As Donald Trump grumbles and rumbles to the U.S. Republican presidential nomination, perhaps it’s time to say the unspeakable: he deserves to win and is the right man for the job.
Before Canadians start rushing for the doors upon reading that statement, consider this:
The orange-tanned poster boy for bad hair has tapped into a living, pulsating stream of consciousness among many American voters that may not yet be completely sure itself over why it exists. But exist it does and its true name is anger.
Members of certain countries within the Caribbean Diaspora will understand because they have a unique perspective on these feelings of disappointment in elected governments because leaders in The Islands, influenced by well-connected groups and businesses, have shifted their policies and thus their countries in directions not necessarily in the best interests of most of their citizens.
Our southern neighbour can be hard to understand from a Canadian political point of view in our country born out of compromise and largely peaceful and slow development to full nationhood.
The U.S., on the other hand, was born of revolution. And revolution is what Trump is leading, although he, too, may not be entirely aware that’s the case.
This time it’s a revolution not fought against an overseas oppressor – although a tea party is again involved – nor is it fought with canons, sabres and muskets. The ammunition is votes, millions of them, cast by a populace fed up with big politics, big money and its muscle, big TV and radio ad campaigns and big interests, all now seen as oppressing Joe and Jill Average American.
Need a tonic for that? I’ve got just the thing, the snake oil salesmen who plied the U.S. hinterland said in the early days of the United States.
Showman and pitchman Trump and his TV shows and various high-profile businesses suggest that lineage but it goes beyond that to real substance, hard to define and slippery to nail down, but then the millionaire is right when he says he knows his way around money. And money, federal money for many in the U.S., means taxes and issues like big Wall Street bankers getting away with crippling the world economy and then reaping bonuses almost before the blood-red ink was dry. All while those in charge, from the president on down, turned a blind eye.
Meanwhile, Joe and Jill Average American lost homes, jobs and life savings.
Who wouldn’t be angry and willing to bet on the guy who is not beholden to big politics, big money, big ad campaigns and big interests? An eastern establishment high-roller, Trump is far from an average man but he connects honestly with that group and their anger and feelings of being taken for granted.
Added to that, they feel they know him from the reality entertainment realm of television, a segment of the medium that constantly excels in ratings.
Taken for granted is indeed what the average U.S. voter is with both Republicans and Democrats in Washington and state capitals slurping from the ever-refilled trough of special interests’ campaign dollars, coming often from people so far removed from everyday life that they might as well dwell on Mars.
As Trump storms across states building support in both primaries and caucuses, those remote special interests are panicking – typically, when a maverick surfaces, if you toss enough money at the favoured son (or daughter) running for the White House, they come out on top. Unorthodoxy is beating up orthodoxy.
The “peasants” are revolting. They’re taking up arms, or at least lifting them in fist-pumping salutes to Trump and keeping their electoral powder dry for that one crucial moment in a voting booth when they cast their vote for this new, brash and unpleasant non-politician who is playing the role of a bizarre General George Washington and who is beginning to look to them like the father of what they hope is their renewed country.
In November, it could well be Trump who is declared the winner, not at Yorktown as was Washington, but in the city that bears the much-loved first U.S. president’s name.
All (so far) without a shot being fired.
Brad Savage is the editor of The Caribbean Camera.