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View from the brink of the age of Drumpf




Donald Drumpf more or less swept the polls in the American Super Tuesday primaries, racking up wins in eight of 11 states and gathering 192 more delegates. Senator Ted Cruz won two other states, including his home of Texas, while supposed-saviour of the GOP Marco Rubio won only in Minnesota.

Most of the talk on the Republican side right now seems to be how to stop Drumpf. Rubio has fizzled; Cruz has yet to take off (and by most accounts is hated by everyone in Congress who has had anything to do with him). Governor John Kasich of Ohio, whose message has been in general far more moderate and traditionally Republican, has only 25 delegates (though he insists he's not leaving the race).

You'd think that would mean Republicans would begin to rally around Drumpf, but this week has seen more internal strife surrounding his candidacy than ever.

On Sunday Drumpf demurred when asked on a news show how he felt about former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke voicing his support for a Drumpf presidency. Virtually all quarters took his comments as a quiet but clear signal of welcome to white supremacists. Drumpf has since tried to walk the comments back as the result of a bad earpiece. Few believe him.  

A number of high profile Republicans in and out of Congress have come out saying they would never vote for Drumpf under any circumstance. And Drumpf's one major new supporter, former presidential candidate and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has faced fierce derision for what seems to be a incredibly cynical decision.

Donald DrumpfOn the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton looks to have won seven states to Sanders' four. It's possible Sanders may soon to begin to face pressure to bow out, but it's doubtful that it will have much effect. While Clinton looks to have the support to win the race, and thus far has the clear backing of minorities, Sanders' message and personality continue to resonate in a way that Clinton's simply does not.  

Clinton has tried to adjust by largely aping Sanders' cries for justice and fairness. But it's unclear whether she believes in any of what she's saying, or even whether she completely understands the frustrations people are expressing. More than any other candidate still in the race, Clinton represents establishment values. And the momentum on all sides is against that.

One would assume that come the actual election these sorts of concerns will fall to the way side in favour of stopping Drumpf at all costs. (The fury at his possible election really does seem to have picked up this week from all sides.)

But it's not clear that Sanders Democrats will unite around Clinton. Young people detest her, and many have suggested that if Sanders loses, they're either not voting or they're writing him in.

All of which is to say, as the primaries move forward Clinton's greatest challenge is probably not winning, but not winning back those votes.

As has been the case since the beginning, Drumpf's continued success proves difficult to explain. This week saw British comedian John Oliver deliver a brilliant, detailed analysis of Drumpf's flaws (see above) — his astonishing capacity for lying; his race baiting; his Clive Palmer-like shady dealings between his corporate funds and campaign financing. The list goes on and on.

In the New York Times this week, columnist and Christian evangelical Peter Wehner argued that evangelicals' support of Drumpf is antithetical to everything they believe in, insisting that supporting Drumpf is something Jesus wouldn't do.

But it's not clear any of it makes any difference. For those who support Drumpf, such attacks may only go to show he is the straight-talking guy outside the establishment they've been looking for.  

And hey, who cares if he is a bigot, as long as he's bigoted in the ways that we are, too. (Fun fact: 6 in 10 Republican voters polled on Super Tuesday support a 'temporary ban' on Muslims entering the United States. 4 in 10 want undocumented immigrants deported.)

So, it remains a very strange time in America. Under Barack Obama the United States has had eight years of largely responsible, idealistic executive leadership. Yet rather than that shepherding in a new hope-filled era, we find ourselves standing before a chasm of largely uncontrolled id.


Jim McDermottJim McDermott is an American Jesuit and screenwriter.

Topic tags: Jim McDermott, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, American election 2016, Marco Rubio



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Existing comments

As weird a time politically as I can remember in my voting years. Jim's right. Trump clearly will be the Republican nominee, despite the fact that Republican leaders are now actively fighting against him: Romney attacked Trump yesterday. My prediction: Clinton v Trump, and Clinton wins in the biggest swamping since Nixon. As President Obama said the other day, I have faith that given a serious candidate with experience in government (albeit wholly untrustworthy, and an adamant abortion advocate) against a racist clown who has been divorced twice and bankrupt four times, who insulted the Pope and former POW John McCain, a clown who five times avoided Vietnam, we are going to have to choose Mrs Clinton -- unless Bruce Springsteen enters the race.

Brian Doyle | 04 March 2016  

I am bemused to note that there is only one comment in response to this piece. Australians ought to be appalled at the prospect of The Donald, vulgarian par excellence and pathological narcissist, becoming President.

Irene | 07 March 2016  

Irene, I am making the foot to add some additional comments. my choices are Bernie Sanders who sits a long way on the left and has no plan to fund his redistribution of wealth. Hillary who is corrupt and part of the corruption of Washington. Noting of course that she has been using her personal email for classified material and denied support for her Benghazi gay ambassador that ended dying a death of torture where the moslem perpetrators inserted all sorts of devices into his anus. Senator Cruz who represents the worst of the conservative republican apparatus or Rubio who thinks that women impregnated by rapists would have to be quarantined so they could not terminate the pregnancy. Trump is smart like a fox and much smarter than the author or the existing comments give him credit for. He is pro choice. he is in favor of providing health care to Americans that cannot afford it ( noted Obamacare needs some fiscal changes ). He is a proven business person ( won some and lost some like all good business people ). Finally, he speaks his mind and realizes he will offend some but still puts forward his view. He will get better at this through the rest of the campaign. I think he poses the most invigorating and exciting choice we have had as the leader of the free world in decades. The republicans are the most scared because he is breaking their voting constituency apart and the US political analysts are covering these points daily. America needs change and this guy is the only one that can break the corruption that sits in form of lobbyists, industrial military complex, investment banking, political donors and everything else that corrupts political processes.

LPS | 08 March 2016  

LPS' comments are remarkable. The leader of the free world? Trump? Pro-choice? Trump? He has no positions at all; he changes them at whim; he has never governed anything or anyone, even himself; would you invest your money with someone who has four times lost everything? He avoided the war five times; he has no concept of foreign policy; he has no concept that clean air and clean water are the prime problems of our time; he admires Putin; what exactly draws a vote for this man? That he speaks his mind, and vomits racist bile? That's a good thing? It's honest of him, is it, to insult war veterans and women and popes? You would put this man in charge of the nuclear codes?

Brian Doyle | 10 March 2016  

Do you believe that he spews racist comments because you have heard him do so, or because the media manipulates the things that Trump says? Do you believe that a man's position should determine whether or not he receives criticism regardless of his actions or voiced opinions? We have asked soldiers to do unspeakable things during times of war. We have asked that they do not what is being done to them, but rather do to others what bleeding heart liberals feel is just. If a soldier's entire unit is taken out by a small child strapped with a bomb (a bomb that was put there by a man who is caught and interrogated,) we will arrest and crucify the soldier who forces the man he is interrogating to eat pork. We determine that crucifying the soldier is just, despite the horrible circumstances, yet when a war hero turned politician's actions, and or views are criticized for their hypocritical nature or violation of the constitution we accuse the criticizer of 'attacking war veterans.' Trump calls people out for the things that they do. He understands that logic will give this country a firm standing before progressive rationalization for policies that undermine the constitution and our financial standing.

Tabitha | 15 March 2016  

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