As the inexorable rise of Donald Trump continues, when are the spaceships coming to take us to your new planets, asks Hannah Dunleavy.
I live very close to a primary school and I work at home, which is about as satisfactory a mix as you’d imagine. Although I was grateful for it the other day when two little boys aged about seven walked past my open window having a conversation about one Donald J Trump.
“Who’s Donald Trump?”
“He wants to rule the America and he has silly hair.”
“He sounds funny.”
It’s a rare day that I’d ever champion the notion the future of a major world power should be decided by under-10s on a council estate thousands of miles away, but that day was one of them.
Last week appeared to be the week everyone who hadn’t already started writing about Trump, did. “I’ve not done it before, because I thought he was a joke that would wear thin” appeared to be only way to start a piece.
So, having been one of those that committed early, I took the week off and tried to ignore the ever-deafening question, “What in the fuck?” And I would’ve got away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky kids.
As we stumble from primary to primary, and Trump looks stronger and stronger, the conversation has started to feel last-ditch and ‘what if’-like. He can still fail to win, the nomination articles say, with a creeping desperation that wouldn’t seem out of place in the BBC studio when they’re clinging to the mathematical hope that England might make it out of the groups stages of a football tournament. He could still walk away from the Convention in Cleveland empty handed if Romania never score again.
It’s this possibility that caused Trump to launch into the latest in his increasingly unpleasant pockets of bullshit which have veered on occasions into what appears to be incitement to violence, at least in a moral sense. He’s predicting (or possibly threatening) riots if he doesn’t win the nomination. (“I wouldn’t lead it but I think bad things would happen.”)
Having spent almost a year writing about someone like Trump, eventually some of the things you predict will happen, happen. Of course the playground mentality was always going to descend into a conversation about cock size.
It’s less satisfying when you see the bullish way a candidate talks about foreigners and you can only see this ending one way. And then it does. And in the last few weeks violence has been everywhere in the Trump campaign; outside, inside and all the way through.
“Economist Intelligence Unit has placed Trump being elected President of the US as the sixth most dangerous thing that could happen in the world right now. Tied with a rise in jihadi terrorism affecting the global economy.”
Pictures of Trump with his crowd with their arms raised were among many things that led to Hitler comparisons. It was apparently to do the pledge of allegiance, but a Trump supporter was photographed doing a Nazi salute at another event, something she had – in her mind at least – a perfectly good reason for doing.
I’m a little cautious of Hitler comparisons, not least because it serves to equate 1930s Germany with 2010s America and I’m not sure that’s justified. The Germans didn’t elect a despot because they’d just endured the horrors of free healthcare.
Scuffles and protests have broken out at a number of recent Trump events, with Trump supporters reportedly manhandling protestors, possibly or possibly not because Trump has said things like: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
There’s also been violence outside events as anti-Trump protests caused an event in Chicago to be cancelled over fears for safety. Protesters claim they were pepper-sprayed by the police at another incident in Kansas City.
Rival Ted Cruz said that rarest of things, something I agreed with, saying: “When you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence… you create an environment that only encourages this sort of nasty discourse.”
Trump, of course, doesn’t see it that way. He also doesn’t think he’s racist. In fact, a number of African Americans, including former candidate Ben Carson have thrown weight behind Trump. (Or as a New York Daily News headline summarised it: “Handful of black folk support white supremacy by going on TV to bash Black Lives Matter, showering Donald Trump with love.”)
So, while the Chinese leadership is reportedly delighted at such a fine example of what happens if you let people vote, the Economist Intelligence Unit has placed Trump being elected President of the US as the sixth most dangerous thing that could happen in the world right now. Tied with a rise in jihadi terrorism affecting the global economy. (That is not a joke.)
I don’t claim to understand the choice America is making, but at least I know why they are talking to little boys in Cambridge about Donald Trump being President. It’s for the same reason my teacher told us about nuclear war. Because it might fucking happen.
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Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.