What good is having a net worth of more than $8 billion if you cannot say what you think? It is possible that the tycoon, Donald Trump, has asked this question before. Perhaps he asked it of himself on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 16, shortly before announcing, in an incendiary speech, that he would be running as Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States. The only sure thing is that, without even having asked the question, he had already answered it by seizing the initiative to compete in the longest and most difficult race of his life of fame, fortune and reality shows.
Whatever people far and wide may think, Trump is already a political phenomenon with unprecedented reach. His emergence has been so shocking that nobody knows how to cope with the force of his bravado. Rival supporters berate him for his manners, but avoid making comments on the issues he addresses without compunction. With the same contemptuous tone he used for years as he spoke the phrase, "You're fired," on the television show, “The Apprentice,” the candidate unleashed his anti-immigrant anger without thinking of any of the consequences, except his presumed electoral benefit. In his own way, his frightening verbal incontinence stresses that power is nothing unless it allows you to say or do whatever you want. Nobody amasses a fortune of more than $8 billion only to be forced to speak half-truths. Trump did not join anyone else in the struggle for power; he took hold of it himself. Now that he has it, he has no respect for its limits. The disturbing lesson of his campaign shows that within the constitution of power is the seed of impunity.
True power does not respect limits, and power is only true power if you have a well-known name. Donald Trump’s secret of success has always been to put his personal stamp on his life, his work and his miracles. There was never a more eccentric millionaire than Trump: There is not, and never will be, another one like Trump. His image and arrogance are his trademarks. No one styles themselves like him, and there is no one like him who says exactly what they think. His controversial and unique style reminds us that he is a political outsider, someone related to the global wave of "independent" candidates emerging from the heat of social weariness caused by the ruling class with its lies and betrayals. Trump may offend millions of people with his outbursts, but it is exactly these outbursts which show that traditional politics are unable to change him. A real man, who does not change even when he is only a few steps away from the White House, is an attractive candidate because he defends the value of being true to oneself.
This is why Donald Trump is able to say whatever he wants; that he has at least been authentic in his statements against Mexicans, in particular, and immigration in general. Clearly this is a relative authenticity, porous and bound up in hypocrisy and error. Hypocrisy, because among the workers who built New York's Trump Tower, there were at least 200 illegal immigrants threatened with deportation by the magnate himself if they refused to work 12-hour shifts a week without any days off, and by error, because by accusing those who come across the border of being rapists and murderers, he fails to take into account that 73 percent of Mexican immigrants older than 16 years of age belong to the active labor force in the United States. The candidate’s xenophobic frivolity insults over 35 million people, 65 percent of which are Latinos (54 million residents) who represent 17 percent of the population he is seeking to govern.
A recent survey by The Economist points out that 63 percent of Republicans think that immigrants are "a burden" and it is highly likely that this percentage includes party candidates. However, as a result of tradition and ideology, while Trump has several competitors whose ideas may not differ materially from those of the billionaire, none of his competitors are able to fly the flag of nationalist supremacy with such impudence. Or rather, some are unable to, others should not, and everyone knows that it is not in their interests to do so. Jeb Bush is married to a Mexican. Marco Rubio is the first Cuban-American senator in the history of the United States. As the Republican leadership has already pointed out, in order to reach the White House, it is essential to obtain considerably more than the 31 percent of Latino votes that John McCain managed to get in 2007, or the 27 percent which Mitt Romney obtained in 2012. This is a mission that seems impossible if the presidential candidate accuses a large part of the electorate of being criminals.
However, against all recommendations, Trump persists with his caricature of Mexicans as criminals, and does not allow himself to give in to the moderation advised by the realpolitik logic. He has reason to believe that his cowboy authenticity is a profitable formula because the virulence of his comments have moved him from ninth to first place in the Republican presidential race, with 24 percent of voter preferences, compared to 13 percent for Scott Walker and 12 percent for Jeb Bush. His sudden rise means we should not underestimate him or fail to recognize his ability to understand the nature of power. From what we have seen and heard, it is his opinion that national greatness is built on and maintained by the functioning of an enemy and the battle can only be won if the leader, Trump himself, has sufficient authority to say and do what he wants, without being subjected to the cumbersome rules imposed by others. His ideas may seem despotic, but it is questionable whether they are more exaggerations than anomalies. Is there a politician who, in varying degrees, does not harbor similar fantasies? Is every presidential candidate’s dream one of limited power, enriched by democratic equilibrium, or is it the freedom that they can act without disturbances or complaints? We might wonder if Trump’s success does not express an ideological disease and a symptom of the evil which ails the entire political elite, forcing us to be constantly vigilant.
However, as demonstrated by Frank Underwood’s character in the "House of Cards" series, the fastest way to political failure is built on a foundation of unwavering devotion to the truth. Trump’s oral hurricane has led to economic losses amounting to around $50 million, a figure irrelevant when it is compared to his personal wealth, but very revealing in terms of the negative impact he has already been able to conjure up. True power does not respect limits; however, every powerful person must recognize their own limits before subjecting others to it. The question is whether someone with a wealth of more than $8 billion is aware of limits, or if he is willing to understand limits, just after he has finished demonstrating to the world that the seed of impunity is the nature of power.