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Sunday 11 October 2015

Comment: Trump card or joker's wild?

Posted in: Comment
By Politics and religion commentator Craig Young - 30th July 2015

Hair-raisingly awful?
Recently, Donald Trump announced his ambition to run for the Republican nomination and even more surprisingly, he's ahead of the field. But can he beat Hillary Clinton, and what will happen to the 2016 US federal elections if he doesn't?

On the face of it, Donald Trump might seem to be a dream candidate for the Republican Party. Born in 1946, son to Fred Trump, a real estate developer, Donald Trump worked in his father's firm Elizabeth Trump and Son, attending the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. He inherited the company in 1971 and remains a significant presence in US real estate and a media celebrity. He is also former host of The Apprentice, a series in which entrepreneurs are given seed capital to make it big and see if their business ideas have momentum. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and anthropology. As a businessperson, his instincts can't be faulted, renovating the bankrupt New York Commodore Hotel and transforming it into the Grand Hyatt. After going through a rocky period due to a bad casino investment amidst the debris of the 1987 global stock market crash, he bounced back in the late nineties, and owns several eponymous pieces of multimillion dollar New York property- Trump World Tower, Trump Place, Trump International Hotel, and not only in that city- there are namesakes in Chicago, Toronto, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, although the latter reportedly has empty residential space aplenty and there are still reported casino property headaches in Atlantic City in New Jersey. He currently also owns an international golf venue in Ireland. Trump is estimated to be worth $US 10 billion at present, according to US federal electoral regulators (August 2015).

Until 2011, Trump could best be described as a political opportunist. He had made donations to both the Republican and Democrat Parties, but in 2011, he became involved in bizarre conspiracy theories that incumbent US President Barack Obama was "not an American-born citizen," which is known colloquially as the "birther' conspiracy. Despite his science degree, he seems to embrace other junk science nostrums such as the anti-vaccination argument that serum injections "cause autism" and that human-centred climate change is a "myth." He is widely admired in Israel and a supporter of right-wing Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu there and favours troop deployment against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and supports expanded military expenditure as a result.

As for his personal life, Trump has had three wives- Ivana Zelnickova (m1977, div. 1992), Marla Maples (m1993, div.1999) and his current wife, Slovenian-born Melania Knauss (m.2006). He has five children from his three marriages and seven grandchildren. Trump claims to be a Presbyterian, although more recent reports indicate he may actually be a member of the fundamentalist Calvinist Reformed Church of America. Despite his own chequered experiences of serial monogamy, Trump states that he is opposed to LGBT marriage equality. He is also anti-abortion, opposes gun control, supports liberalised state gambling legislation, and has made controversial remarks against the Peoples Republic of China as a superpower rival to the United States as well as derogatory remarks about Latin American immigrants to the United States in the context of "crime and drugs" and disparaging remarks about former Republican presidential nominee and war veteran John McCain. Problematically for New Zealand, his statements about free trade are somewhat troubling, albeit focused against Mexico (despite the North American Free Trade Agreement), China, Japan and South Korea- which may cause headaches for New Zealand, given China's significance as one of our largest trading partners. He opposes the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's federal comprehensive health insurance programme. Predictably, he opposes raised corporate taxation and stronger environmental protection policies, and supports the death penalty. He also does not believe that most disability assistance requests filed under social security legislation are authentic and favours privatising social security in the United States, ideally through religious providers, which may cause problems for LGBTI service clients.

Trump has declared himself a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, at first narrowly in front of Jeb Bush but in more recent polls, ten points ahead of Republican rivals Scott Walker (Republican Governor of Wisconsin), Jeb Bush (former Republican Florida Governor) and Rick Santorum. His erratic, populist style leave many suspecting that he won't be able to adequately combat Hillary Clinton's discipline, motivation, focus and credibility on core issues such as foreign policy. Even many centre-right commentators, both in the United States and abroad, acknowledge this. They fear that if Trump maintains this momentum, the United States will experience another four to eight years of Democrat rule. Promises, promises.

Tim O'Brien: TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald: New York: Warner Business Books: 2005.
Wikipedia/Donald Trump: http://en.
Gay and Lesbian Advocates And Defenders: http://www.
On the Issues: 2016 Republican Presidential Candidates: Donald Trump:

Politics and religion commentator Craig Young - 30th July 2015

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