Carl Sacklen

It's Time to Trump Trump

Jeb is gone; Christie is done; Carson has faded. What did all these GOP (Republican) candidates have in common? They weren’t exciting enough. In this race, an important characteristic has been what Trump calls “energy”. The candidates will come across as extreme in some cases, even to the point of maybe being banned from the UK, but this is what the Republican electorate wants and what Trump, and to some extent Cruz, deliver.

The reason Trump is so far ahead in the GOP race is because of this concept of “energy”, or in other words, his anti-establishment undertone that has the Republican Party quivering. If Trump maintains his position in the race, which is most likely, then he will win the Republican nomination. This is when he truly becomes dangerous. Once he has appealed to the white, blue-collar electorate unhappy with the establishment’s “Washington” candidates, he can shift wherever he wants to on the Republican spectrum. It is most likely that he will move left to pick up the many Republican voters previously alienated by the extreme policies suggested by candidates, whilst also collecting some right-wing Democrats on the way.

The moderates in this race have flopped. The debates have become theatre and Trump, a reality show star, has flourished in this environment. More like a boxing ring — something Trump is also all too familiar with — the candidates have thrown punches at each other from their podiums, much to the appeal of the Tea Party faction of the GOP electorate, with Trump almost always coming out with the fewest bruises. His artful dodging of questions is frustrating yet intriguing, rude yet hilarious, and dumb yet so intelligent. A mistake that Clinton cannot afford to make, assuming she gets the Democrat nomination, is to believe that Trump is as vacuous, imbecilic and moronic as he presents himself.

Trump is a populist who, if and when he gets the nomination, will be able to pick up voters he wants from every corner of the electorate. He is not part of the Republican establishment, so doesn’t need to conform to them. As a populist he preys on people’s dissatisfaction with the current social state and uses those dissatisfied voters to rise up. Once he has risen up however, just like any populist, the utopian promises that he presented cannot be upheld. His unpredictability in the coming months is what will make Trump so terrifying.

The question is whether Clinton will be tough enough to stand up to Trump in the presidential race, as there are several things that she can be attacked on. She has backtracked on several issues central to the Democrat campaign. With Sanders stealing a large chunk of the voters, she had to shift to the left and present herself as a more credible candidate for liberal voters. In doing so however, her stance on key issues, and how they have changed, came into the spotlight. LGBT rights for instance, is a matter on which Clinton has only recently in 2013 taken a more liberal stance on which has led to accusations that she is flip-flopping. Then there’s the controversy surrounding her use of her private email rather than her Secretary of State email that suggests she is untrustworthy.

Whilst you can say that Clinton can attack Trump on issues that he too has not been clear on, like globalisation, he has proven to be a lot more skilled at bullying his way into answering the questions he wanted to be asked in the first place. It is also important to bear in mind that this is a race where much of the electorate, right-wing or left-wing, is angry at the establishment. Clinton, with her wealth, impressive CV, and her husband, personifies this establishment.

If Hillary Clinton cannot do more than what she is currently doing, then we have a serious problem because Trump will come at her like one of his real-estate bulldozers and flatten any chance of a Democratic government after the next election. He will be able to sweep across the political spectrum and pick up anyone from the right-wing Democrats to the die-hard conservative Republicans and waltz into the Oval Office. Of course, in moving left on certain issues he will alienate some of his passionate support base, but in doing so he will pick up so many of the Republicans, and to some extent Democrats, who feel estranged by the current set of candidates. Trump, unlike fellow populist Bernie Sanders, is not a man motivated by an ideology; rather he is propelled by the never-ending hunt for more power, and where better than the Oval Office?