Campaign 2016: What Should We Make of Donald Trump?|
The 2016 US Presidential campaign is in full swing and it has been
anything but dull. The front-runners are totally unconventional. One
is a woman and the other a businessman who has never held a political
office. Constantly, people are asking me: what do you think of Donald
Good question, and for the longest time I did not have an answer.
Having watched American politics all my life, never have I seen a
campaign like this one. Yet, as one committed to helping people become
‘future-ready,’ it is important to address the issue: What should we
make of Donald Trump?
Background: Donald Trump, a businessman and TV personality, was
born on June 14, 1946, which means he will be 70 years old at the time
of the November 2016 election. Ronald Reagan was 69 when he was
elected and inaugurated as President.
Trump Candidacy: The day after his 69th birthday, he announced his
candidacy for the Republican Party nomination for the office of United
States President. His slogan: Making America Great Again! He promised
to fund his own campaign and eschewed donations for big donors and
super PACs (political action committees). This meant, among other
things, that he would be free to say whatever he wanted.
Trump’s statements have been brash, controversial and politically
incorrect. He said that he would build a wall at the Mexican border
and have Mexico pay for it. After the IS attacked Paris in November
2015, he proposed a temporary ban on Muslim immigration ‘until we
figure out what’s going on?’ These and other statements have offended
much of the public, other political candidates, and even some of his
business partners, who have subsequently severed commercial ties. Some
of his rallies have been marked by protests and violence. The
mainstream media have scratched their heads on what to do with him.
One highly left-wing news source announced that they were removing
Trump’s campaign from the ‘political’ section to the ‘entertainment’
The Trump campaign entertaining? Well, despite all the negatives
mentioned above, he has consistently polled higher than his Republican
rivals. He has won state-after-state primaries and is getting closer
to clinching the Republican Party nomination. Until now, every attempt
to stop his candidacy has met with failure.
Why is Trump doing so well? His populist politically incorrect
rhetoric resonates with many people because he comes across as honest,
rather than wooden and insincere. His ‘non-establishment’ credentials
also impress a volatile electorate, who feel regular politicians are
not listening to them. His speeches and blunt statements give him much
‘free’ publicity from the mainstream media, even though they do not
like his views.
What are we to make of the candidacy of this very rich,
non-political, intelligent man who seems to be steamrolling his way to
the Republican nomination? Here is some food for thought:
Conservative Challenge: People who hold to traditional or Biblical
(rather than progressivist) values will be troubled by Trump - he has
been thrice married, does business with casinos, and has praised the
abortion-giant Planned Parenthood. Though he implies he is
conservative, he has not always been that way in practice. Has he had
a ‘Damascus Road-Experience’ to a socially conservative position or is
his conservatism tactical for more votes?
Conservatives Divided: Christian commentators like Messianic
scholar Dr. Michael Brown in the USA and Australia’s own culture
warrior Bill Muehlenberg are highly critical of Trump. Yet, some US
conservatives like Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican Vice-Presidential
nominee and former governor of Alaska, have endorsed him.
One interesting endorsement comes from 91 year old Phyllis
Schlafly, a Roman Catholic constitutional lawyer, conservative
activist, and founder of the Eagle Forum. She was the woman who
prevented the ratification the feminist-inspired Equal Rights
Constitutional Amendment (ERA) in 1972. She is an American
conservative icon and legend. Schlafly totally supports Trump and says
he is America’s last hope. The reason: He is not beholden to the
political kingmaker’s and will strongly deal with illegal immigration.
If we don’t stop this wave of illegal migration, America as we know it
will cease to exist, concludes Schlafly.
Big gamble: A Trump nomination is a big gamble for the
Republicans. His approval rating may be high among Republican primary
voters but his disapproval rating among the general public is also
high. He will be opposed by non-white migrants, feminists, and the
mainstream media. His likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, has a
well-financed campaign, universal name recognition, and has applied
the lessons from her failed 2008 campaign (Mrs. Clinton has unique
challenges of her own, including low ‘trustworthy’ ratings and an FBI
investigation of her emails while Secretary of State). Can Trump win?
It is possible but it will be tough.
Volatility: Americans, especially conservatives are volatile. They
are tired of broken-promises, of pseudo-conservative politicians, of
political correctness and empty rhetoric. Perhaps because Trump is
successful at business, a straight shooter, and smart in-general, he
is viewed as someone who can get the job done.
The choice: barring some major event, it looks like it will be a
vote between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. American’s will need to
decide if they want, after a 16 year hiatus, to have the Clintons back
in the White House or the fresh-face of a very determined Donald