ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Plutocracy, Populism and the 2016 American Election

Even as the plutocracies of the Republican and Democratic Party represent the same kinds of power interests, there are huge policy differences between even the most corporatist Democrats and the most “moderate” Republicans, especially on social issues. The new President, from whichever party, will have to address the power that corporate and financial institutions wield over politics in the United States. 

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican Partys presidential nomination last summer, many dismissed him as a joke. Yet he has become the frontrunner for his partys nomination by engaging in explicit racial demagoguery, calling entire groups of people rapists, terrorists or criminals. Such rhetoric was unacceptable in American public discourse. Even as George W Bush was commencing his aggressive wars after 9/11, he was emphatic in his public statements that Islam as a religion was not to blame and that Muslims in America should not be targeted. Trump espouses no such reservations.

There is a consensus amongst political pundits that even if he was to win the nomination, Trumps views are too extreme to win a general election. This may be nave: right-wing politicians who project themselves as strong men often do better than conventional wisdom expects. Few people, even in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), expected the mandate with which Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. A more apt parallel might be with Ronald Reagan, who at the end of 1979 was considered too right-wing for the American mainstream and a bit of a buffoon. Not only did Reagan sweep to the Presidency, he changed the contours of American politics for a generation to come. The Trump candidacy is by now a real enough political phenomenon that one cannot discount the possibility of a Trump presidency and all its attendant consequences.

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