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It’s been quite a year so far. In the sporting world, people have called it the ‘year of the underdog’. The biggest representation of that was Leicester City Football Club’s remarkable triumph in England’s Premier League; from 5000-to-1 outsiders to top dog in the space of nine months. You also had unheralded Iceland, with a total population of just over 300,000, light up Euro 2016, going all the way to the quarter-finals.
Switching codes to rugby, my own province of Connacht, a region not traditionally seen as a stronghold of the sport with a franchise that was almost disbanded by Irish rugby authorities a few years back, impressively claimed the league title contested by sides from the Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
In the political world, it’s also been somewhat strange. We’ve had the much talked about Brexit in the UK, Colombia’s ‘no’ vote to the historic peace deal reached between the government and Farc followed by President Juan Manuel Santos winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts despite this big setback. Even back home in Ireland there was a protest vote of sorts when the electorate returned in numbers to a party that was seen as the chief culprits of everything that went wrong during and after the Celtic Tiger boom years. We’re a forgiving bunch it seems.
In such an environment, a Donald Trump US presidential victory would seem to fit the narrative, as unlikely as that now appears this late in the game. Nonetheless, in less unpredictable times, a brash billionaire promising to ‘make America great again’ (just the United States of America that is, not any other part of it and especially not Mexico) would appeal not just to rednecks but plenty of city dwellers as well.
Thus, with a strong whiff of anti-establishment air whirling around, it’s easy to see how the Trump card is attractive to many. He represents the middle finger to the old tried-and-trusted way of doing things. The system needs a little bit of a shake-up, a shock, and Trump would deliver that, both at home in the US and abroad. That’s the thinking (and the hope for some, the fear for others) anyway. Yet didn’t the outgoing Barack Obama offer a sort of new approach as well? Then again, don’t they all?
Throw in the fact that Trump’s main rival, Hillary Clinton, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence — even though if she is elected as expected she will become the first woman president of the self-proclaimed greatest country on the planet and therefore a significant new departure in itself — and the ingredients for a Trump triumph are clearly there. The US’s Electoral College system could also work in his favour; lose the popular vote but still make it to the White House.
So as much of the rest of the world looks on with trepidation at the chances, decreasing as they are, of Trump becoming the de facto leader of the ‘free world’, is it really a huge cause for concern?
He does hum to a different beat than most politicians, but were he to take power, how much of what he says he is going to do would he actually carry out? A good bet is not much at all. Indeed, he’s more likely to become the best-known figurehead on a stage of other political figureheads who in reality kowtow to the real movers and shakers of this world; the money men, of which Trump is one of course, but only one.
In fact, he might find out that he was able to exert more of an influence behind the scenes than being centre stage.
In the end, by going ‘radical’ as some see it with Trump, the US might just be opting for the ‘same old, same old.’ And exactly how the real powers want it to be. Plus cą change. Oh well, there’s always sport to provide us with the novelties.
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