Trump’s resilience on the road to power

Trump is least sensitive to criticism about his assertion that Russia should attack NATO

Dr Moonis Ahmar March 12, 2024
The writer is former Dean Faculty of Social Science, University of Karachi and can be reached at


Donald Trump was never a dead horse. Having faced defeat in November 2020 presidential elections, he still refused to accept that he had lost to Joseph Biden and alleged that the elections were rigged and manipulated by his competitor. On 6 January 2021, Trump’s supporters instigated, barged into Capitol Hill and tried to tamper with the election results. Despite facing charges of corruption and insurrection, Trump remained resilient and won a number of primary contests to seek a ticket as a Republican Party presidential candidate once again.

Nikki Haley, a former American representative to the UN and Trump’s former presidential competitor in the Republican Party, was hopeful that she would win the candidature. Her wishful thinking was let down by Trump’s victory in several state primaries where he climbed the stairs to regain a Republican presidential ticket. As a result, she decided to withdraw from the race of Republican presidential nomination with a calculation that unlike Trump who is 77, she being 52 had enough time to run for US presidency in 2028.

So, how will Trump’s potential success in the upcoming presidential elections impact the US and what will be the ramifications of the same on the world? Moreover, to what extent will Trump will revert to his policies reflecting his anti-migration and anti-Muslim bias?

Trump is an ideology that has resurfaced in the wake of Biden’s failure to deliver as President. Trump’s resilience to fight for success in the November 2024 presidential elections is unprecedented because no other candidate who was defeated after completing a term is ever inundated with dozens of criminal charges. If he is able to run the presidential race, his competitors will be Biden again along with Kamila Harris. With Haley’s withdrawal from Republican Party presidential nomination race, Trump will face no obstacle to receiving endorsement from his party in July convention. In that case, it will be the rewriting of US history that a sitting president who lost November 2020 elections will take another chance.

In 2020, the situation was unfavourable for Trump due of his xenophobic and morally aggressive behaviour during his tenure, which alienated a majority of non-white and Muslim voters. On the other hand, Biden may not be a popular vote either in 2024 because he failed to prevent Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Trump, tried and tested, will have no different situation. African-Americans, a traditional vote bank for the Democratic Party, may maintain their position in 2024 elections but slightly incline towards Trump for his renewed call for America first and anti-Biden stance.

Trump’s resilient road to power needs to be examined on three sides.

First, his aggressive posture to regain what he terms the lost ‘glory’ of America calls attention. Trump has made it clear that if Biden is re-elected, the US will face serious Chinese threat undermining its economy. Trump is least sensitive to criticism about his assertion that Russia should attack NATO and the US should not support the Atlantic Alliance unless it agrees to share the financial burden. It is certain that if Trump is re-elected he will reverse Biden’s policy to render massive US support to Ukraine against Russia. Alleging that the ‘deep state’ like CIA and Pentagon along with State Department tried to undermine his authority when he was the President, Trump is mindful that in case of his re-election the military-industrial complex supporting Biden will try to challenge his foreign policy agenda again.

Second, it is the ideology called ‘Triumpism’ which will be Trump’s source of strength during his election campaign. If Haley’s supporters were a middle-class educated strata of the American society, Trump’s vote bank would still comprise blue collar workers, unemployed citizens and anti-immigrants and anti-Muslim advocates. If he, however, fails to change his strategy and stick to the culture of ‘populism’, Biden may manipulate his political weaknesses and remind American voters that in case of Trump’s re-election the US will face international isolation and domestic polarisation.

Can the US afford to plunge itself into another cycle of racial schism which was obvious during Trump’s reign? American people may not have forgotten how indifferent Trump was when the African-Americans faced periodic lynching by police. Unlike Biden under whom sharing of power and inclusive mode of governance is a reality, during Trump’s days, exclusive power structure where key positions were held by white American males generated a sense of deprivation among the non-whites. Reverting to Trump’s era and perceived discrimination of non-white and Muslims will be a nightmare for those who still feel ashamed to remember how intolerant Trump administration had become to Muslim immigrants to the extent that it banned the entry of citizens of six Muslim countries.

Third, a perception prevails in a segment of the American society that Trump is a dangerous man and his rule caused enormous damage to the US. Trump is relatively younger than Biden. Those from Democratic Party are wary of his success if he is elected for a second term. In that case, his party should have looked for some young, energetic and dynamic personality instead of Biden who is criticised as a status quo-oriented person. However, Biden will still remain a preferred and dominant choice for voters owing to the potential risks involved as a result of Trump’s victory.

The US is grappling with numerous critical issues ranging from economy to race relations and foreign policy challenges. ‘Triumpism’ was tested from 2017 through 2020 and proved to be dangerous for the country’s national interests particularly in terms of the country’s unity. The exclusive nature of Trump policies when he openly favoured white American males agonised a majority of people. Recently, Trump justified his policy of banning travel to the US from six Muslim states and erecting a wall on the US-Mexico border to prevent influx of illegal migrants. The prospect of how the game changes in November offers an interesting insight as of now.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2024.

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