Trump’s presidential campaign may not be the last to successfully use scare tactics

The art of fear-mongering was one of the most marked characteristics of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign which, rightly or wrongly, landed him a plum job in the White House.

Since the beginning of the Bush-Cheney War on Terror, US citizens have been deeply worried about the launch of another terrorism assault on American soil, with far more devastating consequences and loss of life on a massive scale.

Working-class Americans, on the other hand, also feel less secure about their jobs, knowing that if they lose their jobs they will also lose their health insurance.

These sentiments are found across America, particularly in the so-called “Bible Belt” – a region of religious Americans including states like Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississipi, Kentucky and Alabama.

Trump, a wily businessperson who made his millions in real estate, played on some of these American fears to bolster his anti-immigrant populism campaign, firing up voters who feel despised by the governing elites in Washington.

During his campaign trail, Trump increasingly garnered support as he promised to shut down Mosques and register Muslims in America.

He further endeared himself to voters by promising, among other things, to build a big wall around the United States in an attempt to ward off drugs and illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Wittingly or unwittingly, Trump’s fear-mongering resonated with voters, the majority of whom included ordinary workers and white males bitter with Obama’s administration.

Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim populism is gaining fertile ground in Europe.

In France, polls show that Marine Le Pen, the current leader of the right-wing National Front, might do well in France’s next presidential vote in 2016.

Le Pen’s popularity has been attributed to her populist right-wing rhetoric against radical mosques and porous borders.

Hungary’s right-wing populist politician, Viktor Oban, is another politician gaining popularity as a result of his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Oban, who has in the recent past praised Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, has also vowed to erect a wall around southern Hungary in order to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees and keep Europe “Christian”.

In the Netherlands, Dutch MP and anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders hailed Trump’s election as the 45th US president, claiming it was “revolution”.

“A historic victory! A revolution! We too will give our country back to the Dutch!” he said on his Twitter account.

Wilders is gradually gaining popularity among the so-called Dutch fascists and extremists with his brand of anti-immigrant rhetoric, which includes calling for the deportation of Moroccans and Muslims in the Netherlands.

In Britain, anti-European Union campaigner and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage praised Trump’s victory and mocked the political establishment across the world.

“Today, the establishment is in deep shock,” said Farage in a statement.

“Even more so than after Brexit … What we are witnessing is the end of a period of big business and big politics controlling our lives.”

While right-wing populist politicians are dishing out hate and extremism, their popularity with the voters mean one thing – the establishment was not listening to the grievances of the majority of the people on the ground.

It is a hard lesson that Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her supporters learnt very late – and are still pondering following the shock of Trump’s stunning victory on Tuesday night. 

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

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Charles Molele
Guest Author
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