Everyone has an opinion on Donald Trump: the Republican billionaire with a self-financed campaign, who has thrown the GOP primaries into disarray. The internet is rife with entertaining labels: ‘short-fingered vulgarian’, ‘the kind of person who goes to the superbowl and thinks the people in the huddle are talking about him’, ‘Gollum’ (thank you Rand Paul), and by an enamoured few, ‘messiah’. If all publicity really is good publicity, then Trump has the best PR men on the planet.
But there’s been a theory circulating for a while now that ‘The Donald’ is not everything he seems. As with all things Trump, it is improbable but highly entertaining; a Democrat in the past, he is said to be ‘close friends’ with the Clintons, having contributed large sums of money to both their foundation and to Hillary’s senatorial campaigns. Conservatives have been lining up to take a swipe at their nominee apparent: ‘he’s a phantom candidate recruited by the left’ (Republican congressman Curbelo); ‘maybe he negotiated a deal with his buddy Hillary Clinton?’ (candidacy rival Jeb Bush); and ‘he jumped into this race because Bill Clinton urged him to’ (Conservative commentator Brian Cates). This last comment refers specifically to an hour long phone call between Donald and Bill shortly before the former announced his nomination. No one knows what was said.
Indeed, in each debate he seems to be stretching his cover to breaking point, only to discover new depths of depravity in public opinion. First it was the great wall of Mexico (“well someone’s doing all the raping”), then the infamous Muslim ban (“I don’t see the Swedish bombing the World Trade Center”) and now it’s ‘advanced interrogation techniques’ (“I’ll bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”). If his goal was to systematically expose the brutal prejudices of the American right, then he couldn’t have found a much better way of doing it.
This flies in the face of Republican party goals which had aimed to appeal to a ‘more ethnically diverse nation’. Trump’s very existence is a middle finger to Republican strategists.
The ‘Democrat mole’ idea is perhaps at its most believable when watching dear old Donald getting endorsed by everyone’s favourite moose-hunter, Sarah Palin. It’s a pretty bizarre scene: Palin stands at the front of the stage twirling a finger and spouting populist gibberish that even her most ardent fan would struggle to translate. “He’s from the private sector…can I get a hallelujah!” she testifies, as Donald strains every sinew to keep his smile-come-grimace in place. If this were Trump the Democrat then he would just have played his masterstroke: the GOP’s most notorious idiot ranting and raving in prose that would look disjointed on Reddit, while the so-called establishment scrambles to distance itself from its own ex-VP nominee. Republican columnists cry into their National Reviews, Jeb Bush pleads with his audiences to clap, and Trump’s enigmatic smile remains.
Unfortunately, as tantalising as ‘Donald the Democrat’ is, it’s probably a pipe dream. The evidence is circumstantial at best (we get it, he knows the Clintons) and if Trump really is putting this all on then he has taken method acting to a terrifying extreme. However, even if Trump is the ultra-right-wing windbag that he projects, there may still be cause for celebration.
By definition, we will only have a Republican president if their candidate can convince Americans who voted Democrat in the last election to vote Republican this time, and with the Trumpster leading the charge that doesn’t seem terribly likely. You feel that anyone who’s going to vote for Trump is already doing so. He even publicised a poll showing that his supporters would still back him if he ran independently, before eventually declaring that he would never do so; a power play that highlighted the blind devotion of his faithful, whilst ensuring that their lunacy remained inextricably linked with the Republican brand. Bill Clinton couldn’t have planned it better (*wink wink*).
Furthermore, even though Trump has set himself apart stylistically, some of his politics reflects wonderfully badly on the rest of the Republican field. Foreign observers are now well aware of the dangers of Donald thanks to his fabulously bellicose rhetoric, but the evangelical Cruz and ultra-conservative Rubio would arguably pose nearly as many problems in office. Now policies that in previous Trump-less elections might have been seen as normal Republican views are internationally associated with Donald’s own special brand of political extremism. Perhaps it is better the devil you know; better still if he comes with inherent unelectability.
So, overall, it doesn’t really matter whether Trump is a mole or not. Conservative commentator George Will has made perhaps the most telling contribution to the now-global Trump debate: “if Trump were a Democrat mole” he asks, “how would his behaviour be any different? I don’t think it would be”.
Trump therefore emerges as an excellent choice for any left-leaning, liberally-minded citizen, keen to tackle the issues for which your friendly neighbourhood Donald is so kindly raising awareness, whilst at the same time guaranteeing another four years of Democrat presidency.
I hereby officially pin my colours to the Trump 2k16 mast; it promises to be one hell of a ride, and the more of America’s twisted underbelly he exposes the more soul-searching it will eventually have to do.
Let’s make America great again. Vote Trump, vote Democrat.