Trump is a dangerous fool, but is Hillary any better?

Where the one is seen as a tactless, foul-mouthed oaf, the other is seen as a dishonest, fence-sitting political salvage

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Tijan Jens

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took monumental steps towards clinching the Democratic and Republican party tickets respectively, to battle it out for the most powerful seat in the globe in the November 8 presidential elections.

Trump won in key states in the March 15 primaries such as Illinois, the home state of US President Barrack Obama, North Carolina and Florida – where he also floored home state Senator Marco Rubio, who immediately bolted out of the race.

But for Trump, the victories gave him more grease to continue rolling the wheel ahead of the November polls. “This was an amazing evening. We’re going to win, win, win and we’re not stopping,” the charging 69-year-old real estate magnate told AFP.

However, as much as Trump is the overwhelming favourite to land the Republican ticket, the possibility that he could be the next US President has caused jitters not just in his party but in the US body politic, as well as in the international arena.

You see, Trump has been brazen in his campaign, exciting supporters while confounding critics and the liberals alike. His rhetoric has rubbed many the wrong way and Rubio’s loss was a major setback for the clique of Republicans trying to stop Trump, whose populist anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim stance, they fear, will split the party.

Trump is on record disparaging the migrant communities, more so the Latinos and the migrant Africans. His threat to stop Muslims from moving to the US, his threat to deport Africans and his unrelenting call to build a wall along the border of the US and “our good neighbours the Mexicans” has caused loud murmurs and much tension between the two countries.

Historically, the US is deemed great because of its uniqueness. No nation on the globe boasts of the multi-cultural pluralism that the US does. Jews, Germans, Irish, Russians, Africans, Latinos, Arabs all call it home. And because of their diversity and talents in various spheres, fused together over the ages and backed by a working system and successive regimes which have been all too keen to get the best of what they have, America has stood head and shoulder above other nations so much so that when it sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.

And now matters have been made more difficult that with the looming departure of Barack Obama from his White House address. The “fine gentleman of politics” may be succeeded by a rather rash, bareknuckle conservative in Trump, who may jeopardise the US-G7 relations, US-Mexico ties and, of course the US-Africa relations.

Obama, before his ascension to the Oval Office, made it clear that he would take a more liberal-diplomatic prong approach in dealing with word issues, particularly the threat of nuclear weapons emerging from discontented countries like North Korea, as well as the economic threat his country faced from a re-emergent China. Unlike Obama, Trump is brazen, combative and wants matters addressed immediately and militarily. His combative approach and overbearing demeanour, it is feared, could not only make the US lose traditional allies but also leave it exposed both internally and externally.

In the 21st century, the re-emergence of an arms race fuelled by North Korea’s rebellion and insecurity and driven by terrorist groups such as ISIS in the Far East, Al-Shabaab in East Africa and Boko Haram in West Africa requires a multi-pronged approach to deal with. The leadership on this will come from the most powerful man on the earth – the US President– who must convince all nations to work together.

Parallels

However, with the Republicans not too comfortable with Trump leading the charge, it appears it could be too late to avoid him from earning the party’s nod to face off with Hillary Clinton. And whichever way it goes, the American people, and, of course, the international community, will usher in either an established Democratic insider in Clinton as the new tenant at White House or the gloating and showboating Trump. Either way, history will be made for, in my opinion, Trump, despite his financial muscle, would arguably go down in the annals of history as the most reckless candidate to have ever defended the flag of the Reds in a presidential race and probably taking it all the way to the White House, while Hillary will become the first woman occupant of the most powerful seat in the globe.

That said, the Blue States and the Red States have the voter lines clearly drawn for, as it is said in politics, it’s a game of numbers.

Trump, being too proud, may go ahead to choke the world with his overbearing personality and “know-it-all attitude”. It remains to be seen how great he will make America again, if and when he ascends to the throne, and how he will execute it.

Clinton on the other hand is no newcomer to politics. She has been a Democratic Party and Washington insider for decades. From being the country’s First Lady for eight years as well as serving as Cabinet Secretary and Senator, she is a battle-hardened politician with a wealth of experience under her belt. Besides that, in her husband, former President Bill Clinton, she has a sharp mind she can bank on as far as managing the electorate’s expectation is concerned, as well as manoeuvring her way in diplomatic tough waters.

Of interest to note though, is the fact that a recent survey by Quinnipiac University National found out that 60 percent of Americans find Hillary dishonest and untrustworthy.

This could stem from the fact that in the bruising 2007-2008 primaries in which she lost to the then Junior Illinois Senator, Barrack Obama, she strongly played the racial card and resisted attempts to drop out of the race even when it emerged that the young black man was flooring her.

Analysts also point out that should Clinton win the presidency, it will be all thanks to her main rival for the Democratic ticket, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders. Sanders has cut an image of a man focused on his avuncular style and cross-generational appeal rather than thorough inspections of his proposals or record. However, to give credit to the old man, his insurgency and dedication in the race has forced Clinton to change tack and abandon, one after the other, her key policies, so as to be seen to be reading from the same page as Sanders, who deeply embraces liberal ethos that endear him to the liberal American voter.

Protect Obama legacy

Clinton, for the record, has advocated for a more conservative international agenda and in some quarters is seen as fence sitter on burning issues. Her fear could stem from the fact that she does not want to scare off would-be potential voters. In practice, this approach is understandable in a delicate political game where numbers rule.

But whether she wholly drops her conservative international agenda and embraces a progressive mantle will be put to the fore once the primaries are over and the stage left to her to go neck and neck with a no holds barred Trump.

For Africa and its leaders, it still remains unclear what a Clinton presidency would herald. Her husband and ex-president Bill Clinton was at one time described as “the first black President” by the African-Americans owing to the sweeping favourable changes he instituted during his time at the Oval Office.

It is on this impeccable tract record that Obama wholeheartedly embraced the Clintons in the period preceding his own campaign. These ideals were deeply imbedded in a young Obama which he waxed with his own. It remains to be seen if Hillary will build on Obama’s record to win the hearts and souls of black voters. African and her leaders must take a keen interest in the race and pray that the votes go where their mouths really are.

Again, Hillary, as opposed to Sanders, has been keen to project herself as the real candidate who would protect the Obama legacy with the Vermont Senator initially throwing jabs at some of the Democratic polices under Obama. The extent, if any, to which this hurt his campaign will soon be clear.

The writer is a graduate of Political Science Public Administration from Moi University

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