Trump and Democracy
Illustration by Joyce Wong
If one thing other than scandals can be taken away from recent presidential debates, it’s one of Mr. Trump’s essential positions on the reality of American life and society as being that “we’re a debtor nation…. And we have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals. And we don't have the money.”
He poses the serious problem that the United States government has been ineffective in addressing the problems of Americans at home and has spent trillions of dollars rebuilding countries in the Middle East, North Africa, East Asia and so on. There is an explanation for this—democracy ceases to be a democracy when an aristocracy, or worse, a corporatocracy, is allowed to prosper and thrive at the expense of the society as a whole. This Machiavellian phenomena about the people and the great is that the great will allow those to govern in a democracy insofar as the candidate is in line with their status quo. It can be argued that a Trump presidency will do more to remedy the problem than hurt it.
It is important to note that in the past 30 years of presidential elections, candidates with subversive views to that of the status quo have been few and far between. Ron Paul, his son Rand Paul and Ross Perot stand out as important candidates with views subversive to that of the status quo. However, none of them got past the presidential nominations due to the fact that they were not as strong––financially or publicly––as their establishment counterparts. To consider a State democratic, we have to examine the ability of candidates who are not affiliated with the establishment to be viable candidates in the democratic process. Trump is that candidate.
If you disconnect your own subjective and ideological views on Trump and only objectively analyze his role in the presidential elections, it is apparent that Trump is the amalgamation of the values and principles of democratic societies: anyone with the support of the people can become a viable candidate in the electoral process. Unlike his competitor, Trump is not an establishment candidate. His brass, bodacious appearances in the primary debates are reminiscent of Ross Perot’s famous speech in 1992, denouncing the establishment and berating Congress for inaction and being a “shell game of soundbites.” Albeit, many of the things Trump has said are bombastic and often outlandish, it still stands that Trump is the amalgamation of democratic values.
Democracy, in the Athenian sense, is founded upon the rule of the people. Ultimately it is the will of the people that creates a direction for the state to move towards. Trump had been polling slightly higher than Clinton, with an average of a one to two per cent advantage across the five major polling think tanks. It is because his ethos of putting Americans first has resonated with millions, as the majority of Americans are fed up with the crippling infrastructure and the billions of dollars used to aid Pakistan, India, Israel and the plethora of other countries that want a piece of the “American pie” while their needs come second.
Trump has also in a sense fulfilled Thomas Jefferson’s—and many of the founding fathers’—fear of factionalism, or what we could consider today as political parties. The founding fathers of America recognized that the creation of factions (parties) is ultimately divisive in political life and will lead to inaction and an ineffective congress, and in turn an ineffective democracy. It can be argued that Trump is not a Republican candidate. Paul Ryan and many other establishment members of the GOP do not agree with Trump’s politics and have been opposed to him since the primaries. Trump has done a lot to bring about the end of the GOP—which would have been the ultimate goal of Jefferson and Adams. The GOP has been essentially divided into centrist Democrats and right-wing conservatives. An internally divided GOP will ultimately end the GOP.
There are, in my opinion, two consequences of a Trump presidency. The first would be that when midterm elections happen for the Congressional seats and Senate in two years, if Trump actually believes the rhetoric that he is presenting, then the Democrats will easily sweep both the Senate and Congress. This will effectively deny Trump the ability to pass any legislation. The second consequence of Trump’s presidency will essentially be the affirmation that Democracy is alive and well in America.
The American system is outdated in the contemporary sense. The founding fathers who have drafted a value system––which I vehemently support––did not account for a population of 300 million citizens, nor the gargantuan scope of politics and its gradual evolution. Yet if it can be the case that a candidate like Trump, who we have to remember is not an establishment candidate, can become a viable candidate in a presidential election, then it may be argued that Democracy is alive and breathing in contemporary America. It is a place where the Ross Perot’s and the Ron Paul’s of the world have failed to be in the position that Trump is in.