Trump tears up the political rulebook

" Donald Trump " ( CC BY-SA 2.0 ) by  Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump, they say, is changing the face of American politics. The outspoken property billionaire’s flair for the outrageous and the provocative have, in the space of just a few short campaigning months, changed the American political consciousness forever. The country that once gave us Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as shining political lights is now seeing its proud tradition of rational, intellectually and morally robust democratic principle overwhelmed by something altogether less substantial.

The Trump Effect

The widely reported  Trump effect  is claimed to have not only given the Republican party’s presumptive nominee for the presidency an astonishingly high public profile, it has also prompted unparalleled levels of fear and anxiety for those who do not fall within his core, white, working class demographic. Trump is perhaps the  most divisive presidential candidate ever : 67% of Americans are said to take a negative view of him. Yet his appeal to Republican voters continues to rise.

Whatever the merits of such statistics, it is beyond doubt that trump has made himself hard to ignore. His early campaign speeches showed him to be untouched by the restrictions of conventional political campaigning.

Flattery by impersonation

" London Mayor Boris Johnson " ( CC BY 2.0 ) by  David Holt London

And such is Trump’s profile that his techniques have been adopted elsewhere. In London, Boris Johnson’s seemingly off-hand quip equating the EU to the ambitions of Adolf Hitler was a clearly calculated attempt to create the same sort of counter-cultural media storm. It  didn’t quite work  for London’s former Lord Mayor - a maverick right winger who has much in common with Trump - but that just goes to show how extraordinarily singular the Trump campaign has been. How he has got so far so quickly really does defy all political logic.

Extraordinary attention

A measure of just how weirdly compelling Trump’s personal appeal remains is offered by bookmakers Paddy Power who, under their  political betting  banner are offering - along with bets on the respective parties’ nominations and candidates for the vice presidency - a range of bets on the size of Trump’s manhood. The website offers the disclaimer that “Bets will be void if it is not revealed by end of 2016”.

In what other election for office in an advanced democratic nation would such a proposition even be considered? The simple answer is that it wouldn’t.

Donald Trump doesn’t operate on the same terms as conventional politicians. Therein lies both his appeal and what some would see as his threat. In London, Boris Johnson might point out that the political landscape of 1930s Germany was redrawn by an unconventional and divisive figure with a spectacular talent for self-promotion and national aggrandisement.

Vanessa Coleman

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