It is an inexplicable irony that New York-based billionaire businessman Donald Trump is winning the Republican race even as the party hierarchy is up in arms against his push to become the next President of the United States, a country that believes that setting the world agenda is its exclusive business and none should have a share in the process.
With each passing day, Trump takes a leap to the unassailable position, increasing the party hierarchy’s fear of being forced to endorse the candidacy of the maverick mogul known for his crude and provocative remarks on building a wall to prevent illegal immigration, denying entry to Muslims, the size of his genitals and menstruating women.
Trump is confident of winning next Tuesday’s Florida primary. Yes, next Tuesday is crucial. If Trump wins Florida, the home state of rival contender Marco Rubio, and Governor John Kasich’s home state of Ohio, which is, like Florida, a winner-takes-all state, he will be assured of the 1,237 delegates needed for nomination at the Republican Convention from July 18-21. It will deal a knockout blow to all other contenders fighting for the Republican Party’s nomination for the race to the White House. If Trump wins Florida and Ohio next Tuesday, it will be a contest between Trump and the Republican establishment’s favourite, Ted Cruz.
The closer he gets to the target, the harsher the campaign within his own party to discredit him. But the one-time reality show star appears unstoppable, with some analysts already predicting that the final battle will be between Trump and Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.
In what is seen as a desperate bid to slide-tackle Trump as he sprints to the winning tape, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, fired a salvo ahead of this Tuesday’s crucial primaries in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii.
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Madison, Mississippi. Reuters.
Romney, playing the party’s elder statesman’s role, warned of doom if Trump was elected. “If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession,” he said during a visit to the University of Utah. “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished…. His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.”
Romney is not the first Republican leader to slam Trump as a demagogic lunatic or wild card upstart who has no business being the party’s candidate, let alone being President of the country. Besides Romney, all previous Republican presidential nominees who are among the living -- George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain – have distanced themselves from Trump and see his candidacy as appalling. In addition, more than 100 members of the Grand Old Party’s national security community signed an open letter threatening that if Trump was elected they would vote for Hillary Clinton who they believe appears a lesser evil by a large margin.
The Republican hierarchy and a section of Corporate America believe Trump is not marketable and will come a cropper when arrayed against a powerful Democratic Party contender like Hillary Clinton. The thought of the presidency going to the Democrats for four more years, after eight years of the Obama presidency, is simply unacceptable.
How to stop Trump was also a topic at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum, a secretive affair, held recently on Sea Island, Georgia. Taking part in the forum were top executives of Corporate America and some leading neoconservative leaders of the infamous Bush era. Yes, the neocons are in the forefront of the anti-Trump campaign. As this Tuesday’s resounding Trump triumphs at Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii show, the more invective the Republican leadership hurls at Trump, the stronger he emerges. Whatever the attacks, be they from the Republican leadership, Corporate America or Corporate Media, the grassroots Republicans, the plebs – mostly the white Americans and evangelists -- are with Trump. Also backing him are the Ku Klux Klan and likeminded racists. He symbolises their hope for a prosperous America; he emerges as a man who can deliver jobs. The choice of Trump appears as a reaction to their frustration with seasoned politicians who fail to fulfill their promises.
It was keeping this segment of society in mind that Trump in December last year during a Republican debate advocated a life-for-a-life policy or killing the entire family of a terrorist if he kills Americans. In post-9/11 America, such rants win standing applause. Trump being a businessman knows how to package his products. In a way, Trump’s outlandish remarks are marketing gimmicks aimed at media coverage. He does not spend much on campaign advertisements. He takes maximum advantage through free media for his campaign titled ‘Make America Great Again’.
So why this Trumpophobia? It appears that the fear of Trump stems from his policy statements, which are not palatable to the system which includes Corporate America, the neocons, the hawks, the Israeli lobby and the arms industry that invests in bloodletting in the Middle East.
Despite his beastly remarks such as “water-boarding the animals of the Middle East”, Trump is anti-war. He opposes US military involvement in places like Iraq and Syria. He calls the Iraq war a historic blunder. Although he calls himself an Israeli supporter – a declaration which is regarded as an unwritten requirement for nomination – Trump says he will be a “neutral” honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians in peace negotiations, as Jimmy Carter had been.
He also says he will “get along very well” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Richard Nixon got along with the then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and Chinese leader Mao Zedong -- and will not oppose Russia’s war on ISIS.
Though most Americans agree with Trump’s policies, we must not forget that it is the system that runs the United States. The Republican leadership, of course, knows this. If it is the President who really sets the agenda, President Obama would have solved the Palestinian problem, closed the Guantanamo Bay gulag prison, and stayed out of wars on Libya and Syria. However idealistic a President is, there is a limit to what he or she can do. In the past, those who tried to overstep the limit had to pay a heavy price. President John F Kennedy paid with his life, while Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton faced impeachments processes. So why worry about Trump? Already he is sending out signals to the system that he will be obedient and there’s no need to entertain fear. In off-the-record remarks to a newspaper, he is alleged to have said that he would not build the wall.
But the Republican leadership is unconvinced because Donald Trump is unpredictable.