Explaining Trump to Kenyans

Many Kenyans as Americans are perplexed at the now inexorable rise of Donald Trump to be Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Unless a miracle happens, he is will slug it out with Hillary Clinton— a woman idolized and vilified in equal measure— in the November elections. If he is the Republicans’ choice wins, he will become potentially the most powerful man on earth, in charge of many things, not the least, nuclear weapons.

And the world is scared shitless at the though of it. It means the end of the world to many. people. Many Americans are probably checking how fast can they drive to Canada. In 2012, my German friend, Carol Blink, warned me that there  was a renewed sense of Fascism that was slowly rising in the Western World.  I thought she was being overly paranoid and buying too much into conspiracies. Little did I know that three years later, Trump, the man I have admired deeply as an entertainer (his Comedy Central roast ranks as a work of art and Antony Jesselnik killed it for me), is now a likely  presidential nominee.

Trump rose to the top by saying some of the vilest things about Mexicans, Muslims, women and everyone he deems worthless in his quest to ‘make America Great Again’.In the meantime, he declines to acknowledge that he knows David Duke, a one-time Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

There is nothing Trump will say that will stop his voters from voting for him. He said a while ago that his supporters love him so much, that he can stand in the middle of the 5 th Avenue in Manhattan (that is like standing in the middle Kenyatta Avenue) and shoot someone and he will still not lose a single vote.

There are theories as to how we ended up with Trump. Some say, it is because the Republican party has been losing touch with reality over the last two decades. Their views on gays, reproductive health rights, immigration are at variance with what the younger generation wants. Little wonder Trump supports Planned Parenthood, even as Rubio and Cruz swear they will not support Planned Parenthood, essentially throwing the right to abort into jeopardy. The very things the republicans are resisting are the very things that endear the democrats to the people.

Some say it is the division at the top leadership of the GOP. Over the years, they have refused to attune their ideology with changing times. Over the years, blinded by either ignorance or arrogance, they did not realise that technology and globalization were eroding jobs from the American market. Over the years, they have frustrated any legislation, that was going to make governance possible, and the last six years in particular, have seen Obama use executive orders if he was to get anything done. Even younger republicans like presidential candidate Marco Rubio and House Speaker Paul Ryan seem to be stuck in the past, swinging more towards the extreme right, effectively muting any chance of the party waking up to the reality that it 2015.

Since 2008, the republican top leadership has struggled to find a credible leader. Jeb Bush was touted as a possible captain, but then, Trump happened and declared him ‘low energy’ killing his presidential dream instantaneously. John McCain was considered too old and he made it impossible for himself by electing Sarah Palin who was rejected by even moderate republicans. Credit that they were running perhaps the smartest politicians in America’s history.  Mitt Romney, while a successful businessman, avuncular, equally blundered in his private conversations that came out as racist at a time when race is thorny issue. This year has been no different. Hence the rise of Donald Trump.

Observers have noted, that his popularity stems from the fact that he says certain things that certain American families speak at their dinner tables. Since America is the land of political correctness, it helps when they find a vehicle that is so unPC. Nothing like their support to remind us that they approve of everything he says. And every insults he trades.

You see those moments when some people in Central Kenya cheer Moses Kuria when he makes circumcision jokes aimed at Raila. In CORD People  are always delighted in Johnson Muthama comes out unhinged and humiliates the president in public rallies? That is who Trump is. It is purely a matter of expediency. .

Think of Trump as someone like Mike Sonko. Or Babu Owino. If you are educated, have that degree or masters, you will wonder what makes them wildly popular in certain  parts of the population. Indeed, the numbers indicate that Trump’s big support comes from White conservative males who still think that the idea of America as a superpower is feasible and sustainable. He constantly scores about 30-40 % of the votes and drawn mostly from suburban and exurb parts of traditionally republican states. The crowds there are mostly palpably anxious white people who think, his message of ‘Make America Great Again” is a good campaign slogan.They are pining for the good old days.

But there is something these people are protesting against. And that is the corporate politics or what they have called establishment politics. Which is basically, a condemnation of career politicians whose work is to take bribes and donations from the rich so has to pass legislation that only serves their (the rich’s) interest. Otherwise, why would anyone vehemently oppose Obamacare, noble as it is? This version of politics is no longer feasible and it only leads us to the things like the Financial Crisis of 2008. And wars.

Bad politics isolates and condemns a large chunk of the population into poverty and ignorance that always comes back to bite. In Kenya for instance, we have always insisted that people need have degrees so as to serve public office. Yet, the learned elite have overseen  the looting and haemorrhaging  of our taxes, it is funny why we trust learned people so much. Take Waititu and Kidero for size. We all lined up against Waititu, thinking that Kidero will do something, but he has ended up being the worst disappointment  and he will leave Nairobi worse than when he came in, despite running the largest budget of any country.

That is why it is easy for individuals to come out next year and like joke elect Sonko. You know he is not the brightest bulb, you don’t expect much from him and the threshold of disappoint is so low. Ultimately, since corruption steals opportunities, stalls dream,  a large chunk of the population has never stepped into the university. In Kenya, since independence, the number of university graduates is less than 500,000. That means the other are over 44 million people who do not understand why corruption is terrible cancer. And the half million who knows better are so apathetic, their voice doesn’t count anymore.Besides, they help in voting the kleptocrats into power who rob from the poor.

So, just know, as long we have masses who are unhappy with the administration of learned people that takes them for a ride after every election cycle, they tend to lower their expectation and can elect anyone whom they think embodies their basest expectations.

That is the reason at certain times a section of the Kikuyus (often a substantial number ) will turn to a Moses Kuria or Kabogo for that timely circumcision joke to silence or distract the opposition. Of course there are always condemnations from the learned Kikuyu folk, or moderates, but their intervention on social media means nothing to the makanga or the man in the village. Same way for CORD. A section  of CORD will always cheer Muthama chanting (Toboa! Toboa! Toboa!) in a rally just so as to feel better about as the president is being derided. Because, after all, with all the corruption happening and nothing is being done, they can revel in the insults, for it makes them feel better.

So, the world over, whenever there is a huge chunk of a population that is dissatisfied with an administration , they have always expressed their disgust by voting people who are anti-establishment. Ala’ Sonko, Trump and (insert any populist with half-a-brain).

It also explains how some brutal murderers and dictators came to rule the world.