Alex Moore: Why the 2016 Presidential Election Will Make History

In the summer of 1963, Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and famously declared that he had a dream that his children would one day not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Donald Trump was 17 years old when Dr King made this speech. I wonder what the controversial presidential nominee thought about Dr King’s revolutionary civil rights movement of the 1960s? But more importantly, how would King himself view a candidate like Trump running for President of the United States? I think the latter question is very easy to answer. Donald Trump’s ideology (if you can call it that) goes against every principle, moral and ideal MLK gave his life for.

The 2016 presidential election race has been one of the most exciting ever seen and there is so much riding on the outcome. History will be made either way once the general election results are decided in November. We will either get the first female president, or the oldest ever president. Whoever is sworn into the White House in January 2017, it’s fair to say they will be rather older than Obama.

“I don’t even think Donald Trump believes what he says. But this doesn’t matter”

Over the last few months, I have been wondering when everyone involved with the Trump campaign is going to turn around, look at each other, laugh and admit it has all been a big joke. I don’t even think Donald Trump believes what he says. But this doesn’t matter. The fact is that he feels free to speak his mind at every opportunity he gets. Trump reminds me of a bloke you may meet at the pub on a Friday evening. He has a loud and uninformed opinion on almost everything and doesn’t hold back when expressing it.

So should we treat Trump as a fool? No. Trump is no fool. He is a clever, sharp businessman who knows how to get what he wants and enthuse people. Whatever us Europeans may think of Donald, he has secured the most GOP votes ever in history at the primary elections stage. Bush 43 held the previous record in 2000, but Trump has hit Bush’s early electoral figures out of the park, as the Americans would say.

Just to make matters worse, no one has the faintest idea how Trump’s policies are going to be implemented if he makes it into the White House. But does this matter for his faithful supporters? Of course not. Will he build a wall on the US-Mexico border? Will he ban Muslims from entering the United States? No he won’t. How can he? Even the most radical of Republicans in Congress will block this sort of nonsense. As the Obama administration has proven, no president can pass even slightly radical legislation or bills without a significant majority in the Houses of Capitol Hill.

“Research has shown that women tend to decide the results of US elections”

This is, for obvious reasons, the most gender-driven presidential campaign in history. Clinton has constantly played the gender card throughout her campaign. And why shouldn’t she? It’s going to be one of her strongest tactics heading into the general election and she has a great opportunity to further discredit Trump over his past comments towards women.

After all, research has shown that women tend to decide the results of US elections, with more women voting in general elections than men. Isn’t it amazing how far the world has progressed in the last century?

Democrats, however, face a real dilemma. Bernie Sanders’ supporters seem increasingly unwilling to support Clinton, whose campaign will be in real trouble if she cannot galvanise support from all Americans opposed to Trump. The Sanders campaign has, however, grown even bigger than Sanders himself, and must rally towards the centre of American politics and towards the woman they claim to loath if they are to stop Trump in his tracks.

Trump is unlike any other ‘right wing’ politician to run for the US presidency in history. There are literally no historical comparisons we can draw upon. The closest we can probably get is Barry Goldwater, who ran against LBJ in the 1964 election, however he suffered a landslide defeat. Interestingly though, many of Goldwater’s policies came to dominate Republican policy in the years to come.

“The American electorate have defied all logic and rationality in the primaries”

The Trump vs Clinton contest is also the first presidential election to be fought between two New Yorkers since 1944, when Thomas Dewey, the Governor of New York, ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Democratic candidate won out on this occasion of course, but FDR’s fourth term was ill-fated. Roosevelt’s intelligence and logic made him such a popular president, but will it be enough for Clinton to simply throw facts, intelligence and logic at Trump to see him buckle? I’m not entirely sure how well this will work since the other 16 Republican candidates in the primaries tried this to no avail. The American electorate have defied all logic and rationality in the primaries and Hillary will need to throw everything and the kitchen sink at Donald during the general election to come.

Many see this Republican campaign as the last stand of the angry white man. Trump gives his supporters a voice that they have previously never had. His so called “revolution” is the outcry of a disillusioned white working class against a privileged few and an establishment enslaved by its own liberalism.

And what about Trump’s lack of commitment to the NATO alliance? A few weeks ago the New Yorker claimed that America’s solidarity with the alliance could not be guaranteed in the face of Russian aggression throughout a Trump presidency. This is one of Trump’s greatest blunders yet. NATO’s post-war alliance system has directly contributed to 70 years of peace in Europe – the longest peacetime period ever achieved in the history of the continent – and Trump now threatens this stability. After 9/11, the NATO alliance stood with the USA in its hour of need and even formed a coalition of nations to assist in the subsequent Middle Eastern wars. Trump’s ignorance of historical significance and the necessity of bi-lateral action has set the alarm bells ringing across western world. Vladimir Putin must be getting his popcorn out in anticipation of the US election to come.

“They’re both part-time comedians and full-time psychopaths”

A Trump presidency reminds me of Kevin Spacey’s excellent role as the Machiavellian President Frank Underwood in the House of Cards Netflix TV series. They’re both part-time comedians and full-time psychopaths. The trouble is, Trump isn’t a fictional character. He’s a very real phenomenon who represents hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Small government and maximum freedom were the principles the Republican Party was founded on by Amos Tuck in 1854, but Donald Trump’s small-mindedness and bigotry could threaten the fundamental principles that United States was built upon. The general election is going to be another roller coaster, but surely it will be Hillary who prevails.

I guess all there is left to do now is cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

Alex Moore

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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