Trump’s opponent, Ted Cruz’s wife had said that her husband’s candidacy was showing America, “the face of God, whom they serve”. But in reality many Americans were reminded of Elmer Gantry, a sleazy 1920s sociopathic preacher from the film Elmer Gantry. Most Americans were not ready for Ted Cruz’s kind of ultra-conservatism. They are worried about jobs. So to paraphrase Bill Clinton, “it is jobs, stupid.”
Trump had declared that his idea was to bring new blood in the party and change its base and outlook. He never spared an opportunity to provoke his rivals, party leadership and media personalities, who inevitably retaliated.
The anti-Trump movement spent more than $75 million on broadcast TV alone. He also weathered nearly 64,000 television advertisements critical of him. Media was also campaigning against him and giving favorable coverage to his opponents. All this has come to a naught. Now Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. He achieved this victory on his own, in spite of opposition from the Republican Party bosses, who are then left with no option but to back him. The leadership did not realize that people are tired of all politicians and do not trust them. Their false promises do not impress anyone. The longer a politician is in office, the more disliked he is. People are fed up with politicians with the same rhetoric and talking points, refusing to accept and learn from the mistakes and make changes and focus on improving the job situation. In 2014, the Republicans secured the largest majority in the House since 1928, and by winning nine seats, regained the Senate majority for the first time in eight years. They also took pride in having control of 31 governorships.
Nevertheless, the so-called establishment could not find any capable aspirant who could be a match for Trump, who had never held any public office. Trump has shown that the party leadership is out of touch.
The recent campaign has brought out the anger of young people, as they are the victims of modernization, international trade deals and shrinking economy with consequent loss of jobs. The income level has gone down, widening the gap between the rich and the ordinary people.
Germany, which had faced the same problem, woke up quite early and made provisions to train the affected workers in new technology. Hence, Germany was equipped to face the problems generated by the international trade agreements.
Neither the Obama administration nor the Republican Congress nor the Senate did anything to address this issue. Therefore, the Republican Party as well as Hillary Clinton are finding it difficult to face the angry youth in their own parties. The Republican leadership as well as Hillary all these years have indulged in pep talk and made tall promises which have failed to revive the economy.
So it is no wonder that while the Republican Party leadership has to eat humble pie, Hillary has also not secured the nomination yet because people do not really like her or trust her. She, of course, would get the required number of delegates in the remaining states, especially in California. But the victory will not be glorious.
Trump says that his ability to make deals and fix problems is the key to his remarkable success in business. But the eventual final campaign would not be easy for either Trump or Hillary. All these days Trump has scrupulously avoided giving details of his economic policy or his international agenda.
His “America First” slogan has roused nationalist fervor but it would result in a protectionist policy. It is true that all international trade agreements have some unpalatable clauses but they also boost trade and economy. It is curious that while multi-billionaire Trump’s “America-First” policy is another name for protectionism; the self-proclaimed socialist, Sanders, also wants to tread the same path. Some economists have pointed out that various welfare schemes put forward by Sanders would have to be backed up by heavy taxation, resulting in the increase in inflation and the cost of living.
So far, democratic white youth nationwide have favored Sanders and brought Hillary’s favorability numbers significantly down. While Trump has won the nomination race, he does not mix with the African-Americans like Hillary does. He has alienated Hispanics and Muslims, which make a very large chunk of population. The language which Trump has used so far, is dangerous. In November, no matter who wins, Hillary or Trump, the problems facing either of them would be enormous and very intricate because of their history and the way in which they have conducted themselves so far.
For instance, it is believed that Hillary is willing to compromise. But some, who know her, say that it is true but at times she is very adamant. When her husband was the President, he put forward a plan for healthcare, which would have been accepted by the Congress with some amendments. But Hillary was adamant, hence the plan failed to pass.
The situation in the country demands a conciliatory tone as well as behavior. Obama generally kept aloof from the members of both parties and also leaders of other countries. Nevertheless, he did follow a conciliatory policy on crucial matters.
Hillary or Trump would have to face a not-so-friendly Congress and the Senate. It is quite possible that Sanders and some other Senators would keep up pressure on the future Clinton administration. It would need a great deal of acumen not to be populist and disturb the balance.
Hillary has been branded as someone, who is close to the financial circles. No President could afford to be an antagonist of these circles; but to keep a balance requires great deal of skill. While Hillary, first as the First Lady, then as the Senator, had relations with members of both houses of Congress., Trump would be totally new to the Congress and the administration. He, of course, has been the head of a big commercial conglomerate. But as the head of the state, he would have to run the administration, be answerable to the Congress as well as people, which is quite different from running a company. Thus, the new President would have to face a volatile situation and many challenges.
(Govind Talwalkar - The author is a former Editor of ‘Maharashtra Times’)