If Americans were up on their Cockney rhyming slang, this would be a perfect campaign slogan for Trump: positive, energetic and appropriately populist. Can’t you just see thousands of activists, sporting huge I Fancy a Donald buttons, holding up I Fancy a Donald posters and waving I Fancy a Donald flags?
Alas, Americans are way outside the reach of Bow Bells. Hence, though they may have borrowed our common law and mimicked our parliamentary system, the finer aspects of the English language, as spoken in the lower reaches of its native habitat, are still beyond them.
That’s a shame, for Trump’s candidature appeals to exactly the US equivalents of the kind of Englishmen who’d have no trouble grasping the allusion in the title above: the slightly rough salt of the earth.
This is the largest, and quite possibly dominant, swathe of the American electorate, precisely the demos in democracy. That’s why I wouldn’t discount Trump’s chances come November: he may be unpopular with the NYT-reading luvvies of the Upper East Side, but there are more Daily News readers across the East River who may respond to his rough and slightly vulgar appeal.
Actually, his indisputable vulgarity is one charge levelled against Trump, but since when is that a disqualifying trait in American politics? Bill Clinton, who was adored by the NYT crowd, masturbated while a barely post-pubescent intern talked dirty to him on the phone. Then, face to face with said intern, he proved to Freud that sometimes a cigar is more than just a cigar. If that’s not vulgar, I don’t know what is.
Mrs Clinton is hardly a paragon of refinement either, Wellesley or no Wellesley, and Trump will be running against her, not William F. Buckley, John Kenneth Galbraith or some other American patrician of yesteryear.
Unlike Hillary, Trump is hugely unpopular with various ethnic minorities, but it’s still half a year to go before the elections, enough time to do something about that. Trump’s economic views aren’t exactly dog-eat-dog capitalism, and he’ll probably present this minus as a plus in the upcoming months, which is the kind of message many minorities respond to. Also, he may well balance his ticket with someone like Rubio, an impeccably ethnic chap who speaks Spanish like a native.
One way or the other, Trump won’t win many votes at the periphery of the electorate, but his unashamed populism may well claim the centre. He may also appeal to the bulk of voters by being vociferously anti-establishment in politics.
Since I haven’t lived in America for the best part of 30 years, I can’t judge the depth of the people’s disillusionment with those who govern them. Yet one suspects that the eight years of Barack Hussein might have turned people’s original scepticism about politicians into downright disgust. The Donald is an outsider, and most will probably see this is an asset.
The Donald certainly understands economics better than Hillary does – his endless zigzagging from plenitude to bankruptcy has given him plenty of opportunity to find out what works and what doesn’t. Unlike Hillary, he has no experience in foreign policy, but it seems easy enough to reassure the electorate that no experience at all is better than the consistent experience of failure amassed by Hillary.
Perhaps a good move for Trump would be to select extremely competent advisers and divulge their names in advance, thereby reassuring voters that he won’t be flying by the seat of his pants. On balance, I’d trust his ability, certainly more than I’d trust Hillary’s, to put a good team together – running a business empire is good preparation for that.
But Trump’s highest trump, as it were, is Hillary herself. This utterly objectionable woman has been on the verge of federal indictment for quite some time now, but even in the absence of legal proceedings there are more skeletons in her closet than one finds in most cemeteries.
One hears all sort of rumours, from sexual impropriety to fraud to corruption to even murder, and most – possibly all – of them may well be false. But the words ‘smoke’ and ‘fire’ may spring to voters’ minds at the critical moment – and down goes Hillary.
It’s also not beyond the realm of the possible that Republicans are sitting on some highly compromising scoop, ready to go public if it looks as if Hillary may carry the election. I’d be surprised if that weren’t the case, especially if even an infinitesimal part of things one hears about Hillary are true, going back all the way to her Arkansas days.
Let’s put it this way – if I still voted in US elections, then, given Hillary as the alternative, I’d opt for Trump. This shouldn’t be confused with a ringing endorsement. It’s just that I’d see him as the lesser of two evils.
But in fact, elections in the US, and nowadays just about everywhere else, can be more accurately described as the evil of two lessers. That, I’m afraid, is the nature of universal-franchise democracy, something prophesied by Tocqueville and experienced by us all.