Why Donald Trump is the Y2K problem of US politics

Published May 3, 2016
US presidential front-runner Donald Trump. — Photo by AP
US presidential front-runner Donald Trump. — Photo by AP

Donald Trump is making huge waves in the US electoral process. The media loves his outrageous statements like a Kim Kardashian selfie.

Democrats hate him and Republicans get nightmares when they imagine him being the nominee on their ticket.

Extremists around the world are anxiously waiting for Trump to prove all the "US hates us" rhetoric they have been spewing for years.

The world is watching with a guilty pleasure the train wreck that US politics has become.

The Y2K problem

Despite all the fear that surrounds his personality, Trump is nothing more than the Y2K problem of US politics.

Remember Y2K? At the end of the last millennium, some experts feared that the computers of that time were designed to handle only two digits in the date column, and that the beginning of a new century would disrupt computer systems around the world.

The fear was genuine and quickly became a mass-scale hysteria. People were afraid that everything they know as part of a civilisation would come to an end. Flights would collide mid-air, stock markets would crash, emergency medical equipment would fail and pizza ovens would churn out uncooked dough.

Companies purchased millions of dollars worth software, travellers cancelled airplane tickets, families stocked emergency kits and a lot of people stayed indoors in the safety of their homes.

All that fear mongering...and the phase passed away without any incident.

The same can be attributed to the fear which is rampant with Trump running as a candidate for the US presidency.

Take a look: Trump nightmare

He is a demagogue. A true demagogue uses people's hopes and fears for his own political advantage.

Americans are still reeling from the post 9/11 trauma with ideology-based terrorist events occurring sporadically on their soil. A lot of them are concerned about the cross-border infiltration of Mexicans, Cubans and other illegal immigrants who, according to them, bring drugs, violence and economic instability to their country.

Some feel the US economy isn't prospering, and that perhaps America is losing its position in the world arena.

Trump has promised them a remedy to all these problems. But he has infuriated a vast segment of the American population with his outrageous statements and positions on issues.

The real surprise is the Republican Party, several of whose members share opinions similar to Trump’s in matters like having a small government, social reunions, immigration reforms, medicare and internal security regime.

But it’s not difficult to understand why the Republican party's leaders don’t trust him. He has been a Democrat all his life and which is why to them he looks more like a wolf in sheep skin. They believe he is just using the right tunes to get Republican crowds behind himself, and aren’t sure what he is going to do if elected to office.

Naturally, the Republican establishment wants a guy from within their own ranks and files to be in the nomination seat. But Trump, a relative outsider, has triumphed in the presidential primaries and there seems to be no way of stopping him.

His rivals in the nomination race, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, have joined hands to deny him a majority before the Republican convention scheduled for July this year.

See: Trump worse than Voldemort, says J.K. Rowling

Generally speaking, a person who has gained a majority in the primaries wins the convention as well but in some cases, like the 1948 convention, surprises happen.

Unlike the primaries, a convention is decided by delegates from across the country who choose the candidate they have pledged to support in the primaries. But there is a lot of debate as to what Republican party rules will allow and not allow in the convention. As of now, it is trying to limit Trump's influence in the convention.

We might see a "Brokered Convention" where delegates can choose practically any candidate they want notwithstanding the results of the primaries. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Paul Ryan are Republican hotshots hoping for such a miracle to happen.

There may have been some initial appeal in Trump's message but over the passage of time, a majority of the Americans have rejected that message. This has a lot to do with how the American society has evolved over the years. Civilisations are like people; they make mistakes and they learn from those mistakes.

There is much left to be desired when it comes to America and secular democratic ideals, but giving credit where it's due, the fact is that they have made definitive progress on this front.

Almost a century ago, American women did not have the right to vote. Now they have a female frontrunner in the election.

Half a century ago, they did not allow coloured people to drink from white fountains. Now the country's sitting president is an African American.

A decade and a half ago, a teenager was lynched because he was gay. Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples can wed anywhere in the country.

There are many things they have learned, some half-heartedly, others etched deep. The most critical being their intolerance as a nation towards bigotry and discrimination. This is not to say that some individuals still don't subscribe to bigotry.

Trump has used the Republican rhetoric to his own advantage. He is divisive, rude and his statements are over-the-top, which moderate Republicans are refusing to adhere to.

They are fighting back his initial onslaught and there is an attempt to stop him in the tracks. But will they succeed? And if not, will the American people vote him in?

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