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Opinions of Monday, 7 March 2016

Columnist: Amuna, Paul

Why we shouldn't allow the chickens to “come home to roost” in our politics

Why We Should Not Allow the Chickens to “Come Home to Roost” in Our Politics Part I
Paul Amuna

This is a two-part article

In this 2016 election cycle, there is typically a lot of muck and mud being thrown about, lies and damned lies being peddled as the ‘truth’ and outrageous statements, claims and counter claims which when checked, do not bear out with the facts and / or are downright fraudulent but who really cares?

Before I turn my attention to the ‘home front’, let me start by examining what is happening elsewhere, particularly in the United States where one man’s ‘experiment’ with the American electorate is turning heads worldwide, as much as it has exposed the weakness of the party structure, hierarchy and central control within the Republican Party in particular. It is Donald J. Trump, the New York billionaire who made his fortunes from the family Real Estate business. That a ‘thin-skinned’ egotistical and chauvinistic billionaire can take the whole American opposition party to ransom and attract so much attention, column inches and free advertising for his political campaign is mind boggling. It also underscores the fact that the Republican Party as it stands is extremely weak, and has lost its way and is almost completely out of touch with reality and the US electorate.

The grave irony is that whilst a “Washington Outsider” like Mr. Donald J. Trump (as he often refers to himself) has gained such prominence, popularity and certainly attracts the ‘crowds’ to his rallies; and whilst he has soared in the polls and won most of the contests of the Republican Primary Choosing contests to date (he has won 9 out of 15 State Primaries and Caucuses to date), he has done so, spending less money, with very little real policy substance to speak of including a rehashing and merger of current Republican and Democratic health care plans for example, and making the most outrageous statements that for example Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president in 2012 could never get away with. It has been argued for instance that one of the major defining moments of Romney’s campaign leading to his eventual downfall was his characterisation of the “other 47 per cent of Americans” who would not vote for him – referring to African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, low-aid and not well educated people etc.

What do we have this time? DJ Trump has attacked everyone from Muslims to women, Mexicans, the disabled and what have you. He has even had the audacity to attack the Pope (and by extension, other religious leaders) when the Pope in typical fashion, and not specifically seeking to delve into US politics (although the silly American Media interpreted it as such) characterised people who build, rather than tearing down walls, and who threaten to expel millions of people as “non-Christian”. What the average American politician is ignorant of is that the Pope has had a say and e.g. condemned Europe for their treatment of refugees and even visited them, he has a view on Climate Change and the need to do something about it, something that mainstream US Republican Party vehemently opposes, and often speaks on issues around poverty, inequality and the need for a rebalancing of the distribution of wealth and if you like, ‘ a leg up’ for the poor and vulnerable to reach their God-given talents. The irony is that the “American Right” and quite a number of so-called “Christian Conservatives” happen to believe Trump’s messages on all these subjects, otherwise why would they come out and vote for him in States where he has done better than the so-called “conservative candidates” and the so-called “establishment candidates” whom he has belittled and called all sorts of names? Contrast Trump’s instant reaction to Pope Francis’ statement with his reaction when asked to respond to his endorsement by David Duke, erstwhile leader of the Ku Klux Klan – he was going to “do research on the group before he could disavow or condemn them”. How very telling!

DJ Trump stubbornly refuses to condemn and / or distance himself from right-wing, extremist white supremacists when he is given FIVE chances to do so on CNN. Trump knows the name of David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader, and he certainly knows the name, Ku Klux Klan. Yet his explanation for not instantly “disavowing” Duke when asked, was that first, he did not know which groups the interviewer was referring to, when told they had pledged their support for him, then he did not know David Duke. Day’s later, he tried to explain the situation by saying that CNN, the news network had given him “bad ear pieces” during the interview and he could “not hear properly” what he was being asked. Yet in the same interview, he repeated the name, David Duke, and said he had to research on him or the group they were referring to!! That such a BIG FAT LIE can be allowed, and that Trump can go on to win 7 more States in the Republican Primaries on the so-called Super Tuesday on 1st March is beyond incomprehensible to ordinary mortals like you and I looking in from the outside.

The reaction of the world’s media and political commentators outside of the United States is that as the reality dawns that this man could become the next president of the United States, people from Japan to Europe, to The Middle East, to Africa, Asia and China, can only see an uncertain future in global détente and diplomacy. It would be interesting to see what the financial markets make of all the this, the “Day After”. In the United States, what Trump’s ascendency has done is suddenly ‘wake up’ the so-called custodians of the Grand Old Party (GOP) or the Republican Party, but rather than identify a strong and unifying candidate to rally around, they are in complete disarray because as some commentators within their own party have acknowledged, you simply cannot use the establishment machinery to dislodge this juggernaut of a bully. You can only defeat him at the polls and that is simply not happening at the moment, and it does not seem to be happening any time soon. My own advice to the GOP is therefore to have a dose of reality, come to terms with this reality and find another way of either containing the man or ‘if you can’t beat him, bite your tongue and join his train’ before it leaves you behind. In my view the failure of the GOP to perform their duty of service to the American people has now allowed the ‘chicken to come home to roost within their own ranks, whether they accept this fact or not. Whilst they have been busy trying to discredit and bring down a two-time and popular elected president, they forgot something fundamental – finding the right person and preparing that person and ensuring discipline within the party to get that person elected. This to me is a spectacular failure of leadership, something the Republican Party is quick to accuse the current president and his government of lacking – how very ironic and pathetic!

Sad and disheartening as this may seem, America is waking up to the reality that they have in their midst many people who believe in, and support what DJ Trump is saying and doing. Let no one be deceived. Trump’s rise and his near xenophobic, populist sayings and declarations are ‘common talk’ in the closets and homes of a whole swathe of millions of people who in their own closets at least think, if not audibly voice out these same feelings, thoughts and actions for the sake of ‘political correctness’. Some of his supporters will tell you, “he is telling the truth and says it as it is”. These are people who themselves are not bold enough to say such things, and in the way that he puts it. He is now their voice, their spokesman, their leader-in-waiting.

The truth is, Donald Trump’s political opponents have been weak and amateurish for the most part, and have allowed him to bully them. They have been falling apart and by the way side as they try to take him on. This is the same man who, with such a thin skin, could simply not stand the scrutiny of a Fox News female panellist in the very first debate of the process when Mergyn Kelly (no fan of mine) pointedly asked him questions based on his own record, statements and positions on certain issues. He took offence, was rattled, and has ever since never forgiven the journalist!!! He even tried to get Fox News to stand her down in one of the debates which they refused to do, and he then refused to take part. Now, if this singular act of a female journalist, taking Trump on, on the issues and facts and focusing on his own record can rattle this man and tear him apart, why on earth have his own competitors, most of whom pretend to be professional politicians, failed to do just that? Furthermore, if this is the attitude of the man who wants to be the leader of the ‘free world’ and a world leader, that he cannot accept genuine and fair scrutiny, and cannot tolerate those who question his own record and integrity, is it not grossly hypocritical of the American electorate to even think or believe that such a man would be a good president, let alone solve their problems and “make America great again”?

Trump can say the outrageous things he says, and can insult whomsoever he chooses, even the Pope because some rich billionaires like him, who feel they are self-made, simply do not respect anybody, regardless. When his wife ventured on the media interview stage and was asked about his attitude, she simply said, “well, I tell him about some of these things all the time, but he will always do what he wants”. This is the same man who tries to tell us all how ‘nice’ he is, and now he is telling the Republican Party, “I am a unifier”. In other words, come join me and trust me, I will bring this party together and perhaps even the whole country. That would be the day …..

Look out for the concluding part (Part II) of this article.

The author, Dr. Paul Amuna is a regular contributor to political dialogue and an advocate of political integrity and national development built on good governance and respect for the constitution, inclusiveness, mutual respect without regard, and a multi-partisan approach to nation building.