One of the front runners for republican nomination for next year's presidential elections Mr. Donald Trump is creating lot of media waves all over the world since he entered in this election foray. Somehow he manages to grab headlines in print or electronic media because of his statements. Many of his statements have generated very polarized responses with some praising him for calling spade a spade (hinting that he is telling the truth even though he might sound politically incorrect) and some criticizing him for spreading hatred and negativity about certain sections of society (an outright racist or misogynist, etc.). But to everyone's surprise so far he managed to stay in news and also if polls are to be believed he is still one of the front runners to grab the republican presidential nomination. Many people are surprised by his high popularity as well as amount of support his statements are receiving. He is considered as an outsider in politics but definitely for all republican politicians out there he is giving run for their money. To some, this 'outsider' tag might seem like a big drawback, especially when you are planning to run for topmost political post of country but this guy has managed to turn this as his advantage by diffusing all attacks which question his political inexperience. I am not at all his supporter or for that matter any party supporter but I have a deep interest in politics and as a independent observer like to study various aspects of it, and there is no doubt that Mr. Donald Trump is one of the very interesting aspect of this US presidential race.
I live in Connecticut, which is considered as a loyal democrat state, that's why I was really surprised to hear when an old lady who was very devoted democrat supporter for many years said that may be this time she will vote for Mr. Trump if he gets the nomination. It is worthwhile to note that she didn't say that she will vote for some republican candidate but she specifically mentioned Mr. Trump. I guess the main reason behind this is people's frustration with politicians from both the parties, election after election they witnessed every presidential candidate making huge promises during their campaigns, they all promise to bring change and at the end nothing much changes on the ground. So it seems that people are increasingly getting frustrated with inability of seasoned politicians to deliver on their election promises. They are loosing their faith in them, for all those people Mr. Trump is like breeze of fresh air, someone who may not lie and cheat just to win an election. To add to this confidence Mr. Trump already declared that he is not going to take any money for his campaign from so called BIG donors who then try to influence the government. This is very well known fact, termed as 'lobbying'. The donations which these corporations make to various candidates from both major parties is sort of investment on their part to protect their own interests and it doesn't matter which candidate wins these corporate houses make sure to keep their goodwill with both major parties. There is nothing illegal or wrong in this practice as it is allowed by law and everything is declared for everyone to see, so one should not blame these corporations for this as system allows them to do this. They are just using legal way to protect their business interests, it is duty of politicians to make sure that they stay on their course and protect people's interest first. Mr. Trump's controversial statements about illegal immigrants or about Syrian refugees or Muslim immigrants are very insensitive and controversial but I think he know that people will relate with his statements as most politicians don't even dare to address many of these problems because they are very sensitive. Many of seasoned politicians don't want to touch some of these topics because they don't want to get into trouble, they don't want to hurt their vote bank, and because of this attitude many of them just refuse to accept that these problems even exist. This is very wrong, those problems or concerns are there and people need some answers. Why can't democrats explain that if you legalize current illegal immigrants then how it doesn't mean that you are actually encouraging more illegal immigration? Just because people who broke the immigration law are in millions, is it OK to pardon their illegal act? Suppose if government does that today then what is the guarantee that after 10 or 20 years country will not be facing similar situation, and then what to do? Issue another legal pardon and legalize all peaceful illegal immigrants? What is the process followed to make sure that all refugees entering US need genuine help? The point I am trying to raise here is, people have many questions like these and politicians or political parties who are willing to legalize illegal immigrants or want to take more refugees are not able to explain properly why they want to do that. They some how are not able to explain the logic and rational behind their decision clearly. This creates confusion and builds resent. Any opposition to these issues can not be dismissed just based on partisan politics. This should not be projected as democrat vs republican battle. Mr. Trump is not even seasoned republican guy still he is getting so much support, we need to ask, why??
I think one major reason being Mr. Trump's popularity is that there was apparent disconnect between republican voters and politicians, and Mr. Trump is trying to bridge that gap. His ability to say some things which any traditional politician won't even dream of saying it on public platform is paying him some dividends. We all know that many times in politics political parties try to make use of same issues in every election. Actually many political parties are interested in keeping many issues alive because those issues generate votes for them in every election, I have seen it happening in India for decades, in US situation is much better compared to India but these things happen here also. I guess people think that Mr. Trump can challenge this and change this, whether he will get elected or do it, or not is different issue but at least he is projecting himself as 'no nonsense' person and many people are buying that. Many of his controversial statements are highly flawed and clearly inflammatory. They are clearly targeted to make use of feeling of uneasiness in people's mind. I guess he is willing to take the risk and he thinks that rewards are high if it works in his favor. I am sure he also knows that it can backfire on him but then if he is also like rest of politicians then why the heck people should chose him? He wants to set him apart from the rest and I guess so far his strategy seems to be working. Pressure and obligation to be politically correct all the time has made many politicians very defensive, they hesitate to attack any problem aggressively because of fear that it might disturb their core constituency. Fear of being sidelined or hammered by witch hunters in press and public who are just looking for one loose statement to finish someone's political career is very real and huge among all public figures. Mr. Trump seem to be immune of this fear and it seems many people are appreciating this.
One can agree or disagree with Mr. Trump's statement or even dismiss him as publicity hungry business man or call him insignificant candidate who is not going to make it to finish line of presidential candidacy but there is no doubt that this man has created lot of waves in political arena. If it is good or bad only time will tell, but I think people should ponder over the fact that why is he getting so much support? May be it will help us understanding many issues which are stuck in deadly partisan politics in such a way that it seems they can not be resolved no matter how long both parties try. But there is no doubt that this is dangerous path to achieve power, this is not sustainable approach. You can not create rift in society and then expect peace and unity. Very similar thing happened in India last year. Current Indian prime minister Mr. Modi made use of huge vacuum created by indecisive leadership and inability of politicians to address some real problems like corruption, black money, poor infrastructure, communal tension, etc. He rose the charts of popularity index day by day by making many statements and promises which seasoned politicians in India hesitate to make. He said whatever people wanted to hear, whether it was about taking on Pakistan or China or about black money or so called pink revolution or about dynastic rule. He used all rhetoric and theatrics, never apologized for any of his mistakes or never minced his words while attacking someone and it all worked in his favor. Voters of India saw a ray of hope in him and gave him an unprecedented mandate, but since coming into power he is struggling to clear his image as divisive leader. He is finding it hard to rein in some elements of his own party who totally believe that its OK to make inflammatory statements if it suits them without worrying much about its consequences. Almost a year and half has passed but current government is still finding it very hard to pass some key reform bills in parliament in spite of having clear majority as opposition is just refusing to cooperate. It seems it is easy to win elections by polarizing the society but then it is not easy to neutralize that polarization when you want to run the country. While filling the vacuum created by indecisive political leadership Mr. Trump is setting up same dangerous precedence in US which Mr. Modi did in India. Their intentions might be good, they might be sincerely trying to do something good for their country, we should give both these leaders a benefit of doubt but then the method they are using has some serious side effects which no one can ignore. Today he is targeting Muslims, what if tomorrow he says same thing about Hindus or Africans? What is guarantee that his supporters won't target other minority immigrants who according to them are taking up american's jobs? Polarized or divided society can go in any direction, it is very difficult to predict. Purposely cultivated hatred can manifest in several ways, it is very dangerous to play with this fire. Divide and rule is the best strategy if you just want to rule any society without having any concern about its welfare, many rulers used this trick very successfully in past successfully to exploit some regions for their own benefit. Those societies are still grappling with problems like lack of trust and communal tension. It is very tempting strategy as it seems to provide immediate short term gains, many political parties and leaders still use this in India. Is Mr. Trump want to see similar situation in US? We can find faults with other methods and ways used by other politicians or political parties, policies like minority or majority appeasement are also not good but clear agenda of divisiveness or hatred is the most dangerous among all. So I hope people try to understand what's really going on, I hope even Mr. Trump will realize that he don't need to make such divisive statements to stay in limelight or ahead in polls, after all no election win should be more important than unity and prosperity of nation. Please note one thing here, I am not at all objecting to right of Mr. Trump to say those things, he has complete freedom to say those things and others can criticize him for that as much as they want. I am just trying to discuss merits and demerits of his approach. I hope each one of us understands this and think over these things logically, no matter in which country we reside, which party or person we support.
Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.
[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]