When Donald John Trump announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election at the Trump Tower to an audience of about a thousand supporters on a blustery New York morning on June 16, 2015, no one could’ve anticipated the impact that he would have on this election cycle. No one (aside from Ann Coulter) could’ve even envisioned Mr. Trump winning the GOP presidential nomination. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time – even Mr. Trump himself -, there was a leadership void within the Republican Party that was crying out to be filled.
The billionaire’s no-nonsense style, outsider status, business savvy and keen political instincts drew in the support of blocks of politically frustrated middle class conservatives, tea partiers and Ron Paul’s orphaned paleolibertarians, who were all looking for a champion to lead them and give their struggle a voice. In the following months, these disparate groups of voters organically coalesced into a powerful coalition which has propelled Mr. Trump’s candidacy from the fringes of the race to the summit of the Republican nomination leaderboard with surprising, albeit controversial, ease.
And to think, the teetotaler wasn’t even certain about running as late early 2015. There were real fears that similar to the general elections of 1988, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, Mr. Trump would not make a bid for the nomination despite giving indications that he might.
His giddying ascension in the polls has been met with incredulous wonder by the media and more established candidates who have long fallen to the wayside. His combative performances in the debates left his opponents tongue-tied, much to the delight of his supporters. His controversial off-the-cuff deliveries and political incorrectness are viewed proudly by his legion of followers. His war cry, Make America Great Again, has galvanized even the elderly to attend his lively rallies.
Mr. Trump’s in-your-face style has drawn a lot of flak from all corners, but only a fool would doubt that there is a method behind his apparent madness. As the former reality TV star has demonstrated repeatedly throughout his career, his audacity is always accompanied by a ferocious intelligence.
There is simply no denying that Mr. Trump has changed the face of American politics forever. And the prospect of a businessman being elected to the White House has rekindled century-old memories of the Roaring Twenties when entrepreneurs such as Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover occupied the Oval Office.
Mr. Trump’s nationalist populist brand of politics captured the imagination of the nation, and powered his victory in the Republican primaries. However, will the charismatic real estate tycoon be able to use an identical approach in his White House run, or will he pivot to the center and reign in his explosive personality? Will he be able to unite the party’s fractured base and win over the agitated social conservatives? Will Miley Cyrus move out of the country if Mr. Trump is elected?
Dr Sandra Lynn Kahn, PhD, has built a successful career as an executive consultant. In her work, she has been responsible for strategic planning in a number of diverse issues, including workforce development, aviation, and justice reform. Now running as an Independent candidate for President, she runs her campaign around the slogan “Fix government, build peace”, and proposes seven key points necessary for achieving these goals. Proposing that people innately desire a world free from war for themselves and their families, she argues that the more challenging of her tasks by far is to fix government, and devotes six entrants of her seven-track strategy to that pursuit. The remaining point concerns itself with building peace, the “easier” of her ambitions.
Dr Kahn borrows from both sides of the political fence in the content of her proposals. Sounding positively conservative, she advocates the need to reduce the cost of government by 30% via the elimination of bureaucratic waste, and to return the money saved directly to the people and their communities. She speaks of a responsible government built on lean inter-agency communications and citizen input. On the other hand, while acknowledging the importance of promoting business growth, she moves to the left in calling for a closer eye on workers' safety and environmental protection. Additionally, she seeks to accomplish her overall goal – building peace – by streamlining government to that purpose, but hers is a decidedly diplomacy-oriented pursuit of peace. She calls for disarmament talks and ceasefires, citizen summits and community dialogues, with less emphasis on military strength and projection than might please a conservative ear.
In the end, with input from all sides and ideas that never stray far into extreme territory, Dr Kahn's policies are comfortably centrist and unlikely to offend any side to a vast degree. Conservatives might object to her environmental concerns and idealistic notions of only modestly armed peace, while liberals would be more likely to arch an eyebrow at her calls for streamlining government – something often taken as code for reducing its size. But there is nothing in her platform to drive voters away in droves, and ultimately, her biggest problem may be the one she shares with all third-party and unaffiliated candidates: Extremely limited name recognition.