I've been watching developments concerning Donald Trump with great interest for several weeks. He's clearly picked up a following among those who are simply fed up with 'politics as usual'. What's intriguing is that they're on both sides of the political aisle. I know a couple of local voters, both trade unionists and - until recently - died-in-the-wool Democrats. They'd never even have considered voting Republican, and if they had, they'd have immediately taken themselves off to a psychiatrist for examination. Now, however, they're both solidly behind Trump. As one of them said to me the other day, "Democrats talk the talk, but as soon as the election's over they won't walk the walk. The party owns them. Nobody owns this guy. He can't be bought."
That, I think, is a key point. Trump is wealthy in his own right. He can fund his own presidential campaign to the tune of one or even two billion dollars, and not miss it. All the other candidates are dependent on fund-raising and on support from their political parties.
That also holds implications for his conduct in office, should he be elected. He won't have to rely for re-election on the support of his party in Congress or the Senate. He can put his positions out there, and demand that the legislature support them. If they don't, that's their right; but he, in turn, will be free to veto their legislation. If they can amass the necessary super-majority, they can overturn his veto; but given the present friction between Democrats and Republicans, I suspect Trump might be gambling that he'll be able to prevent them uniting against him. I'd say he may have a point.
As for the election . . . let's say the "anybody but Trump" brigade triumphs in the Republican Party, and manages to nominate a different candidate to represent the party. If Trump's not happy with the way the 'establishment' has treated him, or the tactics it used to undermine and defeat his candidacy, he's already stated that he reserves the right to run independently. Some have seen that as 'doing a Perot': taking enough votes away from the Republican candidate to hand victory to the Democratic Party candidate, as happened with Clinton in 1992. However, I think they might be surprised.
I'm seeing enough support for Trump among both Republicans and Democrats - particularly the 'little guys', those without much individual political influence but who have great power if they work together. I'm not so sure that Trump couldn't scrape together enough votes to defeat both the Democratic and the Republican candidates. Wouldn't that just put the fox in the henhouse?
As for myself . . . I haven't yet made my mind up. I won't, until much closer to the election, when the candidates have been winnowed down and their respective positions have become clearer. Nevertheless, I'm constantly aware of two things.
- Anyone who can put both political establishments, Democratic and Republican, into a tizzy can't be all bad.
- Anyone who's united the mainstream media into trying to tear him down has got to have a lot of good points going for him. As Wicasta Lovelace put it:
"You can always judge a man not by his friends, but by the quality of his enemies. A good man will never have enemies who are anything but petty and childish. A bad man will have enemies that are legion. Who it is that dislikes a man reveals much about the man himself."
You can bet those considerations will remain uppermost in my mind. I suspect they will for a lot of people in November 2016.