Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is crushing it in the race to represent his party at the polls, and, as bizarre as it sounds, it’s time to start seriously thinking about an existence with the eccentric billionaire as the most powerful man in the world.
The former reality TV star and failed steak entrepreneur’s resounding overnight win in the key state of Nevada has all but cemented his spot in this year’s presidential election, putting him in a strong position ahead of next week’s “Super Tuesday” contests, where voters in a dozen states will cast ballots in presidential primaries.
But US politics experts are warning a Trump win in that race could lead to global disaster.
With mentions of economic unrest, hurling aggressive insults at global leaders, and handing over control of the world’s most sophisticated military force, news.com.au was left feeling largely unenthused about Trump’s America following an interview with senior lecturer at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre, David Smith.
“It’s not a subject anyone wants to think about, but the reality is now we have to,” he said.
“It’s very likely that Trump is going to get the Republican nomination at this stage. His likely opposition would be Hillary Clinton, and instinctively most feel that Hillary Clinton would beat him fairly easily. But then again everyone felt he wasn’t going to get far in the nomination race either.”
CAN HE REALLY PULL IT OFF?
From bursting onto the scene as a novelty, celebrity candidate to working his way to a runaway lead in the Republican primaries, the polarising figure has shocked both his supporters and critics.
He’s harnessed his public persona, and kept rolling with the aggressive attitude and firing out the no-holds-barred insults he’s become known for, but Dr Smith says, there’s no way of knowing whether Trump would adjust his behaviour once he’d moved into the White House.
“We don’t know whether he would recognise that he doesn’t know a lot about the areas of the presidency and delegate those areas to experts. I think that’s what a lot of people would be hoping, that the work would largely be done by expert advisers,” he said.
“On the other hand, it’s Donald Trump. He has a massive estimation of his own abilities, and if he gets a massive endorsement there’s every possibility he will go ahead and do those things he’s been talking about, like engage in trade wars and tighten borders with Mexico.”
Trump has been running on a very thin platform. On his campaign website he offers his position on only five issues: reforming immigration, trade, tax, care for veterans, and protecting gun rights.
On the road, campaigning in front of Republican voters and those he’s trying to turn, the veteran businessman has been more outspoken about his presidential plans.
From building a “great wall” to block unauthorised migration to the US via Mexico, to his plans to swiftly taking down China in the global manufacturing wars, Trump has been talking a big game. But what he is able to enforce is another issue.
“There’s no way he’ll be able to get Mexico to build the wall, he’s not just suddenly going to be able to displace China from the top of the world’s manufacturing economy. He wants single payer health care which is something a lot of Democrats would like but Hillary Clinton is currently running on a campaign saying you’ll never get that through congress and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to either,” Dr Smith said.
But Trump is not one to be deterred by the prospect of failure. His business record shows he’s had about as many massive failures as major successes, showing a “try anything and see what sticks” attitude to business, and now potentially politics.
“It’s very worrying to people who in the presidency are fundamentally looking for a safe pair of hands, but to supporters of Trump, what they feel is that president after president has betrayed them, so they’re happy to have someone who’s completely different to any other president before him,” Dr Smith said.
‘GLOBAL DISASTER’ WAITING TO HAPPEN
Dr Smith says the potential disaster of a Trump presidency could be felt globally.
“There’s a limited amount that the president can do directly to influence the economy, but things they do and say can have major effects on certain markets. Stock markets can react violently to certain announcements, and it’s quite possible that Trump could spook markets in a way that could have negative effects for the economy overall,” he said.
“If he’s going to get involved in the trade war with China, really, nobody is going to win that war, that is like courting global disaster. The two economic giants of the world being involved in a trade war would be disastrous. That’s not what the rest of the world and the majority of the US wants. He’s suggested he’s not going to get involved in as many actual military wars as his predecessors did, but given his generally aggressive demeanours, other countries might interpret a Trump presidency in hostile terms.”
So economic chaos and military action could very well be on the cards, but that’s not even the worst of it.
“The thought of him having access to the nuclear codes, given that at a rally recently he said that he wanted to punch a protester in the face, plus his total intolerance of the sect — it’s not a combination we really want to explore,” Dr Smith said.
There’s no guarantees, of course, that Trump will romp it in and claim the White House, but the prospect is becoming more real. Last month, the man himself claimed he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Ave and shoot somebody” and he wouldn’t lose votes.
HOPING FOR THE BEST
No one knows exactly what a Trump-led White House would mean. He’s well known for backflipping on his bold claims, but the best hope is that if Trump does take the top job he sticks to one statement he made last month: “When I’m president I’m a different person”.
“If he was president and everything he said had consequences, that would be serious, because now he’s dealing with leaders of other countries, global markets, and things that presidents do and say really affect markets,” Dr Smith says.
“Maybe he is such a talented actor and performer, that he knows his audience exactly, but I don’t have a huge amount of confidence that that would actually happen. His statement shows he understand people’s concerns, but the problem is why should we believe that claim. All that really shows is that he understands the criticism, it doesn’t show he’s going to change.”