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The Trump enigma

she, her, hers

It seems is incredulous to me that this country is considering Donald Trump a serious candidate for president. There, I said it. I just had to.

Initially, I thought it was a joke, one of the many Americanisms I have failed to understand in the 16 months I have spent here. Then, I found out it is not a joke. You are serious. He is a contender for the Republican Party nomination. Several people even believe that he will make a great president!

I am still unsure if this isn’t a national episode of Punk’d, but my American classmates assure me that Kutcher isn’t about to jump out of one of Perkins’ myriad bookshelves with Trump. Imagine my disappointment.

As an international student drawn to the United States by the plethora of opportunities it presents, as a kid in a third world country who grew up against a backdrop of civil disorder, riots and national corruption, as someone who came to this country attracted by its scientific advancements and individual liberty, I am shocked every time I consider that one of the most popular candidates for president next year is a man who believes global warming was created by the Chinese to hurt U.S. manufacturing, who recently dismissed a female competitor because of her looks and who made some frankly unrepeatable remarks about Mexican immigrants.

How very presidential.

I digress. This is, in fact, a column on gender, feminism and gender equality, so I am going to stick to what Trump’s nomination would mean for women in this country. You should be very scared.

Paul Solotaraff recently did a piece in “Rolling Stone” magazine, interviewing Trump on the campaign trail. In the article, Solotaraff describes Trump’s reaction to seeing Carly Fiorina on a television screen. Fiorina, by the way, is a candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Here’s the section from Solotaraff’s article:

Trump's expression sours in schoolboy disgust as the camera bores in on Fiorina. "Look at that face!" he cries. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!" The laughter grows halting and faint behind him. "I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"

Where do I even begin attacking that remark? How do I start taking it apart, when I am too flabbergasted at this display from someone who aspires to lead a nation? I understand that political correctness isn’t necessarily an indication of respect or mutual admiration and that politicians wear fake masks and lie through their teeth all the time, but this behavior in front of a journalist indicates a complete absence of fear of consequences, unabashed arrogance and presumptuous self-importance. This indicates lack of respect and dignity owed to a fellow human being, let alone a competitor and accomplished woman.

Then, I found out about the Megyn Kelly interaction, about how she had blood coming out of her wherever.

Oh, it gets worse. Apparently, Mr. Trump attains whole new levels of dastardly disrespect when the subject of the matter is a female candidate from the opposite party. He recently re-tweeted a follower’s comment about how Hilary Clinton could not be expected to satisfy the nation “when she can’t satisfy her husband” before urgently taking it down.

While I am not naïve enough to believe that the Lewinsky scandal will stay out of the spotlight during this election, I did expect a little more class than this display. Sorry, eight years of Obama have led me to expect candidates for the presidency to act—well, presidentially.

I went seeking answers, seeking to understand why Trump was dominating the airwaves, leading the Republican polls and doing major interviews. I watched the Republican debates and waited to hear one solid point on policy from Mr. Trump. I am still holding out hope for a serious comment on a major national issue, made without insulting any human beings, animals or neighboring countries.

It is also fascinating to consider how popular this disregard for political correctness seems to be among Americans today. For instance, in a recent poll among Trump supporters, several responses reflect attitudes that are apathetic and harmful to the voting diaspora. Vote for the comedic value, disregard for political correctness, freedom to say whatever and whenever, a collective middle finger to the establishment, making a joke out of the election process, and even, “wanting to see the world burn”—these are just few of the reasons why some ardent Trump supporters want to back this man into the White House. I refuse to think about what this says about the average American voter and national sensibilities because in that direction lies chaos.

Thankfully, there is also a lot of political commentary that suggests that nobody important is taking him seriously, and I can’t help but be relieved. Mr. Trump’s campaign is currently fueled entirely by notoriety, wealth, ill-advised humor and propagation of bitter stereotypes. While there has been lots of bombast about plans to nuke the Islamic State, build a great wall along the south border and replace the Affordable Care Act with something “terrific,” some of us do care about actual policy.

I cannot imagine America with Donald Trump for its president. It is too difficult a torment to bear, and I hope it shall not come to fruition. I am a guest in this nation, an immigrant, a student seeking wisdom and liberty in these shores. I care too much about this country to give Trump a shot in the big office.

If he does become president, well, I am looking into Ph.D. programs in Australia, just in case.

Nandhini Narayanan is a student in the Master’s of Engineering Management program. Her column runs on alternate Fridays.


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