America would be Trump’s banana republic

July 24, 2016

America would be Trump’s banana republic

by Fareed Zakaria

Over the years, I have watched campaigns in third world countries in which one candidate accuses the other of being a criminal, sometimes even threatening to jail his opponent once elected. But I cannot recall this happening in any Western democracy until this week. The Republican convention has been colorful and chaotic, but above all, it has been consumed by a vigilante rage, complete with mock prosecutors, show trials and chanting mobs. The picture presented to the world has been of America as a banana republic.

We have descended so far so fast that it is sometimes difficult to remember that this is not normal. It was only eight years ago that the Republican nominee, John McCain, interrupted one of his supporters who claimed that Barack Obama was an Arab and thus suspicious to explain that his opponent was in fact “a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

Contrast that with the tenor of this campaign, which has been set from the top by Donald Trump, who has repeatedly insisted that Hillary Clinton deserves to be in jail. He even promised that were he elected, his Attorney General would reopen the books and “take a very good look” at possibly indicting her, himself having concluded that she is “guilty as hell.” That might have happened in a Latin American country — 30 years ago.

The (just concluded Republican) convention (in Cleveland, Ohio) has been dominated by hatred of Clinton because it is the party’s only unifying idea right now. People have chosen a candidate who does not believe in the ideology that has inspired Republican leaders for decades — free markets and free trade, low taxes, limited government, deregulation, welfare state reform and an expansionist foreign policy.

In a breathtaking interview with the New York Times, Trump announced that he might not honor NATO’s guarantee of security to the United States’ European allies, practically inviting Vladimir Putin to destabilize Eastern Europe. That is a break not just with seven decades of Republican foreign policy but also with a core American commitment that has kept the peace since 1945. It is the most reckless statement made by a presidential candidate in modern times.

And yet, it is hardly surprising. Trump doesn’t even pretend to have an ideology. His main idea is that he is great, and if the country elects him, he will make it greater. “Share my glory,” cries Evita in the Andrew Lloyd Webber production, which is what Trump promises his supporters as well. It is ironic that Trump rails against Latino immigrants given that his campaign seems to mirror those of Latin America’s Peronists, believing in the strongman above any set of ideas.

The Peronist feel is reinforced by the cringe worthy emphasis on Trump’s children, who were filmed throughout the convention smiling beatifically and waving at adoring crowds from the royal box. (Bill Maher makes a similar point.) In good dynastic fashion, they are his key deputies in business and the campaign. As The Post pointed out, “there are as many Trumps speaking . . . as sitting senators.” In fact, a highlight of every evening has been a speech by a member of the family. And while the family got pride of place, Trump retainers were also showcased. Not one of the Republican Party’s five living former nominees (two of whom were presidents) spoke, but the manager of Trump Winery got a nice slot, as did an assistant to the kids.

The Republican Party has given itself up to a single family and its business interests. Its convention has become a prime-time platform for the enhancement of that family’s fame and fortune. Whatever happens to the party, the country and the world, the Trump brand will come out of this election with even greater global celebrity… Fareed  Zakaria

The Republican Party has given itself up to a single family and its business interests. Its convention has become a prime-time platform for the enhancement of that family’s fame and fortune. Whatever happens to the party, the country and the world, the Trump brand will come out of this election with even greater global celebrity, and thus with many more possibilities to affix its name to condos, golf clubs, suits and phony self-improvement courses. In fact, win or lose, one consequence of this election could be that, finally, Donald Trump will be worth what he claims.


6 thoughts on “America would be Trump’s banana republic

  1. Would the USA under Trump be any worse than what is in store for Malaysia, for that matter in many other countries given the mayhem the terrorists are causing.

  2. Watch the DNC at Philadelphia and we can decide who can win the right to occupy White House in January, 2017. Politics is not about policies and logic. Trump is not an ideologue. He is all about himself and his business. Win or lose, he will be a winner in terms of publicity.

    The cool and cerebral Hillary Clinton can lose because Americans want change, not an extension of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama Presidencies. In this regard, Tim Kaine and Bernie Sanders have critical roles to play to play. Down play Obama and Bill’s impact.–Din Merican

  3. With 21 Trillion national debt it matters very little who becomes president. In the end it is the citizens who will end up paying the bill. The so-called middle class and those who rest even below that will be the major contributors in the form of stagnant lower wages and standard of living. May be it is time to take a reverse trickle down approach. After having bailed out the banks to the tune of 3-4 Trillion may be some scheme that will allow the bottom half to accumulate wealth may help. The issues related to student loans, low interest rates and large deposits by corporations both government and private has to has to be addressed. Who will bell the cat? That is the question.

    We do not know the answers. It is time for the people of the US to decide and hold their government responsible. We in the Third World also face similar problems and are looking for answers election after election as those who we have elected continue to give us the same medicine. The Yugoslav saying, “tie the horse where your boss wants you to tie it even if you know that it will be found dead the next day” has grown from strength to strength despite the fact that we have seen for ourselves how it has destroyed that nation.

  4. Whatever one may feel about his rants, Trump has the common sense to say the US doesn’t have the right to lecture other countries. He realizes it is America’s foreign policy that is despised. He doesn’t want to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, but his detractors are too shallow to look past the delivery of his message to understand his actual words. His message to “Make America Great Again”, while cheesy, is saying there is something wrong with the US right now. And there is. Fix it.

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