Donald Trump’s Trump Cards
Guest Article by Dmitry Minin
Strategic Culture Foundation
December 31, 2015
They say name spells the destiny. Donald Trump could be a good example of that. Being a grandmaster of political game he has become the wild-card in the high-stakes card game called the US election race. Evidently, Trump has fallen out of favor with media. At that he is the clear leader of the 2016 presidential campaign leaving behind all other GOP candidates.
His rivals cherished hopes that his recently made statement demanding «total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States» would show that what he says runs contrary to the political correctness rules established in America today. As it happened, many voters who see current administration as weak and ineffective on terrorism, support what Trump says. Besides, Trump explained that his words were distorted. He never said the ban should be permanent. The frontrunner recommended to introduce it on temporary basis until a coherent anti-terrorist national strategy is in place. He hit the nail right on the head choosing this issue as a trump card. A survey conducted before the debates in the days after Trump made his controversial call to ban Muslims from entering the United States showed him having 41 percent support and opening up a 27-point lead over the next closest contender Ted Cruz ahead of December 15 Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas.
63 percent of those backing the Ted Cruz said they’d be satisfied with Trump as the nominee. Many of them belong to national minorities normally believed to be opponents of the extravagant billionaire. It proves the Trump’s electoral base is expanding. The super-rich Trump enjoys the highest support (54%) among blue-collar workers. The series of GOP primary elections and caucuses are scheduled for February 1, 2016. There is no time left to change the trend or improve the position of Jeb Bush, the favorite son of GOP establishment and a hopeless outsider in the race. Trump appears to make his impromptus and escapades match the mindset of US voters with security concerns prevailing over economy (a traditional priority issue in the past) as top issues with 20 percent lead. The Republican race leader has also taken advantage of another trend he noticed was taking place – ordinary people don’t think security will be improved if superpowers become rivals again, even if the competition takes a different form than before. Official propaganda and politicians, including the majority of Trump’s rivals from the both parties, try to paint Moscow as a threat. These attempts have failed being out of touch with reality. It’s not easy to create an image of enemy without producing any evidence. Life shows the real threat is quite different. It comes from those who conduct terrorist activities across the whole globe. To great extent, these forces owe their emergence and existence to the very same people who hold power in the United States. Many Americans believe that it would be much better for the US if Russia were an ally, not an enemy, in the fight against this evil. The very fact that Donald Trump realizes this reality is a feather in his hat.
The December 15 event in Las Vegas was the final Republican debate before the election year begins.
The Russia-US relationship was mainly mentioned in the context of Syria’s conflict. Trump continued to insist that the fight against the Islamic State was the prime objective. He called Syria President Assad a «bad guy», but said that all other goals, including Assad’s removal from office, were of secondary importance. «We have to get rid of ISIS first. After we get rid of ISIS, we’ll start thinking about it. But we can’t be fighting Assad. And when you’re fighting Assad, you are fighting Russia, you’re fighting – you’re fighting a lot of different groups. But we can’t be fighting everybody at one time», Trump said.
This reasonable view was countered by the spate of bellicose, hardly relevant and often quite ridiculous statements. For instance, Ohio Governor John Richard Kasich said: «And for the Russians, frankly, it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose. They’ve gotten away with too much in this world, and we need to stand up against them, not just there, but also in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies».
Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO, said the United States should speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin from the position of power and set up a no-fly zone in Syria. New Jersey governor Chris Christie said ditto. If he were commander-in-chief Christie would order Russian planes that violate a no-fly zone in Syria to be shot down. «Yes we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots, if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval office is right now», the governor said.
Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul disapproved the Christie’s statements. «Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate», he said. «My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, ‘Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes.’ Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with, the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace. And so if we announce we’re going to have a no-fly zone – and others have said this. Hillary Clinton is also for it. It is a recipe for disaster. It’s a recipe for World War III. We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war», Paul clarified his views.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also tried to jump into the conversation about Russia. According to him, he is better qualified to deal with Putin than Trump because he will rely on the assessments offered by experts. «I won’t get my information from the shows», he added (the former governor suggested that Trump was actually watching cartoons). But Bush is hopelessly trailing behind; few listen to what he says.
Donald Trump was the winner of Tuesday night’s fifth GOP presidential debate, a new poll says. Thirty-five percent of registered Republicans think Trump won the contest in Las Vegas and former Gov. Jeb Bush was the debate’s loser.
It’s worth to mention the indirect dialogue between candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after the debates. According to Politico, «The love between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin appears to be mutual».
In his annual year-end press-conference on December 17, Putin called the Republican presidential candidate «a very bright and talented man», as well as an «absolute leader» in the race for the presidency. «He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it», the Russian President said.
«It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond», the unfazed GOP presidential front-runner told supporters at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. «I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect», he added.
In an interview with Fox News Trump said many conflicts in the world take place because the two presidents did not get along. «His dislike for President Obama – and it’s a mutual thing – is terrible. That’s why you see all the conflict, all the problems, all the hatred. If we can’t work with Russia, that’s not a good thing», Trump said.
Making predictions about the results of the 2016 presidential race is apparently an unrewarding work. Let’s not forget that Donald Trump not only slammed the failed foreign policy of the current administration. He challenged the two-party political system. There are many ways to shuffle the cards, even if one has all the aces. But Donald Trump has already played an important role in the political life of his country. The trump cards he plays to attract the attention of American people (the real fight against terrorism and the normalization of relations with Russia) cannot just be forgotten and vanish in the hays. After him any US politician will have to think twice about the wisdom of adopting anti-Russian rhetoric and supporting the idea of confrontation with Russia if such policy does not match public sentiments and real national interests. In practical terms, he or she will have to take into consideration the opinion of voters.
[More links available at source.]