US's nightmare an absurd reality

Winning ways: The Republican presidential candidate has rallied the crowds and another dreadful reality might face the United States in November. (Brett Carlsen/Getty/AFP)

Winning ways: The Republican presidential candidate has rallied the crowds and another dreadful reality might face the United States in November. (Brett Carlsen/Getty/AFP)

Donald Trump could actually be the next president of the United States. Just let that sink in. This is a man who actively demeans women, has encouraged violence at his campaign rallies, would ban all Muslims from entering the US and recently seemed undisturbed by an endorsement from a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
And yet this political outsider is poised to grasp the highest office in the land.

It was never supposed to happen. But here we are. This week in Indiana, in the primary that nobody thought would matter, the thing that nobody thought possible a year ago is really coming to pass. Trump is going to clinch the Republican nomination. He is really winning, as he always says. Only it’s not a joke or a catchy mantra – it’s reality.

And even he seems to understand how absurd that is. “It’s been an unbelievable day and evening and year,” Trump said at the beginning of his acceptance speech.

Unbelievable is one word for it. After the race was called for Trump on Tuesday night, Ted Cruz, the only thing standing between him and the nomination, suspended his campaign. This was never supposed to happen. Early polling had showed a tight race between Trump and Cruz.

And Cruz had thrown everything he had at the contest, from money, to a newsy presidential pick and a nonaggression pact with John Kasich. Right up to this week’s election, insiders continued to insist that delegate maths would protect the party from Trump’s nomination. 

But suddenly, with Cruz’s announcement, the spectre of a contested convention fell away and the Republican primary was a one-man show. One big, orange, frightening one-man show.

Beaming at his audience on stage in the Trump Tower, the billionaire  heaped lavish praise on people he’s disparaged the most, from women – he’s called them “dogs” and “fat pigs” – to Cruz himself. “He is a tough, smart competitor,” Trump said of Cruz, a man he’d earlier said that “everyone hates”.

The relationship between the two men has always been politically transparent, and this week was no exception. After all, Trump will need to win over Cruz’s evangelical base if he’s ever going to beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. So with Cruz out of the race, he went from being Trump’s opponent-in-chief to being his ally-in-chief.

And he does have some support in such shenanigans. No sooner had Cruz stepped aside than Republican chairman Reince Priebus tried to get out ahead of the narrative by calling for the party to unite behind Trump. “@realDonaldTrump will be presumptive @GOP nominee, we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton #NeverClinton,” he tweeted. And some, such as Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, have long said Trump’s just what the party needs.

Not everyone’s on board (Cruz, in one of his last acts as a presidential candidate, nuked the real estate mogul as a “pathological liar”), but it doesn’t matter anymore.

With all 57 of Indiana’s delegates under his belt, Trump has a breezy path to the 1? 237 count he needs to steer clear of a contested convention in Cleveland in mid-July. And he doesn’t have an opponent in sight.

Indiana was the moment when Cruz said that, if Trump wins again, “America will plunge into the abyss.” Maybe he was right – November is still a long way off.

Meanwhile the new normal in the US is a strange reality indeed. Trump is winning and nobody – not Cruz nor the entire Republican Party working in concert – can stop him. – © Guardian News & Media 2016

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