An invitation to participate in a shared delusion

After winning seven out of eleven states on Super Tuesday, reality show host and entrepreneur Donald Trump is one step closer to winning the Republican nomination.

Trump’s logic-defying success is predicated upon his ability to tap into a poisonous, anti-establishment zeitgeist. The fact that his policies don’t trouble Twitter’s 140 character word limit in their complexity doesn’t seem to deter his army of zealous supporters.

Trump inhabits a world in which immigration can be solved by walls, terrorism by bombs, and male pattern baldness by half a bottle of hairspray and a comb. For his fans, Trump is not so much a prospective Presidential candidate as an invitation to participate in a shared delusion.

Trump is the mascot for a growing dissatisfaction with conventional politics. The world is beset by frustrating and intractable problems for which there are no easy solutions. Mass migration, global warming, economic inequality all weigh heavily on the public consciousness, yet no political figure is able to present a quick fix, mainly because none exist. Trump, however, promises that quick fix.

Unlike our own domestic politicians, who are constantly confronted by ‘tough decisions’ and ‘hard choices’, for Trump, everything is ‘easy’. Building a 50 foot high concrete wall across 2000 miles of variable terrain? Easy. Negotiating with the Mexican Government to make them pay for it? Easy.

Presenting the world in such stark, black-and-white relief, Trump has earned the reputation of being a conviction politician. Trump’s ‘principles’ are not troubled by such inconveniences as ‘mitigating circumstances’ or ‘fact’; he is totally uncompromising on his world view. However, the audacity of his delivery and the almost comic absurdity of his positions obscure the reality that he is nothing of the kind.

In fact, Trump’s actual opinions are notoriously difficult to pin down.

A former Democrat Party donor, Trump has been variously for and against an assault weapon ban, pro-choice and pro-life, and for and against socialised healthcare. He is a transparent populist, loudly declaiming whatever earns him the most exposure at the time. Trump’s only real conviction is to grow the Trump brand, a brand that thrives on controversy and outrage.

After Super Tuesday, Trump is firm favourite to compete for the Presidency of the most powerful country on the planet. The only solace for his likely opponent, Democrat Hilary Clinton, is the theory that the Trump vote has a ‘high floor’, but a ‘low ceiling’. That is to say that, while there are many who would still vote for Trump if, in his own words, he were to ‘stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody’, there are even more who, barring personality altering head trauma, would never vote for him.

While Super Tuesday has proven to be a dark day for those with a vested interest in the collective sanity of the United States, it is probably the best outcome for Hilary Clinton’s Presidential bid.