So of course this man needs no introduction. But for those of you who do, you may (or may not if you’ve been living under a stone) know that Donald Trump, the American billionaire business mogul, is running for the White House this year. Yes, that is the dilemma (or blessing) the United States faces this year in the coming months. The President in his final months of his second term becomes increasingly irrelevant as the attention turns to who is going to succeed him. Love it or hate it, we will hear the name Trump a lot more than we want to over the next few months.
So what do we know about what Trump’s Presidency will look like? Well to be honest we don’t know – he doesn’t say much other than bashing his opponents, Great Walls funded by foreign governments and abolishing Obama’s agenda on Day 1. From this there are some quite significant consequences already.
Let’s start with his consistent bashing of the other Republican candidates. In particular he has fun bashing Ted Cruz for apparently being Canadian, with a lot of excellent lawyers disputing his constitutional eligibility for President. Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5 of the US Constitution reads: “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” Trump has so far refrained from touching on the issue of a Vice-President (obviously when he hasn’t won the nomination) but Ted Cruz has been a Senator since 2013. Discrediting and irking the Republican establishment has been quite disastrous for President Obama, and I’m sure they’d have no less sympathy for a man like Trump with no political experience. This extends onto the next man in Trump’s sights; Jeb Bush, brother and son of ex-Presidents. The Bush family hold massive prestige within the Republican Party and Trump is particularly sceptical of Bush’s perceived “weakness”. Bush’s (relatively) liberal view on immigration has pushed Trump over the top, which leads to the next point.
Trump loves bashing illegal immigration, and minorities in general. So much so he claims he will deport all 11 million illegal immigrants in America. Good luck with that Batman. This would not only be logistically difficult and extortionately expensive, but actually physically tracking down 11 million undocumented people in a country the size of the United States would be much too difficult. In particular, the Hispanic community have come in for criticism for being rapists and murderers. A report by The Economist in July came to the conclusion that crime rates in America have fallen over the last 30 years despite the number of foreign nationals and illegal immigrants increasing. And El Paso, TX, the city just across the border from the infamous crime-ridden Mexican city Juarez, has the lowest murder rate of any American city with 500,000 or more inhabitants.
Unfortunately, the bashing doesn’t stop there. Trump has reserved his most scathing criticism for Muslims. In response to the threat of Islamic extremism, Trump has proposed a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the USA and the increased monitoring of Muslims within the country, with proposals alarmingly similar to those practiced by Nazi Germany against the Jewish population with the identification labels. This has already created instances where Muslims have been stopped from entering the USA, amidst fears the ‘Trump factor’ is already in action. Trump’s calls have been dismissed as wrong and counterproductive by world leaders, including David Cameron. Such a move would be counterproductive – yes, it would largely eradicate the threat of Islamic extremists and potential terrorists from entering the country. What it would do, however, is with the monitoring plans alienate the Muslim population already within America. Academics conclude there are no obvious causes of radicalisation – it is not simply about social exclusion. What can be said, however, is that from a humanist and human rights point of view, such proposals are clamping down on the civil liberties of Muslims within America. Others will conclude that national security is more important than civil liberties, but such a blanket policy on an entire religion as opposed to using the United States’ expansive secret security agencies such as the FBI or CIA makes a mockery of the tools at their disposal.
So who will pay for these policies? Trump has claimed the Mexican government will pay for the Wall to be constructed on the border. While there would be logic in this for the Mexicans – the increasing violence and gang mentality in Mexico is fuelled by the illegal drug trade to the United States – it would actually be counterproductive to the USA. The USA already spends $3.7 billion a year on border defences yet illegal immigrants are still entering the country. The USA-Mexico border is 1,953 miles long; building a fence similar in height to the Berlin Wall (3.60m) would take quite a long time (the Berlin Wall took only a few days, but the United States would be dipping significantly into the Treasury to build the Wall quickly).
The other concrete thing we know about Trump is that he hates Obama (and every other Republican candidate in the race). Trump despises Obama – he has said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act (affectionately known as Obamacare) on Day 1 in the White House. Now this is problematic – he claims he wants “healthcare for everyone but not Obamacare”. So Mr. Trump, do you have an alternative universal healthcare plan? It’s all well and good being opposed to something so controversial, but without a contingency plan repealing Obamacare would be a rash and dangerous move which would create millions of again uninsured Americans. As for the landmark Iranian nuclear deal and latest sanctions placed on the USA, Trump says he would rip up such an agreement quickly too.
A Trump Presidency would inevitably have the United States forcibly exerting their presence worldwide again. Not only is this dangerous with the increasing volatility in the Middle East, it would again be horrendously expensive with the bill footed by the US taxpayers. The Iraqi and Afghan wars cost the USA around $4-6 trillion, and the primary intention of both wars were failed – in Iraq, democracy has not been restored; in Afghanistan, the Taliban again threaten to take over the country. What has ensued has been chaos and anarchy exploited by the so-called Islamic State and their barbarous ideology. Future intervention by the USA should not be hasty and should instead be considered after diplomacy has failed. There is no need to bring up the consequences of the ill-thought-out Libyan intervention.
So in conclusion, Trump’s Presidency would revolve around lambasting minorities, eliminating the American Dream for millions of people, defying and ignoring the Supreme Court, infuriating the Republican establishment and destroying altogether the Obama legacy.
Can he win? Well unfortunately so. Trump leads all major pollsters in the race for the Republican nomination. While his aura has impressed so many, other moderate Republicans such as the early favourite Jeb Bush have faded rapidly. The Trump bandwagon is gathering momentum on an agenda of anti-political correctness and restoring America’s apparently lost greatness. He has said he will run as an independent should he not win the Republican nomination, which will also frighten the Republican National Committee despite their potential hostility to Trump. An independent Trump and a Republican nominee would have their vote split, which would look to leave the door open for an easy Democrat victory.
“Make America Great Again” – when did it stop getting great? America is still held up as the beacon of hope in the world and the land of opportunity is still very much so. And what America does Trump wish to return to? The America that segregated over 10% of its’ population based on race? The America that supported tyrannical dictatorships worldwide?
Trump is a lot like Marmite – “love him or hate him”. There’s not much middle ground. Whatever our opinion of Donald Trump is, we must respect that he speaks for a significant amount of Americans who feel alienated by the political establishment and power of money in American politics. Remember, Trump is a self-made self-financing candidate who made his fortune with a small loan of $1 million.
One things for sure; he ain’t going away. Watch this space. By November, we could be referring to President Trump…