How Not To Stop Trump

Posted on March 22, 2016



A specter is haunting the United States of America and it is not Hillary Clinton. Donald J Trump’s unbelievable rise as the most probable Republican nominee for the presidential race has many worried. The Economist Intelligence Unit has dubbed his potential presidency as a global threat (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-presidency-global-threat-economist-intelligence-unit-warns-n540416). On a scale of one to 25, it has awarded a President Trump a 12, the same number given to the possibility of a terrorist destruction of world economy.

Elsewhere, the neoconservative movement is up in arm against Mr Trump and 120 members of the movement wrote an open letter expressing how damaging his term in office would be (http://warontherocks.com/2016/03/open-letter-on-donald-trump-from-gop-national-security-leaders). Robert Kagan, a leading neocon, even went ahead and endorsed Hillary Clinton in a Washington Post op-ed (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-the-gops-frankenstein-monster-now-hes-strong-enough-to-destroy-the-party/2016/02/25/3e443f28-dbc1-11e5-925f-1d10062cc82d_story.html). He concluded the piece with the following line about the Republican Party: “The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.”

News establishments, throughout the country and elsewhere, are also in panic mode. CNN’s website repeatedly reminds us that Trump cannot, but should be stopped. The Economist dedicated a cover to Mr Trump dressed in Uncle Sam’s costume with the caption: “Really?” The leader in the very edition was titled: “Time to fire Trump” (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21693579-front-runner-unfit-lead-great-political-party-let-alone-america-time-fire-trump). But all this is not helping and Mr Trump still keeps rising the ladders of success. This actually reminds me of a Pakistani apocryphal story about negative political advertising that was once narrated to me by a senior journalist. A leading politician in the time of Ayub Khan went to the owner editor of a leading publication with the complaint that his mammoth-sized rallies were not being covered. After a long debate, the editor confessed that if he even tried doing that the dictator would ban the publication and cancel its declaration. The far-sighted politician then wrote a huge cheque and asked the editor to ensure that any negative story about him should be carried as lead or super-lead. The man eventually became ruler of the country until he was hanged. I could not independently verify the veracity of the story but it drives home a basic point. More attempts to stop Mr Trump in this fashion only gives him what he desires — more attention.

Fortunately, a better and cleverer way still exists to stop him. But more of that a bit later. First let me tell you why I also think he needs to be stopped. Mr Trump has a certain celebrity, owing to his very successful TV show and I too once was his fan. I even developed a blind spot for his birther controversy just because of that. But then he started his campaign, opened his mouth and brought me out from denial. He has the uncanny gift of bringing out the worst in people including, as we recently witnessed, in an otherwise admirably cool and suave Bernie Sanders. His campaign image is far worse than his potential presidency and threatens to destroy the very core of American society. In a previous piece (http://tribune.com.pk/story/1041093/americas-hobsons-choice/) I pointed out that if it turns out to be a race between Sanders and Trump America will fracture into two irreconcilable halves, something the country cannot afford.

The solution is one word: Hillary. In a striking contrast to Mr Trump, former secretary of state has brought out the best even among the neocons, who we knew unlike the people at Fox and in the Tea Party movement, were always smart. But democrats don’t need to worry about them. Sane people are rallying around her because her centrist position unites America.

Now only an investigation against her stands in her way to the White House. A 400 men strong National Security Division at the Department of Justice created by Bush junior and vestiges of his rule in the security apparatus, including intelligence agencies, seem hell-bent to stop her. They need to be convinced to stand down before the country melts down and loses its soft power. But what if they don’t?

A democratic response, instinctively, has come in the shape of Bernie Sanders. While there is nothing wrong with him, that is not the solution you are looking for. There is an undisclosed bias among voters, against every form of socialism that is not accessible to pollsters but will backfire on election day. In my view, Clinton beats Trump easily and Trump beats Sanders with comfort. An early nomination and a stable running mate like Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary John Kerry, is the answer.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2016.