Donald Trump: The Controversial Candidate

Ned Bayfield looks at the most controversial man in politics.

Edited by Isabel Aruna.

Donald Trump, seen as the frontrunner in the Republican nomination race for the US presidency, has caused controversy yet again. Trump has failed to distance himself from new found support from none other than a leader in the white supremacist group the KKK. Trump was asked in a CNN interview whether he would disavow David Duke, a former “grand wizard” within the Ku Klux Klan who has been an outspoken supporter of the Trump Campaign; Trump replied: “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists… I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists”.

Instead of categorically denying and denouncing the group and their actions Mr Trump refused to “condemn a group that [he] knows nothing about.” Not only did this cause vast outrage from Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but it also forced the Republican House of Representatives leader Paul Ryan to rebuke the actions of Mr Trump. Paul Ryan stated: “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry”. Due to the comments by Mr Trump, the Republican Party has had to publically distance themselves from his campaign burdens in order to limit damage to the party’s reputation.

Similarly, Donald Trump’s somewhat untactful use of twitter has also caused controversy within political spheres. For a man who doesn’t know anything about white supremacist groups he sure does like to retweet them. This year on the 22nd of January, Trump retweeted a photo created by the white supremacist group ‘@WhiteGenocideTN’ which displayed his former party rival Jeb Bush crying outside Trump Towers. What Mr Trump might of failed to realise is by associating himself with this twitter account, he is not only giving a platform to a group that supports “the segregation of black communities”, but also one that believes that the “superior white race… is being diluted by foreigners”.  Now some may say this was a simple retweet of a satirical (I use that word very loosely) photo, but if his previous actions on twitter are anything to go by those people may be mistaken. For example, on the 28th February he retweeted a quote widely attributed to Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini; when questioned in an NBC TV interview on the purpose of this retweet he replied: “Mussolini was Mussolini… What difference does it make?”.

Now I am not an expert on political tactics but even I would hope the Trump supporters of this world, can see the damage caused to his reputation by Trump appearing to promote quotes from fascist dictators. However, perhaps his policies aren’t that dissimilar to what we might expect from an extreme right-wing ideology. After all Donald Trump’s use of rhetoric has led many to question whether his policy of banning all Muslim civilians and foreign nationals from entering the US, is that different to the racial prejudice European ethinic minorities suffered during 1930s. By isolating a whole religious identity as the sole problem for religious extremism, Trump within a single speech alienated around 3.3 million Americans. Impressive stuff from a man that earlier in the year claimed he is “the least racist person that you have ever met”.

Donald Trump seems to create controversy wherever his rhetoric takes him. Whether it be attacking ethinic minorities, failing to condemn white supremacist or creating Republican Party infighting, Mr Trump champions the use of controversy in politics in order to shock people into supporting his candidacy. With the final party primaries fast approaching only time will tell if the controversial nature of Donald will dissuade the public to vote for him, or whether it is in fact his Trump card.