The Republican Party’s worse nightmare came to life last Tuesday night: Donald Trump emerged out of the “Super Tuesday” with such emphatic wins over his mainstream rivals that barring some catastrophic meltdown, he appears to be a shoo in forthat party’s presidential candidacy in the November general elections. In doing so, he has vindicated the ancient philosophers’ scepticism about democracy being a legitimate method for a state to chose its leaders.
Their scepticism centred on the empirically observed tendency of demagogues to sway the ordinary citizen, who has no interest in educating him/herself about the fine print on policy. And even back then they knew, “the devil was in the details”. In America and most mature democracies, the democratic system worked because of the formation of political parties. The leaders of these took time to craft policies for confronting challenges to their societies based on overarching coherent ideologies that attempted to ground their premises on empirical data.
In the American system for choosing the “party’s standard bearer” to compete for the Presidency, members of the two parties vote directly in “Primaries or Caucuses” for individuals placed on the ballots. While there was always the possibility for an “outsider”, that is, a “non-professional politician” to enter and win these contests, (and this was the touted “virtue” of the system) their chances were remote. The politicians therefore had the benefit of both worlds: they could boast about their “democratic and open” system while running processes that generally self-selected from a small poll of professional politicians stressing issues drawn from the party’s playbook – which are never called “manifestos”.
Sometimes “wild cards” can be thrown up by the process: Ronald Reagan from the Republicans and Barrack Obama from the Democrats come to mind. But up to now these outsiders by and large hoed to their party’s general policy prescriptions. It has to be a symptom of a deep crisis in the American political system that this year, both the Republicans and Democrats have produced two outsiders – Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders – who have both veered sharply from their party’s orthodoxies.
After Super Tuesday, it would appear that Bernie Sanders will not be able to deliver a knockout punch to Hillary Clinton, who even though a woman, is a consummate “insider” and Democratic team player. She will carry the Democratic flag. Donald Trump, on the other hand has utilised the Primaries to go directly to grass root Republicans with a demagogic series of outlandish proposals that are anathema to the traditional leadership of the Republican Party, but playing to the gallery.
Trump has been able to garner the support of average Republicans and if he turns up at the Republican Convention with the requisite majority of delegates, he will be contesting the elections as a Republican and place enormous pressure on the regular politicians in Congress and the Senate to support his programs. Some of the latter have already indicated they will refuse to do so and this will obviously precipitate a further crisis in American governance if Trump were to go all the way.
On his stance against Mexican immigration (build an “impenetrable” 1000+mile wall between Mexico and the USA”) he proposes to fund the wall through tariffs on Mexican imports. Tariffs will also be applied on Chinese goods and taxes on US companies that moved to offshore production. The problem is the US has signed numerous regular trade and Free Trade Area agreements into law that would be violated by these tariffs. There is also the small matter of American consumers being willing to absorb the costs of all the tariffs on imported goods they have become used to buying on the cheap.
For Guyana, there would be the challenge – if Trump were to keep his promise to deport 11 million illegal immigrants – of hosting at least 100,000 of them who are from Guyana.