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Editorial

Don’t laugh

/ 12:12 AM March 08, 2016
Developer Donald Trump delivers remarks during his announcement that he will run for president of the United States, in the lobby of Trump Tower, New York,  Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Trump, the 12th high-profile Republican to enter the 2016 race, announced his candidacy in a free-ranging 40-minute speech in which he boasted about his ability to fortify the border with Mexico to prevent "rapists" from entering the U.S. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Developer Donald Trump delivers remarks during his announcement that he will run for president of the United States, in the lobby of Trump Tower, New York, Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Trump, the 12th high-profile Republican to enter the 2016 race, announced his candidacy in a free-ranging 40-minute speech in which he boasted about his ability to fortify the border with Mexico to prevent “rapists” from entering the U.S. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump. Don’t laugh, it’s no longer as farfetched—or as crazy—as it once sounded. After sweeping the “Super Tuesday” Republican primaries last week, the billionaire realtor and reality-TV star that many people had thought would be no more than a hilarious distraction in the US presidential race is now not just a serious contender but the Republican frontrunner no less.

How did this happen? What is America—or at least the Republican side of it—thinking by vaulting this man that many have called a clown and a buffoon to within striking distance of the White House? As Trump’s march to the nomination transformed from raucous side show to startling main event, his rhetoric has become more outrageous and bilious at each step. And the Republican Party—which likes to call itself the Party of Lincoln—now finds itself having to contend with a brash interloper who’s been enthusiastically embraced by the party rank-and-file for such extremist views as killing the families of terrorists (a war crime), building a physical wall across the entire US-Mexico border to keep out immigrants he had called “criminals” and “rapists,” and driving out all Muslims from America—just three of the most heinous promises to have come out of his motor mouth.

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That bid for a massive wall against Mexico was but the opening volley in the barrage of ugly, xenophobic, and plain vulgar language that has defined Trump’s candidacy as he slugged it out with other Republican presidential hopefuls in debate after debate, where Americans were treated to such new lows as Trump pushing back against female news anchor Megyn Kelly’s aggressive questioning by saying she had “blood coming out of her wherever.” This was after the Fox News host asked Trump about his past sexist comments, in which he called women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” Trump’s response was to amp up the misogyny and slam his critics as “politically correct fools.” Earlier, he also said that “if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her,” and tweeted that “if Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

And still he has triumphed in primary after primary, his legion of supporters shrugging off their champion’s potty mouth and seeing in it the frank talk they themselves are eager to say to their imagined list of America’s enemies—those that have supposedly weakened their great nation (read: made it less white), from Barack Obama and liberals in general to gays, feminists, blacks, immigrants, Muslims, Isis, China and other countries that supposedly take away jobs from ordinary Americans. Trump’s sense of invulnerability has only grown with each new appalling quip that much of the world boos but his fans lap up. “I love the poorly educated,” he has been quoted as saying. Another, only last January: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

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Substitute “somebody” with, let’s say, “Russia” or “China”—and the scenario becomes positively terrifying. “Is there any scarier nightmare than President Donald J. Trump in a tense international crisis, indignant and impatient, with his sweaty finger on the nuclear trigger?” asked the New York Times columnist and longtime international observer Nicholas Kristof. That is not a hyperbolic question, given Trump’s penchant for bellicose statements on the campaign trail. On China, he has rattled the saber by talking of payback for the lopsided US-China trade deficit; he wants to retaliate against the other superpower with huge tariffs, for starters. A thoughtlessly started tussle between the two largest economies in the world would have enormous global implications, not least to countries like the Philippines that not only trades heavily with both, but is also entangled with them in various other ways, foremost of which are the West Philippine Sea issue with China and joint security arrangements with America.

Trump becoming president of the United States is no laughing matter. It is the height of irresponsibility for the people of a country that insists on leading the world to even consider foisting on it a dangerous, trigger-happy gasbag whose every pronouncement so far fails to pass the test of seriousness and maturity. If conservative Americans still have not taken leave of their senses, they should rouse themselves from this nightmare and fire Trump for his fundamental unfitness to be Potus.

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