DONALD Trump has clearly defied all predictions and has emerged victorious by capturing the Republican Presidential nomination. Celebrating 1238 number of delegates, with a Big Mac on his private jet is a picture worth thousand words. What started as a joke has now culminated into a serious political victory. The reality TV show host, married to a super model with a shallow background in serving any sort of public office has taken over the face of republicans and would contest the ballot in November.
Trump’s nomination has changed the face of America’s leading political party, and has put a question mark on the legacy of the Republicans. Trump’s nomination happened in the background of a great divide amongst the republican elite, as many were not ready to endorse him as the Presidential candidate. Paul Rayan, the House speaker clearly showed his reservations regarding Trump, and considered his nomination a blowback to the esteem and principles of the Republican Party. The Republicans had planned a restoration of their power in 2016, but instead the party became a victim of internal rift.
Trump’s victory shows a divide between the top leadership and their grass root support. Also it is a reflection that democracy can be unpredictable. Trump’s nomination can be captured in the dictum “Tyranny of majority”. More so, the stable American Two party system is also under question, as it seems that perhaps the entry into White house isn’t a matter of qualification but of having an adequate financial support. This new trend in American politics is a dangerous one. Trump, perhaps is the only nominee that has no background in any public service. Every US President up till now, from Washington to Obama had some affiliation with public offices and affairs. The Republican’s support to a reality TV show host is a dangerous precedent for the credibility of the party image.
More so, it also shows a reflection of a section of American Society that endorses misogyny and extreme viewpoints. Trump’s campaign is centered on blind nationalism that has found appeal with the Republican voter’s base. Although Trump differentiates with the orthodox Republican leadership, but GOP itself sowed the seeds of such attitudes and ideas.
Trump was just able to tap on the resentment of such voters, who over the time have been frustrated with the cost of America’s moralistic commitments abroad. These angry white Americans immediately resonated with Trump, and gained their interest in politics with his mass appeal. Even if one tends to disagree with Trump, one certainly cannot ignore him. The media has given him the most air time as compared to any other candidate. Trump’s nationalistic call, rings with a section of America that is tired of the burdens and involvements of America abroad. “America’s First”, Trumps foreign policy slogan embraces isolationism. In contrast, Republicans are known for their military involvements and muscular foreign policy. They consider America’s role as a world police man, and believe in regime change in the name of Moralism. America fighting the bad guys is a concurrent theme in the Republican’s party politics.
Trump doesn’t uphold such traditions. He doesn’t concern himself with the international society, justice, or tyranny in the world. He has rounded his campaign with his business acumen, and suggests that America must fulfill its self interest otherwise it would be a broken venture. The narrative of America as the beacon of hope is clearly absent from Trump’s ideas. In 1980s the GOP was reoriented, and Reagan’s ideas won a massive appeal. Parties’ definitive principles were set in three ideas prompted by Reagan: Social conservatism, fiscal restraint and muscular internationalism. These classic ideas shaped much of the conservative politics of Republicans. Trump’s triumph is considered to be a death of Reagan’s ideals. It is no longer the party of Reagan.
It is important to compare some of its policies with that of Republican way of doing things: Trump has adopted a very hard stance on immigration policies, while conservative Republicans favour soft immigration policies to gain business support. In terms of international trade, Republicans are against trade wars and support free trade agreements, Trump on the other hand consider relations with countries as business ventures, and support competition. The biggest difference is his stance on foreign policy: Trump isn’t concerned with what is happening inside other countries instead he puts America at first. If supposedly Trump becomes the President, it would further test the already unpredictable relation between Pakistan and America.
The question now is that can GOP be united under Trump; this puts a huge question mark on the credibility of Republican Party. Also it shows a leadership crisis within the Republican Party, the candidates that Trump defeated were also incoherent in their ideas and policy campaigns. Whether it was Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubino, both lacked the mass appeal, and centred their campaigns on old slogans. This power space was created from within the party that enabled Trump to come forward.
Perhaps, this is America…unpredictable and funny, swayed by a theatrical show man. The November 2016 general election would be the most interesting to follow, and if Trump wins the world perhaps would see a new trend in international politics, or if nothing the American President would provide the world with considerable entertainment.
— The writer is currently pursuing MPhil in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Also is teaching Sociology to A-Levels at Roots IVY International School.