There was a violent clash between pro- and anti-Trump supporters after his campaign speech in San Diego. His rigid, inflammatory views on immigration was at the heart of the clash. But it is not only on immigration that Donald Trump has the ability to polarize the diversity of opinion, that is of concern.
According to Dolan, a law professor at the South Pacific School of Law, ‘Trump is a dangerous, unprincipled vulgarian‘. He urges Republicans to have courage and step up and defeat Trump. But this seems impossible now, since the process has gone too far. Trump has done the seemingly impossible and won the Republican nomination for the USA presidency.
But how was this possible, given all the criticism and outrage from the establishment that he has received during his campaign?
Trump is a political outsider, and he has not engaged his opponents according to the ‘political rules’. This has been his most effective strength. Being an outsider, he is not answerable to established patterns and rules. He has been politically incorrect in every way.
His fundamental strategy has been one of belittling, demeaning and degrading his opposition in public. In a sporting context, he has fought dirty. No political opponent has been able to defeat him at his own game. Anyone who has tried to play him at his own game, has lost. Trump is not sensitive to the opinions of others, so outrage and criticism from others that may threaten him, will be the very process that he feeds off, fueling his intense desire and determination to gain control. Trump loves to fight, and he knows how to fight. This fight intensifies when his egotistical survival is threatened. For him, the best form of defence is attack.
By nature, there is always a strategy and power-play to every politician’s statement. In general, politicians say what they think you want to hear. While debating, Trump has highlighted the hypocrisy and deviousness of himself, as well as, of all other politicians. He has exposed and highlighted the ‘darker side’ of the political world.
His ‘rules of engagement’ in any interpersonal encounter (personal, business and political) indicate that he cannot be trusted. He has an egotistical perspective about any situation that he encounters, which he interprets and changes in a manipulative way to benefit his need for power and control. Africa is full of such leaders (Mugabe, is a case in point), and when in power, their every action activates a process of destruction.
So given all of this, why does he have such a following?
On stage, in public, he has voiced in a simplistic, yet emotive way what many of the electorate at grassroots level are thinking and/or experiencing. His rather crude and emotive language helps him join and connect with those who have felt ‘unheard’. It is obvious that there is a great divide between those in political power who purport to serve the people, and the people. The electorate are angry at the politicians and therefore take vicarious delight at how he brutally attacks them on a personal level.
Trump brings to the surface, simmering issues, such as immigration and terrorism. These issues threaten the basic safety needs of people and in a rather bizarre way, he is seen to be the solution to complex global issues. His strong-arm tactics seem to make them feel safe, much like a bouncer at a night club that ensures everyone behaves.
Of particular concern, the USA presidential campaign has cast serious doubts on all of its leadership. As an alternative to Trump, Hilary Clinton offers little confidence. She is also riddled with controversy. So at a critical time in our global evolution, the USA does not seem to have a leader with the necessary qualities of integrity and wisdom to deal with the complexity of global issues that are emerging. It is a sorry state of affairs.
With regard to the immigration issue, many ordinary people are feeling unsafe and fearful. This results in societies building up barriers in order to protect what they have, in the fear that others from the outside may take what they have got. This is not just the case in America. In a small Swiss village, many miles from the US, the inhabitants (many of which are millionaires), have voted to reject 10 asylum seekers into their community and instead pay a £200 000 fine to the government. But paying off a problem, only suspends the problem. The fundamental reason given by a resident was that ‘we have worked hard all our lives and have a lovely village that we do not want spoiled…we are not suited to take in refugees…they would not fit in here’.
Dealing with any global issue requires integrative and holistic thinking. The political challenge is to find collaborative ways for all concerned to participate in finding solutions to complex problems that are being encountered. This is a creative process, not a power or financial process. The USA presidential campaign has clearly highlighted the ineffectiveness of politicians in this regard.