In a shocking turn of events, Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States. Allow me to explain both the sarcasm and the sincerity behind this sentence. First, I want to note that Trump has led virtually every poll since July and has held a commanding lead in delegates for the entire duration of the primary season. Trump’s status as an overwhelming frontrunner has been established for at least six months, for those willing to recognize it.
Since his announcement, Trump has dominated the attention of the media, as well as the public. In a sense, he is the logical culmination of the Obama presidency. For eight years, many conservatives have built up a tribal opposition to Obama, extending beyond any specific policies. This rage has finally found the perfect vessel in Trump, one of the most prominent advocates of the Birther movement. It is an unfortunate fact that Trump has embraced the racial undercurrents of American politics, but it cannot be ignored.
More generously, Trump does appeal to a broader narrative of decline — stagnating wages, rising debt and industrial decline. When he talks about difficult economic adjustments to trade, and the struggles of the middle class, it resonates. In light of these changes there has been a growing divide between the Republican orthodoxy of small government conservatism and the voting members of the Republican Party. By realizing that most Republicans didn’t really care about shrinking government, Trump deftly focused on a populist, cultural message. It’s one that his voters have been waiting to hear.
What should continue to shock us, however, is that Trump could actually win the White House. Disregard the fact that he is robustly incapable of the job — millions of his supporters already have. Ignore, too, the polls that show him dramatically losing to both Democratic candidates. If I had to bet, I predict that these are ultimately correct, and he will lose in a landslide. Yet I don’t believe in gambling away the presidency, especially not to someone who has proven himself to be incredibly dangerous. Trump’s utter lack of knowledge, mendacious tendencies and angry temperament are intolerable on their own. Combined with his racist, xenophobic and sexist views, it becomes a nightmare.
If you accept my premise — that Donald Trump would be a uniquely unacceptable president — I think it behooves you to stay politically engaged. This is going to be a long, long summer. Outrageous headlines, constant stories about slight polling changes, and nonsensical punditry will be everywhere. Not much can be gained from CNN’s countdowns to a countdown of the beginning of coverage. It will be tempting, at times, to check out of the process. Don’t.
A lot, after all, could change by November. See if Trump attempts to moderate his positions — or if he doubles down on his extreme stances. When you’re feeling apathetic, perhaps because your preferred candidate is not the Democratic nominee, I urge you to seriously compare Trump and the Democrat. Remember that not everyone has the privilege of waiting out a President Trump. His policies on health care, climate change, immigration and foreign policy can all cause lasting damage in just four years. The starkest statement of these differences will likely be on display at each party’s national convention in July. I encourage everyone to carefully pay attention to these events.
These conventions are important as a reminder that Trump does not exist by himself. In 2016, he is the standard bearer for the entire Republican Party. Candidates for every office in the country — governor, senator, representative, state senator and more, are ready to implement Trump’s agenda. Even if he doesn’t win the White House, the voice of Trump could continue to echo in the halls of Congress. You don’t have to look far to find examples.
Even right here in Ithaca, we are represented by a Congressman who has proudly endorsed Trump. Indeed, Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) apparently sees no issue with Trump’s virulent attacks on women, Latinos and Muslims. If we are horrified by Trump, we are also compelled to be horrified by the many allies that have enabled his rise. Let’s not wait until the Fall — double meaning intended — to point out who they are.
So this is where we are. Donald Trump is actually going to be on the ballot, on November 8th, for President of the United States, According to recent reports, he will soon obtain classified intelligence briefings to prepare him for the job. Republicans continue to control both chambers of Congress, allowing a potential President Trump to quickly implement his proposals. To many of us, this is terrifying. For millions of Trump supporters, it is beyond exciting. They’re ready to get to work for Trump. Are you ready to stop him?
Kevin Kowalewski is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Democratic Dialogue appears alternate Thursdays this semester.