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The Donald: Joke or Genuine Chance?

By Isabelle Walker

The Republican Candidacy always has its share of colourful characters, but rarely are they the consistent frontrunner.

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Donald Trump continues to surprise. The Presidential Candidate is sitting at the top of the polling for the Presidential Primaries (25.3 per cent) and not showing any signs of slowing down, despite the fact that any credible political reporter wrote him off from the get-go. 

His closest adversary, Ben Carson, is a point behind. From there, the next Republican Candidate is Marco Rubio, polling at around 11 per cent. The establishment favourite, Jeb Bush, is languishing on 5.5 per cent. 

To a politico, Trump’s success is a mystery. He has not one shred of political experience. He openly declares that Mexico has given America a generation of ‘rapists and murderers’ coming across the border. He headed a public campaign that seriously questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the USA. He is also seriously sexist. The man should not be considered a genuine candidate for President. 

Even so, he continues to gain ground and popularity. Perhaps the fatigue of career politicians has taken its toll on an increasingly tired America. Maybe Trump is vocalising what a lot of Americans think. Maybe it’s just because his media coverage is so outstanding, some people can’t name another Republican candidate. 

When Trump supporters are asked about why they support him, there are various reactions. “Trump is low risk, high reward”; “Trump is a Moderate compromiser”; “Trump is a corrective to American pathologies”; “Trump embodies the rage of the white middle class”; and Trump is stringently anti-establishment. 

Over the weekend, Trump was the host of Saturday Night Live (SNL) – the stalwart of American comedy sketch shows. From all sides, the appearance was deemed a failure. The jokes, that could have easily skewered Trump, did nothing but feed his ego. He didn’t have much of a chance to laugh at himself, and apparently vetoed many of the ‘risque’ jokes. As the clip shows (below), his delivery was awkward and he was trying desperately to be funny. 
 

The issue with Trump is that because he’s a joke to political buffs, critics don’t take the time to seriously question his credentials. Critics don’t even want to engage with his policies, let alone analyse them. But this is to their peril, because Trump appears to be getting through to a lot of average Americans. He represents the American dream of success and riches, and he’s had his own reality show to boot. 

The only way to stop this runaway train of success is to stop thinking Trump is a joke and start to take him seriously. If an Austrian blockbuster movie star can become the Governor of California, it is not a stretch that a flamboyant billionaire can make it to the White House. But how will he combat ISIS and maintain diplomacy with myriad competing interests? Will he repeal Obamacare and restrict women’s reproductive rights? How exactly will he be the ‘greatest jobs President God ever created’? Will he actually build ‘the wall’?

The sooner Trump is taken down once and for all through effective criticism of his policy credentials and questionable beliefs, the sooner a serious conversation can be had about who will potentially be the next leader of the free world.