By Kumar Ritwik (Year I)
The fact that ongoing politics in the United States of America not only directly invokes political responses from leaders around the globe, but also shakes entire political systems, especially in the case of Middle East countries, is proof enough of how much significance is accorded to this particular country and its political events. Although I completely dislike the amount of influence that the US holds over countries in different parts of the world, it is a fact that their politics generates an inordinate amount of interest, while simultaneously creating a lot of buzz, throughout the election year. From the primaries for candidacy of the two major sides: the Democrats and the Republicans, to the election campaign of the Office of the President, the amount of attention that the entire event gets is in no manner less, perhaps even more, than the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup.
Unlike other times, when the focus and interest generated was due to the enthusiastic campaign of a particular leader, or the mere excitement of knowing who the next leader of the self-proclaimed ‘global superpower’ would be, the buzz this time paints a rather gloomy picture. Millions of people are glued to the ongoing campaign, worried over the fact that a man in serious contention and on verge of securing a Presidential nomination from the Republican Party is someone whose only substantial foreign policy statement has been that he would ‘stand up against China’ and ‘teach the ISIS a lesson’. With absolutely no technical knowledge of how the administration works, Donald Trump has been consistently avoiding questions that relate to the issue of governance and domestic economic policies. With outrageous statements pointing at the Muslim community and labelling 27% of them as ‘very militant’, the billionaire’s campaign has largely focused on vying for attention by virtue of such comments and staying in the news constantly. Surprisingly, it has yielded results for him considering the fact that so many supporters and influential personalities have come out in his support. Certain media reports also go on to give a clear assessment of how he has successfully made huge profits to his business ventures by merely holding a brand building exercise through such a campaign for the Office of the President.
While Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal had to withdraw before the serious primaries, their campaign ending entirely due to their mismanagement and incompetence of cashing in on their potential voter base, I would credit (what is now being referred to as) the ‘Trump juggernaut’ for completely demolishing the Rick Santorum and Ben Carson campaigns with his constant jibes and statements targeting the two in absolute public view, much before the important Iowa Caucuses came into the picture. The attack from Trump’s side was so scathing that it compelled Carson to withdraw from the race and eventually even back his candidature with a statement supporting his ‘strong intent to make America great again’.
The most shocking fact was that the more serious and seemingly sensible contenders – like Jeb Bush – with past experiences of administration and a more practical view of what could possibly shape the future US foreign policy were not backed enough by a divided Republican camp in lieu of the challenge that an ‘outsider’ was posing. And one would be making a huge mistake by merely thinking of it as a challenge to the current establishment of the Republican Party; for it is also a huge challenge to its existence as a formidable opposition to the Democrats – who clearly have an upper hand in the particular Election, irrespective of a Sanders surprise coming in, or a more-likely Clinton candidacy.
Instead of rallying behind a particular person from the establishment who could have posed a serious contest to trump, the biggest mistake of the divided Republicans was to take his campaign too lightly and instead focus on their individual interests. And it is not as if the establishment did not have enough choices or chances to do so; a clear and safe bet for them could have been Marco Rubio – whose campaign came to a disappointing halt just a month ago, after a dismal loss in his home state of Florida. Someone with a narrative of how his poor Cuban parents were fortunate and determined enough to fight against all odds and shape their destiny in their new home, would have not only connected to the Republican conservative vote bank, given his stand on abortion, but would also have had a great chance at swinging the more liberal Democrat-oriented voters of the country. Now that they have realised what a blunder that was, there is nothing short of a magical turn of events that can prevent Trump from getting a nomination. That freak turn of events could possibly come up in the form of Kasich (still hanging at 148 delegates) who would most likely get the support of Rubio’s 169 delegates that can now choose to vote for Kasich, Trump or Cruz (contingent on the state law).
This past week has given us a Cruz-Kasich alliance, with both coming to an understanding to hold Trump at bay by focusing their own campaigns on different states during the round of primaries. Apart from that, only a contested convention can come into the picture provided that the pact between long-time rivals Kasich and Cruz works with the populace of New Mexico, Oregon and Indiana; and there is another bizarre turn of events in Pennsylvania which is known for its state delegates turning to the other side at any given point in time. The outgoing Speaker has gone on record to express his opinions on getting a contested convention in case of Trump falling short of the necessary numbers, and also going for an absolutely new face, since the delegates would have completely rejected all options for a Republican candidacy before them.
It would be interesting to watch how things unfold in the next couple of months. By the time we near our end-semester examinations, I expect the civilians of the United States to exercise their choice of voting carefully to deny the possibility of any catastrophe from happening in case of a Trump candidacy from the Republican side. Furthermore, I hope that the state delegates would use their powers in the right capacity so as to ensure the mere existence of the Republicans as a credible opposition, since the possibility of them securing power seems almost impossible. Let us not make a fool of ourselves, dear Republicans?