When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the US Presidency on 16 June 2015, most people dismissed him as an ‘also ran’ and nobody from among the intelligentsia pictured Trump as a serious contender; he was dismissed as a comical character who could best distract.
Since June, however, Trump has headlined a major campaign and with less than a month left before the Republican primaries, Trump is currently leading his party in the polls. The refrain now is “Trump can defeat Hillary Clinton." This despite his so called racist and bigoted comments.
Two questions arise at this point of time for any observer of international politics:
* How can a person like Donald Trump be a frontrunner in the elections of a country which prides itself for its democracy and equality?
* Can Donald Trump win the election and sit as President in November 2016?
The answers to these questions lie in the race environment in the USA.
The fact is that despite of the Civil Rights movement and Barack Obama's election in 2008, racism is still very much present in the US. But it must be understood that despite this the African-American community is better off today than it was decades ago. In addition Anti-Black sentiment has greatly decreased since the 1960s.
This anti-black sentiment is replaced by anti-immigration. Despite the country's reputation as a nation of immigrants the Obama administration's efforts to rehabilitate illegal immigrants has become a cardinal part of the campaign of Donald Trump and blaming immigrants (Mexicans and Muslims in particular) for America's economic doldrums have been the core themes of his campaign. In this he is helped by unemployment, national debt and popular disillusionment among many Americans. The Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shooting have attracted their own pound of flesh.
Trump's rise is thus due to what the Americans want to hear and that is that economic stagnation and immigrants (mainly Muslims) and Democrats are linked and responsible for all of America's problems. This was made possible by the increasing political polarization of American society in the past decade,
As for the second question on Trump's electoral credibility, there is a high probability that he will be the Republican nominee for President. He has brilliantly pandered to the Republican vote banks. Not since the 1940s has any US Presidential candidate headed into the Primaries with such high support. By branding Obama a "Kenyan" and a "Muslim" and anybody who was pro-Democrat as anti-America, the Grand Old Party stole the thunder.
Trump need not be sneered at and there is a chance that he may well beat Hillary, who looks stale and jaded and has nothing to offer. Trump perhaps has got the beats right and may very well change the politics of the world