By Reuben Abati
If there was any hope that Donald Trump would change tactics and be more restrained after winning the Republican party Presidential nomination for the November 8 US election, that hope is now lost. The fellow has remained aggressive, incorrigibly brash and completely negative. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson has asked: “Is Donald Trump just plain crazy?” (August 1). Robinson says he is “increasingly convinced,” and that Trump’s “grasp on reality appears to be tenuous at best.”
The way he is carrying on, indeed Trump may need a mental fitness test soon. By now, it must be clear to all and sundry, that he poses a great risk to the United States, to democracy and the liberal world. President Barack Obama has dismissed him as being unfit to be President, he being so totally unprepared, he being no more than a bumbling apprentice seeking the highest job in the United States. A man given to melodrama and expletives such as Trump, without any respect for basic decorum and standards would make a very bad President. He must be prevented from doing damage to the free world.
I am however, surprised that there are Nigerians who insist that he is a better choice. I don’t think so. And don’t ask me why Nigerians should be so divided over another country’s election. The truth is that America’s Presidential election is a world election. There are millions of Nigerians and Africans living in the United States and even greater numbers hoping to visit, study or live in the United States. What happens in America affects the rest of the world. If a Trump Presidency happens, we are all in trouble.
What Trump stands for is anti-progress. It amounts to a fascist, authoritarian promotion of a brand of nationalism that defeats the objectives of inclusion and togetherness. But he says, “I’m really a nice guy believe me, I pride myself on being a nice guy but I‘m also passionate and determined to make our country great again” Nice guy? A nice guy who says he wants to build a wall to barricade Mexico. This nice guy couldn’t even stand the sight of a crying baby, interrupting his speech. He had to ask the poor mother to take her baby out of the room. Nice guy has been busy abusing the parents of an American soldier who died in action in Iraq. He doesn’t even believe that African Americans and other minorities should be allowed to vote. He says Mexicans are criminals and rapists.
This nice guy doesn’t want immigrants and Muslims in America. He talks down on women, Hispanics and blacks. He does not even believe that Black lives matter. He supports nuclear war because it would be “pretty quick” and he wants Japan and South Korea to have their own nuclear weapons. This nice guy is a fan of Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin. Affordable Care that allows more Americans to have access to quality healthcare is unacceptable to him. If he becomes President he will expel over 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and put an end to birthright citizenship. Trump’s real ambition is to become an Emperor of the United States, and by extension the world. But sorry, America’s Constitutional traditions will not allow that. The American voter should deny him his dream.
That moment which President Barack Obama alluded to, when he said there must come a moment when a people must say thus far and no further has come: with Trump, yes. Which is why it is good news that he has been dropping in the polls, and the myth that he is unstoppable is exploding. Common sense is beginning to prevail in America. Like all politicians in his situation, Trump has become more aggressive and temperamental. He even says the election will be rigged. It is so easy to complain about rigging in an election that has not yet taken place, not so?
His supporters are even threatening that there will be “bloodbath” and “widespread civil disobedience” if he loses the election! Wait a moment: are there some Nigerians working for Trump, some Nigerian politicians teaching him dirty tricks? He should wake up: if he loses the election as he should, there will be dancing in the streets from New York to my mother’s village. Every vote against Trump, the man who wants to turn America away from the rest of the world, will be a vote for American progress. But his latest desperation sends one clear message: he should not be under-estimated. His blunt refusal to back the re-election of House Speaker Paul Ryan just shows the kind of man he is: vengeful.
The Republican establishment wants to dump him. Forget it. That is too late in the day and it is probably the surest way to further damage the GOP. And how about Trump himself throwing in the towel? No way! His campaign spokesperson, Hope Hicks has ruled this out saying, “There is no truth to this whatsoever.” Of course, he won’t. Megalomaniacs like Trump do not quit. He likes the limelight. He enjoys being a Presidential standard bearer. Even when it becomes clear that he will lose, Trump would keep trudging on. Defeat would still be a win-win for him in any case. He can subsequently milk his Presidential campaign for big profit: a book, a movie, another reality television show, or speaking engagements. And Trump will still push himself into our faces on television: no doubt, he would make a good, fictional President on television, but not in the White House. Yes, Mr. Trump, stay in the race.
Hillary Clinton is the acceptable choice. But it is unfortunate that the 2016 US Presidential election has been reduced to a strictly moral choice: who sounds more humane between the two candidates? It has also been reduced to emotions rather than the big issues: who makes us feel safe, and which candidate makes us nervous? Trump does not inspire with any of his incoherent ideas: what miracle can anyone expect from a Presidential candidate who says climate change is a “hoax”, specializes in abusing people, and believes that he needs bully tactics rather than ideas to win an important election. He combines this with make-believe strategies. But the American Presidency is not Trump Casino or Trump Steaks. Trump’s strongest point is his ability to exploit the fears of an alienated middle class that feels shortchanged by the American system.
He has accordingly, been very aggressive in labeling Hillary Clinton as a co-architect of this system and co-author of all the fears currently being entertained by average middle class Americans: fears about how the power elite and the rich are alienated from the people. Fears about spreading poverty and unemployment particularly in inner America. Fears about the continuing rise of a rich minority that continues to dominate American life, business and culture. Fears about the increasing influx of immigrants who bring problems of their own and take jobs meant for white Americans.
These fears are real and Trump, being the ultimate salesman and xenophobe is heaping all the blames on Hillary Clinton and the class she seemingly represents. He calls her “The Devil,” and now he says, she is “the founder of Isis”. Trump wants to be President for the sake of it. He wants to prove that he can be President. But he has no idea about governance and he really does not think governance matters. Hillary Clinton can win and should, but overwhelming international goodwill is not the thing. The current lead in the polls in Mrs Clinton’s favour may not be enough to discourage Trump, who is apparently far more desperate.
Offensive as his messaging process is, I repeat that he cannot be under-estimated in any way, and Hillary Clinton must not assume that victory is certain without the rigorous hard work that will stop Trump from getting to the Oval Office. She needs to allay the fears of the alienated and vulnerable Americans who actually suspect that she may be one of the many “Devils” in America. Trump must not be allowed to use Casino tactics to become America’s President. He is unfit.