so succinctly than Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the Nation. A telling indictment of a man who pretends to be the lover of all women, the speech Michele Obama delivered in Manchester, New Hampshire, one of the so-called swing States in the upcoming US elections, has moved many a mind, swayed many a heart and sure to galvanize many a voter. A political oration with an apolitical theme, appealing to the very core of every woman, girl, man, boy.... was indeed a fresh wind in a desert of barren ideas and infertile rhetoric.
Evisceration of the phenomenon called Donald Trump without mentioning his name even once was a masterful craftsmanship on the part of the speech writer who they say is the First Lady herself. America, an allegedly sophisticated democracy, has fallen into the gutters; the defenders of world’s freedom and liberty have been exposed as mortal sinners of the worst kind and gutter-politics has taken over the psyche of the media and punditry of America. By every measure Donald Trump has declared himself unqualified to lead America in the 21st century but his worthiness as a temperamentally fit person to lead a nation that is arguably the sole super power in the world has been bared open. This is where the reasonableness of the American voter counts. With all conventional wisdom and traditional values thrown out the door, Donald Trump is running a campaign of a radical bigot. His bigotry has exceeded the frontiers of the reasonable thinking of reasonable men and women.
Although one might attribute a more than deserving judgment to the latest revelations and indiscretions on the part of the ‘Don’ some years ago, if there is any one single reason for the Republican Party to lose in the upcoming elections is the party itself. The Republican brand has been damaged beyond redemption long year ago. In an increasingly diversified demographic dynamic, the Republican Party, instead of embracing the fast-multiplying numbers of the non-white ethnic groups in the United States of America, by choosing Trump, it has dug itself in a bottomless pit from which any extrication seems impossible. The core of the Republican Party is white; its core economic principles are of anti-social justice genre, its base is fundamentally archaic and appealing to the base instincts of those pilgrims who arrived at the ‘Brave New World’ two and a half centuries ago and with his slogan “Make America Great Again” the Don is essentially making a patently discriminatory political thought process which means ‘Make America White Again’.
Donald Trump is not a product of the great American Dream; on the contrary, he is a reflection of the great American Nightmare, reflecting each and every nasty piece of greedy (b)millionaires who have made enormous profits by circumventing a sophisticated,nuanced tax system and exploiting a gullible galaxy of customers in the country. Whether it be the Trump University, beef steaks, six personal bankruptcies, making nearly a billion dollar loss on casinos in New Jersey city, the bragging that does not stand any intellectual inquiry has inflated his ego to such a nauseating height, he is refusing to step down from that self-made pedestal of inner self-adulation. In the Republican Primaries, he managed to get away with all his pseudo-achievements as a one in a generation. But in the face of genuine tax-paying billionaires such as Warren Buffet and Michael Bloomberg, Trump’s apparent evasion of taxes has made extremely negative impression on the millions of tax-paying working people, it would be an impossible task for him to stand as a spokesman for them. The temporary illusion that he is indulging in now will disappear and the delusional world that was created by the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O’Reillys and Savages and the likes over the last two decades would once again collapse. The rut that Mitt Romney fell into in 2012 is awaiting the Trump bandwagon.
American voter has to be utterly insensitive to the basic decencies of human values to elect a man who questioned the birth place of the first Black President of the United States of America. However, given the massive dislike shown by the American electorate, at least according to the recent polls, towards Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, the so-called pundits of the conservative end of the political spectrum in the United States are hallucinating a Republican-led Executive branch in the coming four years. Predictions in a volatile political market is foolhardy. Predictions belong in the gloomy arena of astrology. Political thinkers however can make a calculated and educated forecast. It is extremely difficult to forecast a Trump victory at the forthcoming Presidential Elections. The fundamentals of political campaigning are against Trump. Unity of the Party that Trump represents, popularity of the incumbent President, the ground game of each Party and clarity of one centrally focused message are all working against Trump and his Party. What will be the real surprise is the collapse of the Republican Party at the Senate and House of Representative levels, the incoming Democratic President might enjoy a majority of both Houses.
America has not fallen to an abyss for the realization of a Trump revolution, neither economically nor socio-politically. The scorched-earth policy adopted by Trump in the final weeks of a campaign is not a sign of a winning candidate. People would be best advised that Hitler too adopted one such last-hour policy. Near the end of World War II, Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz (Gert Froebe) received orders to burn down Paris if it becomes clear the Allies are going to invade, or if he cannot maintain control of the city. Trump’s perpetuation of ‘rigged election-cry’ reminds one of this somewhat similar phrase during the last days of World War ll. Is the proverbial Paris burning? Not yet, and may never will.
One would ask, how is this relevant to the local Sri Lankan scene? Let us relate the story of Donald Trump to the realities of Sri Lankan politics. Trump’s appeal to populism and the ‘forgotten working man’ would naturally remind one of another populist leader of yesteryear - R. Premadasa. One of the greatest stories of Sri Lankan politics is the phenomenon of R. Premadasa. Whatever his policies and execution of those policies and his nasty political philosophy which was more on the strain of Stalinism, were, the rise of a man born in the lowest stratum of society and climbing up to the pinnacle of leadership of his political party and later the country, is a remarkable story by itself. When Premadasa preached policies and principles of populist genre, one would not argue the authenticity of those policies as the messenger of those policies suited the message. This is where Trump fails. He is the last person to pontificate as to how to safeguard the rights of a class of people whose very rights were suppressed and exploited by a cunningly manipulating businessman like Donald Trump.
When Premadasa was elected President of Sri Lanka, he defeated a Kandyan, Govigama, Buddhist aristocrat. When compared to Premadasa, Donald Trump’s story is glaringly deficient in character and perception.Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his tongue, Trump was a warped product of the American Dream that drew its inspiration from those who exploited each and every economic dynamic that went wrong with the free market economy. He greeted the collapse of the housing market; his Trump University was exposed as a scam school that imparted nothing to its students and extracted everything from them including their dignity.
There is no moral or political equivalent to Donald Trump in Sri Lanka. While preaching ‘law and order’, he is not spared by those discerning voters that his ‘law and order’ is without law and only order- a sure signal of an autocratic leader exploiting the gullibility of an unhappy faction of an electorate which is mistaken for the whole. The humbling part of this miserable saga would be the total collapse of a once great political entity, Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party. Unravelling of the ‘Don’ has begun. The tragedy is, with that beginning, a political party which was once held in high esteem by its supporters as well as its antagonists, is going through some irreparable fissures that have begun to appear, caused mainly by the bigoted campaign conducted by Trump and his cohorts. And it would take a long time to heal.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org