Is Donald Trump the most dangerous man in American or just an old-reactionary fart? Despite losing the Iowa caucus to the conservative-Evangelist, Ted Cruz, the stink Trump has made over the past several months has left many worried about who will hold the Presidential seat by the end of 2016. Last month British MPs debated a petition calling for Donald Trump to be banned from entering the country, due to his comments and stance on Muslims entering the US and the myriad of other stupid things he has said regarding Mexicans, women, and others, incase he incited hatred. But the desire to ban Trump from the UK speaks more to the ugly desire to shield people from controversial and offensive opinions, and the degradation of Western liberal values.
Donald Trump’s proposed policy of banning Muslim’s from entering the United States has caused uproar amongst the chattering classes, and gathered support behind his unconventional campaign from all cross-sections of American society. There is an obvious populist appeal, drawing on tensions and fears surrounding terrorism and Islam, and the physical and philosophical threat that it poses to Western society. It is clear Trump draws on a reactionary conservative tradition that poses the ‘other’ and ‘different’ as posing a threat to the society in which they have entered, not sharing in the values or customs of their adopted country. His reasoning behind his politics often attempts to draw on the Constitution and upholding the freedoms guaranteed within it. But, how is he able to do this? How can he lay claim to the moral and political values he often degrades?
Trump’s ability to lay claim to liberty and the upholding of the political freedoms comes from the fact that the mainstream political parties and elites have given up on these ideals, a situation that is afflicting the whole of Western society.
Indeed, Trump’s policy on immigration is hardly miles away from that of his Democratic counterparts. Bernie Sanders, the love-y of ‘progressive’ America, has a barely discernible policy on immigration than Trump. Desiring to regulate immigration not only of Muslims but everyone, he believes they take jobs from Americans and drive down wages. Obama, also, fares no better, being able to boast that he has increased border controls and security, and deported record numbers.
Take, for another example, the denial of freedom of speech and the promotion of ‘safe spaces’ on campuses across the US, which has grew off the back of the support it draws from the ‘progressive liberal’ political elite. The promotion of identity and vulnerability over the once sacred American value has come close to sounding the death knell of ‘the land of the free’. As has happened throughout the West, the desire and intent to hold security – both physical and psychological/emotional – above the rights of the individual have come to undermine Western liberal values. The Obama White House has even called for Trump to be disqualified from running for presidential office because of his views on Muslims. It’s no wonder, then, that Trump can call seriously for the closure of Mosques and the denial of rights of individuals purely due to their religious adherence, while so-called ‘progressives’ deny free speech to citizens across the United States.
And what of the vitriol that has been laid on Trump supporters; described regularly as stupid, backwards, psychologically disturbed fools and irrational (code for: working-class). However, it is not uncommon to the way the political elite thinks about anyone but their own. Following the terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, US citizens were implored by President Obama not to be Islamophobes and to hand over their guns.
The trend to see the worst and irrational nature in people is true of both sides of the debate. While one sees the ‘other’ as an overseas, existential threat; the second sees its own citizens, the non-progressive classes, as the threat. There’s a bad smell on both sides of the American debate and the degradation of Western liberalism rooted in a belief in the reasonable nature of the individual, has paved way for right-wing reactionaries and populists to lay claim to being the defenders of liberty.