"All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.” (G.K. Chesteron)
One has to admire but also feel a bit ashamed by the way North American newscasters try to comprehend, justify or just make sense of the Trump phenomenon. Clearly, it is unpleasant to watch the declarations made by the now candidate to the presidency of the U.S. This style of arrogance and unbridled cockiness always causes rejection and distrust among people on this side of the world. His anti-establishment rhetoric has reached a noisy, obnoxious volume and it seems the journalists covering the presidential race can only capture reactions of viewers in search of some kind of explanation. It is analogous to our own [Venezuela's] reaction: "How did we get here? Where did we lose our way?" and "What a pain this guy is."
Political experts use many theories to analyze the success that Trump has had so far. It's clear that the current level of attention is a consequence of his campaign being so underestimated at the start of the Republican primaries. But while the arguments for his success are many, they all center around the fact that the public are fed up with conventional politics and institutions. The anti-partisan discourse is fundamental to understanding current political leadership. Disenchantment with politics is common among business leaders and the admiration for strong, independent, practical leadership is another factor that unifies the New Yorker's followers.
Criticisms of Trump's message are concerned with either political correctness or deception of voters. As we've seen in every other election, emotions play an important role. It's not so much what you say, but how you say it. Few people ever wonder about what they don't hear and why they don't hear it. The businessman's direct rhetoric carries a supra-existential value for a good number of Americans. What he says doesn't matter even to his opponents, it's just the way he says it. His style may be hard to watch, but it clearly strikes a nerve and makes its mark. It also seems to generate a sense of loyalty to his following that he stands firm in his convictions. And it doesn't matter that those convictions contradict an important part of the American dream.
Followers of Trump and Obama do have one thing in common: the idea of change. Obama's promise for change, the "Yes we can," was the cohesive element in both of his campaigns. And although the political establishment in the giant to the north may not recognize it, Obama may have actually paved the way for Trump. How? Nobody has worked harder in financing people's values and opinions than the current president of the U.S.
With Clinton's campaign now fully established, we can expect an onslaught of attacks against the Republican candidate. However, what we've seen in the past two presidential terms tells us that a lack of any real content or plan, combined with a huge media hype and constantly changing, obliging political views will continue to convince many gullible voters that the pragmatic "tough guy" is a better choice. Throughout history, particularly in times of decline, the idea of a proverbial lifeboat appeals more strongly to people's emotions. In this case, many are predicting that the lifeboat doesn't float, but is dense enough to sink an entire political system.
The Republican candidate won't have it easy facing the now veteran candidate Hillary Clinton, especially when we consider the way minority voters in the U.S. reject populist, nationalist discourse. Nevertheless, the seeds for that discourse have been planted for almost a decade now, seeds that grow fractures and ruptures and put to the test a country's institutions. We'll watch from here and see just how much moral and institutional willpower the empire has left. Change for the sake of change, or weak for strong.