Political Analyst Andrey Manoylo Weighs in on the Strength and Weakness of the Republican Nominee
On May 26, Trump obtained the right to become an official nominee for the position of U.S. president from the Republican Party. By that time, he remained alone in the electoral race: Cruz and Kasich withdrew their candidacies, not being able to withstand the competition with the eccentric billionaire.
Trump has 1,238 votes from the delegates of the GOP National Convention, which will take place in Cleveland in July.
For Trump, crossing this threshold means acquiring a kind of “majority stake” in the Republican Party, 50 percent plus one vote, which opens his path to the presidency. The sole remaining obstacle standing in the way of Trump’s Holy Grail are the Democrats, whom he will, undoubtedly, crush. Despite all her presidential ambitions, Hillary Clinton does not, in reality, stand a chance against Trump.
Trump is the only Republican candidate. His relentless Republican opponents, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, have withdrawn their candidacies, not being able to withstand the heat of the battle. In their attempts to overcome Trump, they all placed the wrong bets and lost.
On the political Olympus of the United States, Trump cuts such a remarkable figure that he is already not only considered for his leadership qualities, but as a marvel that has engendered a special, quasi-incomprehensible “Trump phenomenon.” Trump does not fit into a single category, a single fixed notion held by Americans. He is full of contradictions, but these contradictions coexist organically in his image and become a part of his charisma. He is at times compared to Kennedy and at times to Godzilla. Moreover, people recall that Kennedy, similarly to Trump, had enjoyed a meteoric rise to the heights of power and met his end in Dallas in a most unfortunate way. Which, they say, awaits Trump if he does not stop acting up and subverting the foundations that American society lies on.
In Russia, Trump is compared to Zhirinovsky* — they are indeed unusually alike. However, everyone must decide for themselves which one is the original and which one is a caricature. The Trump phenomenon has a rather simple explanation. He is real. He does not play the role of a political leader capable of uniting a nation, he really lives what he does and always remains true to himself. This innately charismatic leader is a typical demagogue capable of enthralling and leading a crowd.
There are a lot of contradictions in Trump’s image. He is a maverick, a “tearer of veils,” a political hooligan. He not only conquers the public, he provokes it, shocks it and, with his speeches, slogans and calls, brings it to a state of near-hysteria. Moreover, he is always quite specific and he is a man of action who himself became a billionaire as a result of his inexorable will, persistence and personal qualities. When Trump claims that he will deal with America’s problems and restore it to its former greatness, people believe him.
To be sure, he also dispenses promises, many of which are mutually exclusive, but the average citizen forgives him everything. And such an attitude toward Trump simply infuriates the U.S. political elite. Trump does not belong to the circle of representatives from the “old families,” which came to the United States as long ago as the Mayflower; he is a parvenu who must by all means be taught a lesson and serve as a cautionary tale for future generations and potential followers. In their collective understanding, Trump’s election as U.S. president carries for the country an even greater threat than the “neo-imperialist” ambitions of the “up-and-coming” Russia, which is why, they believe, he must be stopped at any cost. To this end, the Republicans are ready to unite with the Democrats, even if it is at the expense of their party’s interests. Hatred truly unites, and absolute hatred unites absolutely.
However, they are confronted with an extremely strong rival. He is independent because he finances his campaign with his personal capital, which is why he is able to challenge entrenched political conventions and the rules of the game.
At a time when his competitors — Democrats and Republicans alike — believe that they are fulfilling a special mission “sanctioned from above” that brings light, values and freedom, Trump approaches politics on a project basis: To him, the presidential elections are nothing more than an additional business project. Trump is a supporter of strong government and the revival of the United States’ power and authority, which has significantly fallen during Obama’s time as president; he believes in determinedly combating financial “bubbles.” But if he believes that the prospect of restoring the United States’ sovereignty is hopeless, he will treat it as a hopelessly unprofitable project — divide it and sell it for parts.
It is curious that Trump is so strong that he is forcing his style and political combat maneuvers on his rivals. And now his main opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton, ** is forced to copy his methods of working with the electorate and even his political rhetoric. It was Trump who first “blew” Americans’ minds with the statement that the U.S. should not go to war with Russia, but instead maintain friendly relations with it because it is a great country. Soon, Clinton repeated this statement word for word.
Still, if Trump becomes president, the United States’ foreign policy toward Russia is unlikely to change. His statements on the need to immediately establish relations with the Russian government and “to call Putin” right away more likely reflect the billionaire’s desire to come together with his opponent in a tight-knit race. Trump is stubborn and persistent and won’t retreat and recognize Russian supremacy until they bust his nose. This is why Russia doesn’t expect any historical turnarounds from Trump for now.
Be that as it may, if Trump wins the presidential race, America will face a complicated period. He will either restore the power and authority of the United States in a changing world or contribute to its final demise. He will dismantle Pax Americana and focus on an internal battle with the elites, who will inevitably rebel against him.
With Trump in power, the United States will be enmeshed in resolving its internal problems and eliminating divisions, and won’t have time for Russia, Ukraine and Syria. The world will finally be able to breathe easily.
The author is a professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University and a member of the scientific committee of the Security Council of Russia.
*Editor’s note: Vladimir Zhirinovsky is a former Russian politician famous for shocking statements and ultra-nationalist rhetoric.
**Editor’s Note: the author mistakenly referred to her as Senator instead of former Secretary of State.