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Is Mr. Trump the Next U.S. President?
"THE AMERICAN DREAM is dead, but I will bring it back" is the slogan with which Donald Trump literally burst into the presidential election race. The billionaire who made his fortune through real estate development and sales has seriously scared both the Democratic camp and some of his fellow party members, the Republicans. Despite all the attempts to marginalize him, Trump is confidently winning support and building up an electorate for himself.
Donald Trump surely has his trump cards, and one of them is his financial independence, something he constantly stresses. The Bush-Clinton elite, encumbered with its clienteles, will never make America great, it has no chance of it, he tells his supporters. The Americans, who usually assume that all presidents have had lobbies behind them that financed their election campaigns and have largely controlled their policies, have been pleasantly surprised by Trump's uninhibited rhetoric, although he says he needs work more than rhetoric.
One distinctive feature of Trump's campaign is his assumption that one way to make America prosperous is a new foreign policy based on the notion of the "good deal." That is the positive aspect of his foreign policy doctrine. The negative side is his insistence that the United States should be tough and resolute in negotiating such deals. In one of his program speeches, he lashed out against China for "destroying" the U.S. economy by devaluing its currency and stealing jobs from ordinary Americans. Trump has mentioned China on several occasions, and, despite his assurances that he is fond of the Chinese, the Celestial Kingdom is the number one enemy in his eyes. Unexpectedly, the number two enemy is Mexico, which, he claims, exports cheap labor and crime to America. "I would build a great, great wall .... on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall," he said.
One more pet target of Trump's is big U.S. corporations that locate their manufacturing facilities abroad to hire cheaper labor. He threatens to slap import duties of up to 30% on the goods they bring to the United States.
The Republican candidate is convinced that unemployment in his country is at least twice as high as official statistics show. "I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created," he said. Much more than welfare allowances, Americans need confidence in the future and jobs that are secure and bring them what would be decent earnings by American standards. Hopping from subject to subject, Trump then goes back to the foreign policy theme and his ideology of position-of-force deals. Saudi Arabia, for example, must pay the United States a fee for guaranteeing its security. That is a dubious thesis - Saudi Arabia is a regional power that itself has enough clout to make decisions on war and peace in the Middle East.
One distinctive feature of Trump's campaign is his assumption that one way to make America prosperous is a new foreign policy based on a notion of the "good deal."
"One of the things that I heard for years and years: Never drive Russia and China together; and Obama has done that," Trump said. In talking about a visit to Russia two years ago, he said he would be able to "have a great relationship" with Putin and "get along" with the Russian people. Trump appears to be deliberately avoiding the Ukraine theme, and thereby obviously winning points from his fellow Americans, who are scared of anti-Russian rhetoric with increasingly frequent belligerent overtones.
Returning to his theme of fees that he wants foreign countries to pay the United States, he insists that America impose dues for its global leadership on its potential adversaries and potential allies alike.
Trump was against the war in Iraq and deplored the United States' human and financial losses in it. He doesn't believe that leadership necessarily means participation. He considers leadership a source of specific economic, mainly financial, benefits, among other things a skill to obtain lucrative deals through tough negotiations. He is convinced that there is no one in the current American political elite who is capable of bringing off such deals, that this elite is impotent, and that, as a result, America is a weakening superpower.
One naturally wonders what the odds are of Trump becoming president. In comparing him to the political giants such as the Bush and Clinton family clans, many claim that his defeat is a foregone conclusion. On the other hand, the electorate is obviously tired of faces that are much too familiar, make déjà-vu speeches and use hackneyed clichés, and this may be to the advantage of "uncontrolled Trump." His independent and obviously novel, if not indisputable, ideas have an appeal to them.
Critics claim that Trump's foreign policy views can scare voters instead of attracting them. "Maybe, but perhaps they don't understand the American people in the way that Mr. Trump does," says Jeremy Shapiro of Brookings Institution. "He has tapped into a deep well of populist anger that runs through much of the Republican electorate. People are tired of the same old elites peddling the same old solutions, while the working class suffers through economic loss and cultural decline. They do not want any more efforts to explain away their anger in politically correct terms."
Nevertheless, Trump will have a job to do trying to win ground from his eminent rivals, and the billions of dollars on his bank account can't do all the work. Both the Republican leadership and, naturally, the Democratic elite may close ranks against him. But both Bush and Clinton have rivals within their own parties, and at some point Trump may invoke his good deals theory and clinch a deal with some of them.
As for his foreign policy views, behind their questionable pragmatism and toughness is most likely a desire to seek agreement rather than try to force American attitudes and values on the rest of the world.
The latest ratings suggest that Trump is stably ahead of the other Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush.
This article is being published as part of the RIA Novosti news agency project "From the Author"; http://www.rian.ru/anthois/20100204/207658418.html
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Is Mr. Trump the Next U.S. President?