M D Nalapat
HALF of the population of the United States detests President Trump while almost the same number adores him. The 45th President of the US is unusually honest for a politician, making no secret of his views, no matter how unpleasant these may be to more than a few. During the 2016 campaign, he repeatedly said that he liked people who had little or no education, as such people would be inclined to vote for him rather than for his opponent. Indeed, the more educated the person, the less likely he is likely to be a supporter of Donald J Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton termed supporters of Trump as “Deplorables”. Her irrepressible opponent seized on the term and began to call himself and his supporters as “deplorables”, revving up their common hatred of Hillary Clinton. For more than six months, the Clinton campaign had silently but energetically sought to boost Trump against his Republican Party opponents, in the belief that he was the easiest Republican nominee to defeat in the polls.
To the dismay of the Clinton machine, Trump turned out to be a formidable opponent, landing several punches to everyone that he received, and connecting with the imagination of tens of millions of voters. Hillary Clinton made the mistake of underestimating Trump, and as several of those who have done business with him in the past can testify, this is a bad mistake. It was not only his father Fred’s wealth but an innate shrewdness and bulldog determination that earned Donald J Trump his 4-year stay in the White House, and which may assure him another four years, if the US economy continues to do better than expected, and the Democratic Party (still influenced if no longer dominated by the Clinton machine) chooses a cautious and “safe” candidate such as Joe Biden over a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren. While he was at his peak during the 2015 struggle for securing the Democratic Party nomination for the presidential contest, during this round, Senator Bernie Sanders seems to have lost some of his appeal, possibly because of the manner in which he joined Barrack Obama in behaving like a cheerleader for the Clintons during much of 2016.
The way in which Bernie Sanders raised the white flag of surrender to Hillary Clinton even after he was cheated of the nomination by a series of dirty tricks by the Clinton-controlled Democratic Party machine, his supporters got dismayed and began to believe that much of his aggression was in words rather than in action. Sanders thought that his forgiving stance would ensure that the “lesser evil” (Hillary Clinton) prevailed over the “greater evil” (Donald Trump). Instead, by strengthening the impression that the Democratic Party was in the pocket of the Clinton machine, Sanders paved the way for Trump to win.
Rather than lead the 2020 field as a candidate of his qualities ought to have, Sanders is behind Joe Biden, the candidate of the Clinton machine, in the opinion polls, and is only a bit ahead of Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose record in fighting the Billionaire Club is as impressive as that of Sanders himself. Another impressive Democratic Party candidate independent of the Billionaire Club is Senator Kamala Harris, who needs to race ahead of the rest of the field during the coming two months if she is to emerge as the presidential or (more likely) the vice-presidential candidate for her party in the 2020 polls. Donald Trump, of course, is a billionaire himself, who makes no secret of his view that billionaires make the best Presidents and Cabinet members, a stance that seems to have resonated with tens of millions of underprivileged voters with European ethnicity who seem to admire billionaires and revel in their being the rulers, despite this small club of hyper-rich individuals ensuring government policies which benefit them at the expense of the rest of the population.
Trump is loyal to the Billionaires Club, which is why he has become a megaphone for the message the latter seek to blare out to the people of the US. This is that the problems being faced by tens of millions of US citizens have been caused not by the predatory greed of the hyper-rich, but by the waves of impoverished Mexicans and other Central Americans trying to enter the US without a visa. Most are family units, often with very young children. What they seek is a job that would enable them to send money to those back home who are destitute. However, the Billionaires Club is relentlessly using the media to portray such intending migrants as a bagful of criminals whose primary purpose is loot, murder and rapine. The hundred million or so US citizens who believe such a nonsensical claim thereby get separated from the fact that toxic policies put in place by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush, policies that were only tinkered with and not discarded by Barrack Obama, are what is responsible for the stagnation in incomes of the middle classes and continuing poverty on a scale that is impossible to conceal.
In the capital of the US, pavements of filling up with desperate individuals holding up plastic cups for passers-by to fling a few coins in. More and more of such unfortunates are of European rather than African ethnicity, hence the utility to the Billionaires Club of having a US President who manages to direct public anger at economic woes away from the Billionaire Club to hundreds of thousands of destitute migrants from south of the US, with a few even coming from North Africa and South Asia. President Trump has diverted public anger away from folks like him, the hyper-rich, which is why the Republican National Committee is getting so much more in donations than the Democratic National Committee. Judging by the confusion over policy and personalities in the Democratic Party, the odds are rising that Trump will secure a second term on November 8, 2020. Should that occur, and should Trump continue with Clinton-Bush policies that give a disproportionate quantum of advantage to the Billionaire Club, his second term is likely to be a stormy one, not so much in the US Congress but on the streets.
The substantive divide within the US is not between “white” and “black” or “coloured” US citizens but between the hyper-rich and the next. Despite efforts by the Billionaires Club to ensure that public fury remains diverted from them to the human tragedy at the southern border of the US, a time of reckoning in the shape of an administration that does not just talk about the poor (as Obama did) but which actually does something for the poor (as Franklin D Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson did) will dawn, if not in 2020, then latest by 2024.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.