The moment Donald Trump first announced his political intentions regarding the 2016 US Presidential election is a moment in time that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most comical moments of the century. We all laughed. Some of us even cried. Well, the joke’s over. From being written off at the start of the primaries, Trump has shattered expectations to secure the position of the US Republican presidential nominee after the calamitous event that was the Indiana primaries.
So how exactly did “an orange Elvis squirted from a can of Cheez Whiz” manage to slip through the cracks of social common sense (which retrospect indicates is actually gaping ravines) and become a very real contender in the race to replace Obama as the next president of the United States of America?
Born into wealth as the fourth of five children to real estate tycoon Fred Trump (whose parents emigrated from Germany) and Mary Ann MacLeod (of Scottish origin), Trump had a childhood far different from that of the average American. After spending some time in a military academy as a teenager, Trump finished off with a degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Trump opted for a career within real estate development, initially working alongside his father until he took ownership of the company in the ‘70s. Following an array of risky business decisions and real estate projects (“I never settle!” he harrumphs – he does, and often), Trump managed to turn the company into the empire that it is today – all while attaching his name to essentially everything that he touched (including a dubious university that promised to teach its students how to “make a fortune” off their struggling fellow Americans during the foreclosure crisis of 2008 #trumpuniversityftw).
Further down the track, Trump was at one point involved in negotiations for the Menie Estate in Scotland, a piece of land he was determined to building a luxury golf resort on. As he grew increasingly frustrated (to put it mildly, we’ve all seen he has anger issues) with the local residents’ reluctance to sell their land, Trump went on to publicly ridicule the land owners on a late night talk show as well as in newspapers, claiming that the locals were hillbillies that lived in “disgusting” squalor (#redflag1).
There’s no doubt that Trump has massively succeeded in making himself disgustingly rich (and also in accumulating trophy wives) – but does that truly warrant a billionaire casino mogul and (not so great) reality show host, with zero political experience, to become the next president of the United States of America?
Unbeknownst to many, Trump did dip his feet in the proverbial political waters as early as 1987, when he boasted to Newsweek that “I’m not running for president…But if I did, I’d win”. In 1999 he waded in further, forming an exploratory committee to determine whether he should seek the Reform Party’s nomination for the presidential race of 2000. As America seemed to not quite be ready to take him seriously (or un-seriously), Trump reluctantly withdrew his candidacy.
While we’ll probably never know if it was just a stunt to boost his own business and brand, Trump took another stab at the presidential candidacy in 2012 when he, yet again, publicly announced his presidential intentions. Unfortunately (or not), this coincided with a time where Trump’s association with the ‘Birther’ movement became quite well-known, as he was one of the most outspoken members of the group. For those who are unfamiliar with this movement, it’s basically a group of sh*tty individuals that whole-heartedly believes President Barack Obama was not born in the US (#redflag2).
Under the (spurious) impression that it’s his time to shine, Trump officially threw his hat in the ring when he announced he would run for president on the Republican ticket in June 2016, all while coining his superfluous phrase of how he’d single-handedly “make America great again”.
“From that point onwards, Trump the ‘politician’ has gone from being a buffoon that nobody took seriously to a buffoon who could now very well become the next President of the United States. Under the goading of the now-dropped campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Trump has repelled citizens of American and the world – not to mention his own party – with a sortie of hate-driven remarks. Starting with his outrageous and derogatory assertions about Mexicans (“they’re rapists”), and going on strong to advocate for the temporary ban of Muslim immigration to the US “until [their] country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on”, he furthermore demanded the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants (#redflag3).
I think that we can all agree at this point that Trump’s entire political career has been a brewing sh*tstorm from the start. But out of all the ludicrous statements that have been regurgitated out of Trump’s mouth, the one that made me pause and think “what the f*ck is going on across the Pacific Ocean”, was Trump’s discrediting of the former Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s claim of being a war hero. “He’s not a war hero” Trump declared. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” This is the part where I inform you that McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, in which he endured several years of torture and depravity (#redflag4). With a campaign crew of ten to one against Hillary’s at the time of writing, the man clearly isn’t interested in investing any of his billions into much-needed consultants and advisers.
Now can we all just take a moment to truly envision Donald Trump in the White House. A man who openly encourages his supporters to engage in violence against protesters during his rallies; a man that is known to consistently refer to his opponents as “disgusting” and “losers”; a man who further promised to build a wall along the Mexican border (a wall in which he intends to make Mexico pay for); and a man that referred to Hilary Clinton’s bathroom breaks during a Democratic debate as “disgusting” (#redflag5). This is a man millions of Americans seem to want to rule their country. Take all the time you need to stop shuddering.
In all seriousness, Trump could end up winning the presidential election in a similar manner to how he won the Republican primary. As political strategist and campaign adviser Russ Schriefer said, “what the internet did to newspapers, what Uber did to taxis, what Airbnb did to the hotel industry, Donald Trump did to American politics.”
Obama has warned the American public, being the president of the United States of America (or any country for that matter) is more than just a job title; it’s representative of a nation, a world, and most importantly, what it is to be [in this case] an American. You’re not just a president; you’re the leader of a free world.
The story of Donald Trump and his accumulated red flags is a cautionary tale of what is to come if Trump were to win the presidential election. He would be representing a defeated America, an absurd America – a broken America.
The writers of South Park know how to summarise the current, terrifying possibility of US President Trump far more eloquently than I can. Although a parody, it speaks with truth:
“There were several candidates during the Canadian elections. One of them was this brash a**hole who just spoke his mind. He didn’t really offer any solutions, he just said outrageous things. we… thought it was funny. Nobody really thought he’d ever be president. It was a joke! But we just let the joke go on for too long. He kept gaining momentum, and by the time we were all ready to say “Okay, let’s get serious now. Who should really be president?” he was already being sworn into office. We weren’t paying attention. We weren’t paying attention!” – South Park S.19 Ep.2, “Where My Country Gone?”
Words by Leona Mpagi