Bet Against Donald Trump and You’ll Kick Yourself Later
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have won the New York primaries for the Democratic and Republican nominations for the forthcoming presidential election. Trump was triumphant after winning five states and virtually all Republican delegates. This may turn out to be the consecration in their respective nominations.
Having won in New York, all that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump need to close the primaries deal is to win California (June 7). For Clinton, a primary win would secure her role as the Democratic nominee for the White House in November, while Trump still has to jump over a hurdle or two.
The Republican Party could try to stop Trump, forcing the convention this summer as the final test, down to the very last delegate. Some GOP bosses might decide to pull a convention coup by pulling out a third candidate card: the highly decorated Marine Corps General James Mattis. (Source: “The silly plan to draft Gen. Mattis shows what’s wrong with GOP,” New York Post, April 25, 2016.)
But, this would ignore the fact that Mr. Trump, rash and brash as he might be, could win the cake and not just eat, but also pig out on it. After all, in Europe, similar personalities have shown that it can be done. (Silvio Berlusconi in Italy is a classic case.)
Hillary Clinton can enjoy the start of the winding-down phase. While popular, Sanders has lost too many states to matter now.
Clinton and Trump have different paths now. The former will need to win over Bernie Sanders’ youth base, the same group that pushed Barack Obama to the White House eight years ago. If they don’t vote, Hillary Clinton will lose to Trump. In order to win over these votes, Clinton will pick a far left vice president candidate—perhaps Bernie himself? She did end her primary celebration by sending Bernie a conciliatory message after all.
As for Trump, he already considers himself the candidate. That hubris is part of the act and he could not have acted otherwise to uphold the performance of self-assuredness and confidence, as a metaphor for America’s role in the world itself. He assured his supporters that he would “so easily” beat Hillary Clinton. (Source: “No, Donald Trump, beating Hillary Clinton will not be easy for you,” The Washington Post, April 27, 2016.) As it happens, he has a good chance of winning.
The “Trump” card in the New York City real estate mogul’s arsenal is foreign policy and protectionism. Trump held a more presidential than usual speech the day after his big New York State win to show that he is, to put it bluntly, “presidential.”
This is where the Clinton camp has to be careful. Having swept off the other GOP hopefuls, Trump will start to be less extreme, appealing more to voters’ reason than emotion, without losing sight of the latter.
Donald Trump has presented nothing short of his vision of the United States’ role in the world. Given the disastrous results of the Iraq campaign, the enduring problems in Afghanistan, and the unstoppable emergence of China as a superpower, many Americans—Democrat and Republican alike—feel an existential void. They need to know what America’s role must be in this new confusing multipolar world.
Trump said his primary goal will be to “remove the rust” from a foreign policy that has failed and that his administration’s ultimate goal will always be “America first.” Trump is telling the GOP clearly and loudly that he knows what it is best for America. (Source: “Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy: ‘America First’,” CNN, April 27, 2016.)
Trump cited mistakes made in Iraq, Egypt, and Libya as facilitating the Middle East’s chaotic situation. He said that the problems in the Middle East began with the dangerous idea that the U.S. could export democracy in nations that weren’t interested in having it. Trump carefully avoided blaming the idea of exporting democracy—first in Afghanistan, and then in Iraq—on former Republican President George W. Bush. However, Trump may find some support from such noted professors as John Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, who have long argued for a less interventionist U.S. foreign policy.
It’s no surprise that Trump is focusing on foreign policy as the GOP nomination is but a few steps away. Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State in the years when the Arab Spring began. She also voted in favor of invading Iraq, while Trump, on several talk shows in the first years of that war, openly questioned its wisdom. Trump knows Hillary’s weaknesses and he’s already taking the first shots.
Meanwhile, Trump is also sending what must sound like music to the heads and investors of such companies as Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) by promising to rebuild the U.S. Military.
As for the Christian right, which was so important in getting G.W. Bush elected in 2000, Trump stressed how Obama’s (read: Hillary Clinton’s) foreign policy has done nothing to help the persecuted Christian populations:
“We have done nothing to help the Christians, nothing, and we should always be ashamed for that, for that lack of action. Our actions in Iraq, Libya and Syria have helped unleash ISIS, and we’re in a war against radical Islam…” (Source: “Read Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ Foreign Policy Speech,” Time, April 27, 2016.)
At this point, Trump promises that the U.S. will return to being strong. The U.S. will resume a foreign policy based on American interests first and those of its allies second. He even wants to renew America’s nuclear arsenal, so that nobody will dare question the U.S. Military’s supremacy. As a first salvo, this is tough to beat.
The speech had none of the chauvinist anti-immigrant message of candidate Trump’s first speeches last summer. He is stressing America first and he picked his target directly, scoring a few points against Hillary Clinton already. Mr. Trump, like him or not, is becoming more electable and could appeal to Democrats and Republicans alike.
Hillary Clinton may have an easier path to victory now in her own Party race, but she will have to fight hard to beat Donald Trump next November.