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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2615

The Phenomena of Trump and Sanders: personification of voter anger and disillusionment

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Both Donald J Trump and Bernie Sanders are riding on two diverging waves of popularity while tearing up the conventional book of western politics into pieces. The casualties, caught up in the trail of destruction, include the ‘establishment candidates’ of the respective parties, big-time donors, investment banks and above all the media, which was laid bare to its core to be exposed along with the questionable interest they represent.

Not only did their style of plain-speaking make the polished-oratory of the candidates, who usually brag about their association to the elitist educational institutions of the land, completely redundant, but also displayed how the very trait can be a suicidal hindrance in the event of being exposed in the full glare of publicity.

"A good speech should be like a woman's skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create an interest."

- Sir Winston Churchill -

The fiasco of Marco Rubio, the so-called darling of the Republican Party, at the hands of Chris Christie, the fellow presidential hopeful and the Governor of New Jersey, during the last major television debate prior to the New Hampshire primary is a case in point: up until then, Mr Rubio had been habitually uttering, ‘I don’t believe that President Obama does not know what he is doing; he knows exactly what he is doing,’ without knowing the potential in it to bore the intended audiences to the core.

At a heated moment, Chris Christie hit back at Marco Rubio, referring to the infamous quote: ‘There it is the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers have given him;’ it stunned Marco Rubio and the embarrassment quickly turned into its corresponding physical manifestation – profound sweating and mild, but obvious form of stuttering.

Marco Rubio never recovered from the debating debacle since then; at the New Hampshire polls, he did badly despite showing strong performance at the first primary in Iowa.

A serious politician without oratory is like Kim Kardashian without her anatomy below the hip. Unfortunately, good orators are not necessarily brilliant when it comes to delivering on promises - with a few exceptions.

President Clinton was a good orator and an intellectual. He knew what he was talking about and often with excellent historical anecdotes to make his point. He genuinely cared for the Americans, had a vision and finished the two terms, leaving behind a growing economy. He had a significant weakness – which we all know about – that did not hinder his ability to deliver on what he promised the nation in line with his political beliefs.

His spouse, however, could not cash in on the great family name to do the magic: she was compelled to rely on the laws of probability to win the first primary in Iowa with a wafer-thin margin, only to be defeated in a humiliating way by Bernie Sanders at New Hampshire primary.

Neither the throw of her right fist into thin air nor the militaristic speeches endeared her to the electorate in the two primaries. Despite standing on a feminist platform, her score for integrity and honesty among women was around dismal 10%; her alleged inability to wriggle out of the deep pockets of big donors, who finance her campaign, simply makes matters worse for her, which could potentially extend her losses at the two primaries to national level, unless she comes up with a strategy to deal with her image problem.

Donald J Trump, the Republican presidential hopeful, meanwhile, is enjoying a meteoric rise in the galaxy of American politics while defying political pundits in both camps and taking on powerful media groups - and those who run them. He openly accuses some journalists of being dishonest, yet his popularity soars; so, there is little sympathy for the media among the public in the face of relentless Trump vitriol.

Mr Trump, who is not a stranger to media, has the gift of interacting with audience in order to mesmerize the people - without match among the other hopefuls. This is one of those moments when he delivered a speech in LA in which he didn’t spare anyone whom he thinks are his enemies:

Judging by the way some famous anchors have recently diluted their style of questioning Mr Trump , it is explicitly clear that they have been tamed to a certain extent by one facet of Trump phenomenon – attacking them without being politically correct with the come-what-may attitude - and without the fear of consequences, of course.

Mr Trump, who claims to be self-funding his own campaign without leaning towards the big companies, are taking on the latter, much to the delight of the public: for instance, he recently explained how drug companies collectively make a fortune at the expense of American people, because the politicians on both sides of the political divide are in their ‘pockets’; in addition, he says how the defence contractors are eating into military budget while providing the arms and ammunition, for which President Eisenhower coined the phrase, ‘ military-industrial complex’.

These are not the kinds of things that a potential Republican presidential hopeful, let alone a presidential hopeful, talks about in the run up to an election. They immediately strike a chord with the public, who have been disillusioned by the years of rhetoric that never materialises into something tangible. In addition, the erosion of jobs, falling educational standard, rising crime rates, uncontrollable private debt and the spectacle of poverty across the nation do pose a significant challenge - not to be eclipsed by misplaced patriotism.

Against this backdrop, Donald J Trump, with his characteristically brash style, effortlessly walks into the swamp of public pain and even those who don’t agree with him find him as one of their own. When he addresses the issues that really matter to the people in plain language, the tone resonates with the folks who live way beyond the boundaries of the United States – the entire Western world.

In this context, the rise of Trump phenomenon in its current form is going to be a serious challenge to the politicians in the West in the long run, especially for those who read from script with the blessings of a tribe of spin doctors.

Even though, the surprising development is still in the embryonic stage at political level, the spectacle is serious enough to make the Western politicians and advisors to scratch their heads in finding ways and means to adapt themselves to work in harmony with President Trump.

Because, even if they don’t like him and do not approve of what he says or what he stands for, he is still going to be the leader of the undisputed Cradle of Innovation, the most important nation in the world, the nation which is instrumental in providing us with what we take for granted, ranging from humble PC to smartphones – and a very long list of many more.

- Asian Tribune -

The Phenomena of Trump and Sanders: personification of voter anger and disillusionment
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