My 13-year-old son wagered, six months ago, that Donald Trump would be the Republican Party nominee. I told him confidently that after the initial round of triumphs, Trump would fade away and Jeb Bush would ride back to prominence. I may have to pay my son 50 dollars if indeed The Donald ends up as the “conservative” candidate to take on in November, what now the media are forecasting as the Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton. Very few people are happy about such an outcome, and there is some feverish activity behind the scenes to somehow queer the pitch for the wildly unpredictable Trump if we are to believe what the insiders who appear on the media proclaim.
This has been one of the most quirky election seasons, to put it euphemistically, since I arrived in this country some 30 years ago. Politics has always been dirty, and America is always suffering from one election fever or the other, with its presidential election process the most lengthy, complicated, and expensive, adding to its citizens’ discontent with democracy. Billions are spent besmirching one another in an endless series of television ads, billboards, robocalls, posters and signs that litter the American landscape and clutter the airwaves, and an increasing number of “debates” where the only way a candidate can make his or her case, in a crowded field, is to be the most obnoxious, loudest, or take the most extreme position on the country’s most contentious issues: God, guns, war, abortion, immigration, healthcare, and the economy.
Then, there is the day-to-day dysfunction in Congress that makes people yearn for some “leader” to take charge and make things happen. Add on top of that the three-decades-long dismantling of the traditional American economy, the influx of legal and illegal immigrants, the widening disparity in incomes, unbridled increase in healthcare costs and college tuition, and a hundred other “big problems” including unnecessary wars, threats from terrorists, and an over-supply of drugs, both legal and illegal, and you have the ingredients for a perfect storm in the electoral battleground. That is what we have now, and it is not just in the Republican battlefield.
Take the case of Hillary Clinton: she has one of the highest negative ratings, and it is not just because of the “opposition”. Ambitious but uninspiring, grating on one’s ears, carrying political and personal baggage that might have driven anyone else less hardy to a faraway island to seek solace and respite, she believes she is on her way to establishing residence where her husband reigned for eight years. She wants to be America’s first female president, and there is a phalanx of Washington DC veterans hard at work to put her there. But, before she gets there she has to deal with Senator Sanders whose message is more inspiring, who has refused to play ball with the “establishment”, who has correctly diagnosed what ails the American economy, and who, if elected, would be less willing to take America to war than the eager, hectoring interventionist, Secretary Clinton. As Tulsi Gabbard, the only Hindu Congresswoman, who just two days ago endorsed Sen. Sanders, has noted, Hillary Clinton is a dangerous prospect for the presidency because of her willing eagerness to intervene in world affairs, the costs to the American exchequer, the destabilizing effects on the world, and the cost in human lives. Indians should beware more the potential Clinton presidency simply because of whom she would enthuse to influence Indian politics and governance, and to whom she would lend an eager ear: a whole variety of left activists, entrenched Muslim and Christian activists and agencies who seek to push Hindus and Hinduism into a corner, hectoring state department diehards who wish to equate India with Pakistan, academics peddling secular fare, and a multitude of NGOs who want to use their billions to make a perfectly unrecognizable India.
Sen. Sanders faces a long, uphill battle, and from the varieties of expert prognoses, the road to his nomination as the Democratic Party candidate ends tonight (March 1st). But he has kindled hope in the young, and he has energized those who have for long been concerned at the growing economic divide, the influence of big money on politics, the cozy relationship between the Democratic Party wheeler-dealers and Wall Street, big corporation, and sleazy Middle Eastern powerbrokers and enablers. That the calculating House of Saud has donated generously to the Clinton Foundation and paid for speeches by Bill and Hillary Clinton, and that Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved supply of arms to Saudi Arabia has been authenticated by media sources, and these are not merely allegations by right-wing conspiracy theorists. That Hillary Clinton has shrilly denounced Iran on the stump at every opportunity while keeping absolutely silent on the Saudi funding of terrorists, and their meddling in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere provide more evidence of not only the quid pro quo between the Saudis and the Clintons and the Clintonites but also the questionable role of Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, against whom there are serious allegations, mostly by the right-wing press but worth noting.
Worth noting too is the amount of wealth the Clintons have accumulated since Bill Clinton left office (the couple’s net worth now is conservatively estimated to be in the range of $111 million), highlighting their amorality and cupidity. That Sen. Clinton negotiated for a cap of 30 percent on the interest that banks charged on credit card debt was galling enough, but this article by Sen. Elizabeth Warren goes to show the amorality if not the cunning of Hillary Clinton when it comes to banking policies and Wall Street interests. One will have to read to the end of the article to understand the point Sen. Warren makes lest they wonder why anyone would have a problem supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
Finally, Indian readers will have to be wary of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for her activist, interventionist foreign policy, her “get Modi” policy, which was quietly reversed by Obama, and of course, the many Clintonite activists with their many agendas to reshape and influence Indian ways of living and being.
But what if the November election is a face-off between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? Yes, Mr. Trump has been caught in flagrante on many matters, and he has played the populist card to entice dangerous right-wing, extremist fringes into his fold. But the media and his opponents have also played fast and loose with some of the statements he has made in public. For example, his comments about barring Muslim refugees from entering the U.S. which has been carefully abridged to paint him into a corner was less of a bald call to stop all Muslims from ever entering the U.S. as much as a call to ensure that new Muslim refugees were vetted carefully before allowed in. Now that the Germans, the Swedes, the Danes, and a whole host of European nations, who sought to pose themselves as liberal societies warmly welcoming refugees, have begun to furiously backpedal on their promises, and found hundreds of thousands of “refugees” disappearing from their rosters, Donald Trump’s caution about opening the American immigration gates to refugees may not sound as wildly off-course as it first seemed to many. Interestingly, many, including this writer, find candidate Ted Cruz a more dangerous prospect than Donald Trump. When the master writer of horror, Stephen King, finds Ted Cruz the most terrifying of the crop of presidential candidates, we may take a little more kindly to The Donald, who, by the way, scares the too-clever-by-half establishment Republicans: he scares them because he is pro-choice, he supports healthcare initiatives, and he may in fact be seriously interested in having the Israelis and Palestinians sit together and negotiate a peace deal.
But when it comes time to vote, and if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party candidate, and Donald Trump the one left standing to counter her, most supporters of Sen. Sanders might hold their noses and vote for Clinton, for Donald Drumpf might prove to be too much of a huckster to believe and trust.
Wait, but what about Sen. Sanders? If, by some strange twist of fate, he were to trump Hillary Clinton, and emerge the Democratic Party nominee, what could a Sanders vs. Trump challenge be like? From one of the latest analyses, we find that Sen. Sanders would be a clear winner. The battle would be between a progressive populist and a conservative populist, and Sen. Sanders, who blusters little, and belittles none at all, and whose credentials have been vetted over a period of more than three decades might ride to the White House to give a real, serious push to change the system to benefit all: for the system is truly broken, and a minuscule number of winners have cornered most of the riches.
Ramesh N Rao is Professor, Department of Communication, Columbus State University
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!