Donald Trump: Champ or Chump

Leah Driscoll asks if America is being trumped


We all know him as the only man other than Lord Alan Sugar who is allowed to fire people for public entertainment on his hit reality TV show The Apprentice. Coming in at 30 on the Forbes’ 2013 Celebrity Rich List, he is a Trump of all trades, acting as an international real estate mogul, owner of the Miss Universe Pageant and of his own menswear brand.

Donald Trump has most recently pounced into the spotlight as the newest contestant in ‘Who Wants to be the President of the United States.’ We can compare the 2016 U.S presidential campaign to a game because, surely, if Donald Trump is allowed to participate, it can be seen as nothing more.   

Trump is a difficult man to take seriously. With an ego as inflated as his net worth, he regularly drools discriminating generalisations and dangerously uneducated opinions on everything from international trade to climate change. A quick look at some of his stances is enough to provide a comedian with enough material to support a world tour, and you can be sure that script writers on Saturday Night Live are having a whale of a time teasing his every remark.  

Take for example, his strongly displayed and unabashed racism. Most notably, his opinion of Mexicans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump leaves no room for the imagination; he does not like Mexicans and has every intention of keeping them out of his country. “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” he has publicly stated. He even bites the hand that feeds him as he moves his attack to China, a country to which the U.S is deeply in debt: “China is raping this country.”

His opinion on climate change is just as laughable. Claiming a cold spell to be proof that global warming is “an expensive hoax,” he furthermore insists that Al Gore should return his Nobel Prize, after Trump experiences a chilly day in Los Angeles.  

Understandably, Trump is not short of critics. Several influential brands, ranging from NBC Television to Macy’s department store have cut ties with Trump in reaction to his comments on Mexico. Unsurprisingly, Mexico have pulled out of the Miss Universe Pageant in protest, and former Miss USA host Cheryl Burke refuses to be involved with the event in light of Trump’s recent statements.

Not only is he slated for his controversial opinions, but also for the seeming lack of preparation for his campaign in the Republican primaries. He boasts this fact, claiming that it proves that he is not a typical politician as “no one puts words in my mouth.” What this instead results in is a litany of unsupported claims and plans on which he is unable to specify. One look at Donald Trump’s website will show a page barren of any details of his policies or specific plans should he actually succeed in gaining the presidential position. In short, Trump appears to be a racist, inept, power-hungry shit-talker. Which begs the all-important question: why is he succeeding?

Opinion polls regarding Trump have done a full 180 in recent months. An ABC poll which had once shown 65% unfavourable rating for Trump flipped in early August to produce a 57% rating in his favour. Similarly, a Fox News poll previously finding that 59% of Republicans would never vote for Trump, has since seen that figure fall to 33%. Trump has not toned down his approach, but his popularity is steadily rising.

He holds an appeal to a dangerously large American population and is a living, breathing caricature; one who demands the attention of the public. The publicity his campaign has received, be it good or bad, has given Trump the edge over other Republican candidates. His views are so simplistic and extreme that in the eyes of some voters, they represent an achievable future.

Trump’s appeal to right wing, dizzyingly wealthy voters is understandable. They are looking for a president with similar views and more importantly, similar interests, such as preserving their own wealth and reducing government interference in the economy. While the support of the powerful and influential is a huge boost to Trump’s campaign, the real threat will lie in his ability to win over the affections of the middle class.  

The New York Times attempts to explain Trump’s growing appeal to the average citizen: “His seizing on trade and immigration in this campaign has allowed Mr. Trump to tap into the economic anxieties of American workers who have lost out in the global economy, and to capitalize on nativist fears.” History has shown that dramatic discourse and fear mongering can hold a huge influence over voters, and this is exactly what Trump is hoping will happen. For every few of us who laugh at his exaggerated and often untrue claims, there is another who takes these subversive comments on board.

Though the thought of Donald Trump as president may be laughable, his progress in this campaign is nothing to joke about. As the rest of the world watches, helplessly captivated by the events that will unfold over the coming year, one can only hope that more people like Salma Hayek speak out and bring the majority to their senses. On the topic of Donald Trump, she says to the L.A. Times:

“…I see through the manipulation. We have something to learn from this. That is that the educated people or the people with great human values have to wake up, because they are under the illusion that most of this country is like them and sometimes they don’t even go to vote.”

American voters need to stop teasing the threat that looms before them and instead face the very real danger Trump represents.  Laughing at the ignorant attempts of a man vying for power is all well and good, but unless informed voters actually show up to the polls, it will indeed be Donald who trumps us all.