America and the world have a lot to fear from a Trump presidency
June 16th 2015 is the day when the US presidential campaign changed for good. The previous day had seen former Florida governor Jeb Bush enter the race after months at the top of the polls as the overwhelming favourite to win the Republican nomination, but less than 24 hours later another announcement knocked Governor Bush out of the headlines, and ultimately out of the race. Donald J Trump launched his campaign in the only way he knew how, descending a golden escalator into the opulent lobby of New York’s Trump Tower before delivering a wild and controversial speech that would be remembered for the entirety of the presidential race.
That isn’t to say that he was taken seriously, and pundits almost unanimously agreed that The Donald was more interested in generating money and publicity than actually winning the White House. Time magazine described the Trump campaign as a ‘near perfect marketing opportunity,’ whilst commentators were quick to write off his chances of even qualifying for the first televised Republican debate. Trump has proven all of his critics wrong, yet they cannot be blamed for having had their doubts about his chances; after all, who could have predicted that the right-wing purists of the Tea Party would have ended up backing a pro-choice, anti-war New York billionaire?
The rise of Donald Trump has been bad news for the Republican Party, and for the first time in living memory the American people do not have a conservative candidate on the presidential ballot. Mr Trump is many things – primarily an isolationist, a protectionist and a nativist – but he is most certainly not a conservative in the mould of any previous Republican President. However, it is not just the American right which has suffered the effects of Trumpism, as The Donald has managed to stain the very nature of US democracy. His rallies have all the totalitarian hallmarks of a religious cult, complete with dramatic music, emotional hysteria and occasional violence, whilst at every step of the campaign Trump has threatened to play hardball if things don’t go his way. In the first Republican debate, he was the only candidate who refused to commit himself to supporting the eventual nominee, and throughout the primaries he threatened to run as a third party candidate if GOP voters rejected him, even going so far as to suggest that there would be ‘riots’ if he wasn’t the nominee.
Trump easily won the Republican nomination, but his assault against the integrity of the democratic system has continued. For weeks he has suggested that the general election will be rigged against him, a statement which implies a lack of confidence in his own chances of winning, and in last night’s third and final presidential debate he refused to commit to accepting the result of the election, throwing open the possibility that he may not concede defeat in the event of a Hillary Clinton victory. The campaign may be drawing to a close, but it is unlikely that Donald Trump is going to bow out gracefully.
By rejecting the peaceful transfer of power that has been at the heart of American presidential politics for centuries, Trump has once again highlighted his staggering unsuitability for public office. Despite recently celebrating his seventieth birthday, he has all the characteristics of a spoiled and petulant child, as displayed in last night’s debate when he constantly interrupted Secretary Clinton, at one point exclaiming ‘such a nasty woman.’ Trump is temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States, and the prospect of him occupying the Oval Office is a serious threat to the security of both America and the rest of the world.
If Trump’s temperament is bad, his policies are even worse, from his proposed ban on all Muslims entering the United States to his promise of a border wall paid for by the Mexican government. The sad truth, however, is that his supporters have lapped up such proposals, no matter how unrealistic or distasteful they might be. Likewise, he has been able to get away with offering very shallow responses to the most serious issues of the day, most notably on the subject of combating ISIS where he has claimed that retaining ‘the element of surprise’ is more important than laying out a comprehensive foreign policy. The truth is that a man who runs beauty pageants, builds casinos and hosts reality TV shows doesn’t have a clue about fighting terrorism, managing the economy or keeping America safe, and it is dangerously naive for anyone to assume otherwise.
Hillary Clinton is far from being the perfect presidential candidate. Her honesty is questionable, her personal life is shady and she has been involved in more scandals than almost any other public figure. Likewise, she is committed to an outdated ideology that no longer works for a significant proportion of Americans, a doctrine of big government crony capitalism that picks winners and losers whilst rewarding the rich and powerful. She may claim to be a ‘progressive that gets things done,’ but in reality she is the candidate of Wall Street over Main Street, of big business over small enterprise. America desperately needs political change, but this is change that Secretary Clinton cannot and will not provide.
Nevertheless, there is a worse alternative to the ideas being offered by Clinton and the Democratic Party, and although her platform does not provide the change America needs it is far superior to the change offered by Mr Trump. At a time when America should be embracing new opportunities for entrepreneurship and promoting start-ups, small businesses and the online economy, Trump seeks to withdraw from the wider world, undermine NAFTA and implement an erratic tax plan. At a time when the world is more dangerous and volatile than ever before, Trump is promoting ignorance and bigotry by scapegoating Muslims and offering a clueless foreign policy. And at a time when conservatives must view the social and demographic changes of the 21st Century as an opportunity rather than a threat, Trump is promoting mass deportations whilst pandering (unconvincingly) to the Religious Right.
Secretary Clinton will not provide the change that America needs. She will do little to empower the individual over the behemoths of big government, big business and big finance, but neither will she undermine the treasured infrastructure of America’s constitutional democracy in the way that Donald Trump would. Over the past sixteen months, The Donald has already shaken the system to its core, riding roughshod over principles which have been upheld by both parties for decades; he cannot be allowed to continue doing so from the presidential bully pulpit. As such, all Americans who love their country and value its status as a shining city on a hill have only one option on November 8th, Republicans and Democrats alike – they must cast their votes for Hillary Clinton.