Invoking the climate of violence presently pervading America, the newly minted Republican Candidate for the US Presidential election this November, Donald Trump trumpeted, “This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.” He promised the delegates to the Convention: “To all Americans tonight, in all of our cities and in all of our towns, I make this promise: We Will Make America Strong Again. We Will Make America Proud Again. We Will Make America Safe Again. And We Will Make America Great Again,”
The problem was that all of the high falutin rhetoric deployed to explain achieving the above goals exploited one basic theme: fear!
There was the reiteration of the nativist narrative to blame most of America’s ills on immigrants. Trump insisted he would build the wall along the Mexican border through which most of the illegal immigrants arrive from Latin America. He emphasised the number of American persons killed by immigrants, but failed to note the numbers of immigrants killed on a per capita basis far exceeds the former numbers.
Trump repeated his campaign promise to also ban all immigration of persons from “Muslim” countries. “We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place. We don’t want them in our country.” With this very loose definition of who exactly was to be banned, there are fears the ban would extend to Muslims from wherever they originate.
This formulation could obviously include Guyana, with our 10% Muslim population and the insistence that our currency flows are funding “terrorism”. But the ban would not only affect new Muslim immigrants to the US: the ones already in the country will inevitably be “othered” and persecuted along with other immigrants. One could extrapolate from the experience of African Americans who have been “othered” for centuries, what the consequences for immigrants will be under a Trump presidency.
Donald Trump takes centre stage at recent Republican National Convention (ABC news photo)
Trump also played on the fears of Americans for their economic security to insist he would bring back to the US industries that had been shifted abroad to exploit lower wages there. It would appear he would inaugurate a new era of protectionism to accomplish this since he blithely asserted he would “renegotiate” the trade pacts the US had painstakingly negotiated over the past four decades. He did not mention that in the history of industrialisation and capitalism sound “free trade” economic logic dictates that industries would move to countries with comparative advantages in either land, labour or capital. And he elided the question as to whether Americans would be able to afford the higher prices the US-made goods would cost.
All in all the Republican candidate did not stray from the polarising and divisive rhetoric he used during the long nomination campaign. This was not confined to the Democrats but also to his Republican opponents and forced his major Republican challenger Ted Cruz not to endorse him in his speech to the convention.
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy, most dismissed him as a publicity seeking “buffoon”. He has now captured the threshold prize he set out to win: he cannot be dismissed with the same hauteur as was used on the first from winning the ultimate one – the US presidency.