Trump card against professional politician holds lessons for India
By TSR Subramanian | Published: 30th October 2016 05:45 AM |
In another week or so, we would know who the 45th President of the US will be. The pre-poll predictions in general in the US are much more accurate than in India—Hillary Clinton is tipped to be the next incumbent; the margins in the polls she enjoys are much larger than in many previous contests. But, will this actually happen? Will Donald Trump make a
last-minute surge? Is there a quiet support for him which will manifest itself decisively, come polling day?
Recall this year’s Brexit poll surprise. Very few predicted the final result for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union—a major hidden factor suddenly manifested itself. The resentment of the elderly segment of the English population to the increasing presence of the upwardly mobile Serbs and the Slovaks and their likes in the suburban peaceful countryside of England was surely a factor—a surprising number of senior citizens turned up to give a thumping ‘no’ to a growing influx of ‘foreigners’ infesting their rural environs. Is there a similar subterranean sentiment brewing in the US against the Mexicans, Chinese, Indians and other immigrants, legal or otherwise, encroaching on their suburban settlements?
Trump has nakedly targeted the white Anglo-Saxon audience, reminding them that their ‘American way of life’ is under threat—“I will make America great again.” This is the theme in the dust-bowl states in the middle of US—the Clevelands and the Detroits—which have lost their factories to Mexico, China and other far-off countries. That America was built by the immigrants in the last two centuries counts no more—this at least is Trump’s calculation. Many close observers feel that he is addressing a strong hidden sentiment in the white American’s psyche—
we will know soon whether he
This has been an extremely controversial presidential election campaign—the decibel levels have been high, the personal attacks vicious. Trump was charged with gender misdemeanours, questioning his ‘morality’, abounding with allegations of groping. His response: “My ‘boy’s talk’ has been misquoted; allegations are untrue; I will sue those who attack me—where is the proof?” His additional salvo: “The shoe is on the other foot; who was the President who spoke to Prime Ministers and Senators while in the White House, while in a compromising position with an intern?—don’t compare proven facts
with wild allegations!” It remains to be seen what support Hillary will receive as the prospective first female President of the US from the women there. Also, will the American female condemn the alleged peccadillos of Trump at the polling booth? Hillary’s open accusation of the business ethics of Trump was unmistakably hostile in clarity—the response from Trump was equally brutal: he was actually heard in a national debate with Hillary, in a loud stage whisper—“what a nasty woman she is”.
It is necessary to comment on one aspect of the campaign, not addressed by most observers—this relates to a direct attack by Trump on the ‘political class’. Since the advent of the Westminster model of democracy, the politician has been seen as the prime mover of governance and administration in European countries and subsequently in the US. It was accepted that it was the job of the politician to run the country. While the political class in the US was the subject of general ridicule and the object of derision in every comic talk show, the respect for the President, the Governor and the Senator was an integral part of the system. Nobody questioned the legitimacy or the appropriateness of the politician to be in charge of the country’s affairs to be the ultimate custodian of national and public interest.
A new feature of the current US campaign is the approach of Trump questioning the competence of the professional politician to run the country. This is an extremely important development, which needs to be seen in the proper perspective. Against the charge that Trump has no public service experience, his clear answer is that Hillary’s experience consists of damaging the country’s interest, mainly because as a professional politician she knows only politics, knows only to utter lies and make promises, with no intention of implementing anything that is stated in the election campaign.
Trump asserts that Hillary’s ‘experience’ is a strong factor that will go against the national interest; by contrast, he knows the economy, business, job creation and can be trusted with the citizen’s welfare —this is a strong implicit theme in his campaign. At any rate, this is a new dimension in the Western democracy—one has to see if the sentiment will grow overtime. It also needs to be added that there is a strong lesson in this for India —the question needs to be asked seriously, whether the Indian politician at the state and district level is fit to lead the country or should we think of variants to this model?
The US presidential election campaign has been a forgettable one. America has lost much in tone and content in it. In a sense, the Indian could see a reflection of itself in the US discourse.
Former Cabinet Secretary of India