By Arab News
By Jamal Doumani
Americans are today beginning to entertain the thought that Donald Trump may indeed win his party’s nomination to run for the presidency, and perhaps even the general election in November. The thought, at the outset of the campaign six months ago, was a mere whimsy in the minds of political analysts.
Now every one of these analysts and his uncle has hunkered down to the notion that Trump is a serious presidential contender who, very likely, will be giving his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 18-21.
Trump’s march to that nomination accelerated in pace after he convincingly won the Nevada caucuses last Tuesday — leaving the boyish-looking Marco Rubio and the abrasive Ted Cruz trailing behind — and the New Hampshire primary a week earlier.
In Nevada, as elsewhere on his campaign, Trump drew enormous crowds of supporters to whom he articulated his by now well known xenophobic vision via visceral rhetoric that tapped not only into their anxieties about “the other” in their midst — untrustworthy Muslims, illegal immigrants, terrorists lurking behind every lamppost, Chinese financial schemers with sinister ambitions and the like — but into their craving to see in the White House an “outsider,” a “fearless trouble shooter” prepared to “tell it like it is,” and the devil with political correctness.
There, on the night before the election, for example, where the mogul businessman addressed a rally that drew 8,000 people, he again called for the deportation of illegal immigrants (folks known in polite circles, where semantic decency is valued in the public discourse, as “undocumented immigrants”), and his message seemed to resonate with the state’s working-class whites, imbued as they are with unrepentant nativist sentiments and resentment at seeing a booming Hispanic population living in their lily-white neighborhoods.
Increasingly, there’s a recognition among mainstream Republicans and party elite, who are anxious to prevent Trump from running away with the nomination, that it may be too late. Polls indicate that his chances of racking up wins on Super Tuesday are real.
Super Tuesday, on March 1, is of course the biggest test of them all, traditionally the most critical day for presidential candidates in both parties. On that day, this year, voters in 12 states will go to the polls to cast ballots for their chosen candidate in the primaries. Importantly, the day is also recognized as a key indicator — perhaps the key indicator — of who the nominee will be from each party.
On the Republican side, along with the flashy billionaire, there are Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson. Kasich and Carson, as my own not so well-informed grandmother knows by now, are irrelevant, since their chances at moving forward, let alone winning, are between zero and zilch. As CNBC reported in a news commentary several days ago, these two “have no shot at winning, but they are both infected by the ambition virus that keeps zombie hopes alive and makes dropping out difficult if not impossible.”
The long and short of it is that Trump is slated to win big on Super Tuesday, and even in later primaries that will end on June 7. Those who know how to add up the math will tell you what will happen at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland: You have Trump with 1,246 delegates on his side — more than he would need to be chosen as official nominee.
This has been the inexorable march of a maverick real estate developer from New York whose ascendancy, a mere six months ago, would for many have seemed unthinkable, unthinkable even to the Republican establishment, which remained in deep denial, never imagining that it would come to this. But it did.
How much more loathsome a presidential candidate could you have than one whose foreign policy brims with machismo — imagining an alpha domination of the world by American power, the kind of power that would make the neoconservatives of yore seem like boy scouts — and who unabashedly harbors, and openly verbalizes, racist sentiments? Very loathsome indeed, but there you have it.
At the outset of the campaign we all thought that, after a few weeks, after a few laughs, and after a few shrugs, American voters will know better, that they will come to their senses. It didn’t happen that way.
Should Trump, as expected, win his party’s nomination in Cleveland in July, and go on to compete in the general election in November, the Democratic contender — either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, but most probably the former — will have their work cut out for them. Scary thought, isn’t it!