Donald Trump Is A Prick But What On Earth Is Going To Stop Him?

The would-be president has just suggested a ban on all Muslims entering the US. And still he soars in the polls. What will it take to stop him? We asked an adult...

Donald Trump Is A Prick But What On Earth Is Going To Stop Him?

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Donald Trump has stoked ire across the world after declaring that the US should ban all Muslims from entering ‘until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on’.

Not only has David Cameron condemned Donald’s comments as: ‘Divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong,’ but even Nigel Farage has yelped, ‘On this occasion he has gone too far.’

And his hair-doppleganger Boris Johnson has made it clear he has no desires to be linked to Trump. And a previous e-petition on the Government's site, calling to ban Donald Trump from entering the UK because of his ‘hate speech’ has now amassed 145,000 signatures at the time of writing.

But while Trump’s comments garner international outrage, they’ve prompted him to be invited onto four major news channels in the US, where he’s been able to tell his critics: ‘I. Don’t. Care.’ And though the White House’s spokesperson has said that Trump’s announcement ‘disqualifies him from serving as president’, he’s still riding high in the polls, and did you hear the cheers he got at the rally where he made his (latest) anti-Muslim comments?

The Muslims comment isn’t his first despicable one, his whole campaign being a tick-list of already marginalised people he can further upset, ranging from women, to Mexicans, Latinos, Jews and disabled people. As satirical website The Onion runs the headline, ‘“This Will Be The End Of Trump’s Campaign,” Says Increasingly Nervous Man For Seventh Time This Year,’ we started to wonder what on earth could stop Trump? How far is too far?

While a Republican pollster told The Guardian that the only thing to stop him would be if he’s ‘shown to have hurt people who have worked for him’, we asked our own expert, Clodagh Harrington, senior lecturer in politics at De Montford University and author of numerous books on American politics, what she thinks about Trump. Namely: how the hell can he be stopped?

Hi Clodagh, easy questions first. What will it take to stop Donald Trump? What will be the straw – or haystack – that breaks the camel’s back with him?

It’s so hard for the media to focus on everybody, but Trump is media manna from heaven. His soundbites, his outrageousness, his absolute not caring at all for consequences – a lot of people find it incredibly refreshing. Some obviously find it worrying, but I think what the Republican party needs to do, as a matter of increasing urgency, is encourage the number of less successful candidates to just back off and have a smaller, more robust, more meaningful set of contenders. If I had to put my finger on who could replace Trump meaningfully, and still give a significant nod to the right, it would be Marco Rubio. But right now, Ted Cruz is still doing well in the polls.

Ted Cruz has been pretty bad, trying to ban refugees from America, despite his own parents being Cuban refugees. And Rubio is so anti-choice he would ban it even in cases of rape and incest. They could be right-wing alternatives to Trump, but are any of them half-decent?

At the moment, it’s all a dance and they have to dance around a certain set of steps. In the primary stage [Republicans will vote in March 2016 for who they want to be on the ticket for the presidential elections], they will all tack to their own sides. Republicans will tack to the right, Democrats will tack to the left – that’s what they do. Further down the line, when it comes to the election, the’ll go back a little more towards the centre and pick up their moderate photo opportunities.

Trump is having his moment in the sun, and the sun is really shining on him. He’s not dipped in the polls after those pretty outrageous comments and he’s having lots of fun. He’s delighting in the horror from the left, the liberal hand-wringing and the support he’s getting from the Tea Party people [long story, but these are a right-wing faction within the Republican party].

In 2012, Mitt Romney was caught unawares saying that he didn’t want poor people to vote for him, it seems like Donald Trump is different in that he’s saying, ‘I’m gonna own this, I’m gonna say it and I’m refreshingly honest.’ Is that what's appealing?

The big difference between Trump and other politicians like Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz and Mario Rubio is that they’re all career politicians. They might touch the boundaries of outrageousness, but they need to get re-elected so they need to toe some kind of a line. Even if that’s not a line we recognise in the UK. While Trump has nothing to lose. He’s worth billions, he can do what he likes.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist, Dick Morris, would say, ‘The best thing you can have, when you’re in this game, is “fuck you” money.’ In the most overt way, Trump has said he has enough of a pot that he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. If all this unravels today, he can go back to Trump Towers, bring out a book on business management or whatever, not that he needs that money or recognition. He’s on a win-win situation.

Gay marriage passed in Ireland because so many people know someone who might be gay – do you think America is interconnected enough for people to go ‘I know a Latino person’ or ‘I know a disabled person’ and so take their side and refuse to bolster Trump laughing at them?

I would like to think the answer is yes, but if you look at the voting map of America, the red bits are red [Republicans] and the blue bits are blue [Democrats] and there’s not much purple. It’s so much easy for it to be more insular. That said, there are lots of good decent Republicans – ones who’ll be fine with recreational drug use and gay marriage, they just get uptight about tax and economics – who are horrified that Trump is leading in the polls. It’s all so top down – the government and media will drum up hype and it entrenches divisions between people.

It’s so interesting that such a big country doesn’t have more nuances when you consider the UK now has so many different parties with their own influences.

Well, smaller places have more intimacy. Take Ireland, there’s one media outlet there, but in the States, you could live your entire life only ever watching Fox News or MSNBC, you might never get your head out that trough.

How could Trump affect the UK if he came to power?

It’s a very very unlikely scenario, but if he was to win it’d be like the dog who caught the bus. It’s like, ‘Oh my god, you did it! Well what now?’ What would he do on immigration? He says he’d build a wall and send 11.4 million people home. Well who’s going to buy the wall and where are you going to send him? He wants to bomb ‘the hell out of Isis’, but what’s the strategy? He’ll want to be much tougher on China and would look to the EU and UK as allies on that. I would say don’t sweat too much, but who knows? I could talk to you again in a year and be retracting all of this, going, ‘Oh, we’ll have to make do with him, won’t we?’

Let’s hope not! Thanks!

Since our interview, speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan – who was once in the running against Trump – has said, ‘This is not conservatism.’ And Trump, seemingly in response, has tweeted that 68% of his supporters would stick by him if he were to become an independent candidate. We’ll keep you posted…

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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