I recently saw a photograph of a Donald Trump rally where his supporters were holding aloft placards with TRUMP prominently displayed in capital letters. By hap chance, one of these placards had been partially obstructed, and simply read RUMP. And I thought, how apposite for a wannabee politician who spends most of his time talking out of his backside.
I have followed American politics for some time since I graduated back in the sixties with Joint honours in Politics and Sociology from McGill University in the fifty first state of America, also known as Canada. I am in bewildered awe of the American Presidential system and its ability to throw up the strangest candidates, and sometimes, they get themselves elected. The best that can be said about the system is that the elected president cannot serve beyond eight years, so not long enough to do any lasting damage.
I am also in bewildered awe of a presidential system where canvassing and fund raising seem to go on for an eternity, at least a year and sometimes longer, it certainly seems that way, before the incumbent is shown the door and goes off to build his library and hopefully rebuild his reputation. In some cases, a tall order.
The other remarkable and rather depressing thing is that so many of the candidates are as thick as two short planks. Mark you, the States doesn’t have a monopoly in this regard, just look at Jeremy Corbyn and his acolytes.
But back to Trump. His more outrageous statements are confined to foreign policy, an area where American presidential candidates are notoriously ignorant. And understandably so. It’s all very black and white. They’re either with us or against us has been the Mantra for as long as I can remember, no room for grey areas. And when they do discover a part of the world they’d never heard of before, such as Iraq in the case of George W Bush, it can lead to unforeseen consequences. Trump has discovered North Korea and its divine leader. He is in awe of the way Kim Jong Un disposes of his political opponents. Perish the thought, but if Trump were to be elected President, I hope somebody will tell him that summary executions of political opponents are frowned upon although not unheard of. Kim’s uncle was executed for “halfhearted clapping” at an official event, so top that. Trump also lauds the odious Putin for being a strong leader, highly respected within his own country and beyond.
What is dangerously depressing is that a significant number of American voters think the sun shines out of the Trump Rump, and the more he behaves like an idiot, the more they seem to like him. It is possible, when the chips are down, these same American voters will dump Trump, but don’t bet on it. The best that can be said about the American presidential system is that the incumbent is more of a figurehead and has little executive power that is not granted to him by Congress. Look at Obama. When he was elected, it was all about the ‘audacity of hope’ and ‘yes we can’. Sadly, like so many dreams, they turn into nightmares.