Trumping the odds

July 22, 2016 01:25 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:02 pm IST

>Donald Trump is the Republican Party nominee for the November presidential election. This has brought cheer to the great many conservative Americans who voted for him in the primaries. It has also caused a ripple of consternation among his detractors within the Grand Old Party and his Democratic opponents, many among who are possibly still in a state of disbelief that the real estate mogul trounced as many as 16 rivals and scored resounding primaries victories in 37 States. >The GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio, was symbolic of the state of this race. A number of party heavyweights stayed away from the festivities, with some saying they had to go fly fishing, and others to mow their lawns. Their implied distaste for the apotheosis of Mr. Trump has been a consistent theme of the election season this year, and it reflects a deep fracture between the Republican leadership and the mass base. Many attribute the rise and rise of Mr. Trump to the party’s subtle pandering to racist claims that emerged early in his campaign. >Mr. Trump’s most vitriolic statements have targeted minorities including Muslims, Mexicans, women, the LGBT community and the differently abled, not to mention the media. How much did Republican heavyweights speak out against, say, his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.?

This week those very same Republican bosses who remained silent as a wave of conservative support aligned itself with the base values of one man must find themselves in a political terrain that feels like quicksand. On the one hand, they watched tacitly as their party’s nominee positioned himself in the hateful corners of the far-right. On the other, there is a deep irony in the fact that many rank-and-file Republicans, for example those who subscribe to the minimum-government agenda of the Tea Party, distrust Mr. Trump and believe he is a liberal who spent his time in corporate America getting Democrats elected. This cohort, as well as Democrats and many outside America, believe that Mr. Trump has at best a rudimentary understanding of domestic and foreign policy. Domestically, could a man who has a wink-and-nod policy towards attacks on African-Americans, one who equated Mexicans to drug dealers and rapists, be made responsible for healing the chasm between overzealous armed police and fearful racial minorities? Abroad, could a man who has promised to “bomb the hell out of” the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq be handed launch codes of the most fearsome nuclear arsenal in the world? Unless the United States has unshakeable faith in the capabilities of such a man, it had better spend the next few months casting about for alternative choices.

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