Foreign Affairs

The political insanity of Donald Trump

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Donald Trump, formerly just an iconic business tycoon, is now one of the world’s most discussed political celebrities. Trump, the son of a New York property magnate, has shown an enduring desire to overcome several unfortunate accidents of birth. Indeed, Trump has turned an awkward surname into a global brand. Through the Trump MortgageTrump Ice Cream, and even Trump: The Game, Donald has proven time and again that he is the world’s most innovative megalomaniac.

After jousting with the idea for a number of years, Trump has plunged into a campaign to govern America. To achieve this lifelong ambition, the 69 year-old is competing for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party. So far, Trump has spewed his half-baked ideas with sufficient chauvinism to distract Republicans from the absence of his core mental faculties, thus defying another accident of birth. The polls have placed the billionaire businessman ahead of his rivals for a number of months.

Trump’s persona, epitomised by the conviction that he can ‘Make America Great Again’, is an Atlantic twist on a well-known fictional comedy figure. Indeed, traits possessed by Trump – namely his bull-headed confidence and his reputation as a womaniser – are shared by Flashheart, a prominent character in the TV series Blackadder. Unlike his British counterpart however, Trump is infatuated with money, has often been accused of racism, and is infrequently charming (surely typifying the disparity between America and Britain).

Superficially, the catchphrase of the Trump campaign – to ‘Make America Great Again’ – is itself a bit puzzling. The USA still boasts the second largest economy in the world and a GDP per-capita only surpassed in the West by Luxembourg, Norway, San Marino, and Switzerland. Yet, Trump’s slogan is designed to purposefully mislead a fearful electorate. Through the creation of an illusionary crisis, Trump has been able to fabricate enemies supposedly responsible for America’s demise. As long as he can mask the real world through melodramatic scaremongering, voters will swarm to Trump’s bandwagon, believing it to be the final defence against perennial national decay.

The finger of blame has thus been squarely directed at America’s Hollywood nemeses – Muslims and Mexicans. Indeed, the Republican frontrunner has accused Mexico of “sending” criminals and rapists to the United States. Of course, this naïve prejudice is dismantled in the face of facts and evidence. Bianca E. Bersani, sociologist at the University of Massachusetts, has proven that first-generation immigrants commit significantly fewer crimes than their American-born neighbours. Jorg Spenkuch, of Northwestern University, has upheld this thesis, positing that “There’s essentially no correlation between immigrants and violent crime” in the United States.

Trump’s denunciation of the Muslim community has escalated luridly since the Islamic State attacks in Paris on 13th November. Trump has suggested for some time that America has a “Muslim problem”, and the Republican contender now advocates the creation of a database to track Muslims. It is well-known that the Nazis branded Jews with the yellow Star of David in order to subjugate an entire religion during the 1930s and 1940s. Trump obviously believes that this historical precedent should be followed.

Aside from saddling Jews with a visual reminder of their subordination, Hitler peddled the notion that Jews were responsible for the decline of the German nation. Jews were accused of having committed assorted crimes, and were assumed to be culpable merely because they were Jewish. Similarly, Donald Trump uses every terrorist attack as an opportunity to harangue the Muslim faith. Disparate violence is unquestioningly associated with the self-constructed notion of Islam as an inherently vicious religion. If we conformed to this bizarre logic, it would be equally acceptable to propose that the world has a “Christian problem” by highlighting the acts committed by the KKK or Anti-Balaka in the name of the Christian faith.

Moreover, Trump’s simplistic narrative, that associates all Muslims with Islamic State terror, is further invalidated by the deficit of devotion shown by IS. Many IS fighters possess only rudimentary knowledge about Islam. In 2008, an MI5 briefing document obtained by the Guardian revealed that ‘Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practice their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could be regarded as religious novices.’ The first-hand experience of Didier François, a French journalist who was held by IS in Syria for ten months, also verified this intelligence. After being released, François told CNN that the dialog between IS fighters “was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.”

Donald Trump is an incredibly successful businessman who undoubtedly possesses an aptitude for accumulating capital. However, Mr Trump fails to recognise that gross wealth is not an adequate substitute for intelligence. Perhaps it is due to a fundamental fault in the American psyche that Trump is able to acquire such political prominence. And if this enigmatic entrepreneur is able, one day, to articulate his parochial prejudice from the Oval Office, then this national defect will have generated global repercussions.

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