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?
Clifton Roberts was born on Yukota Air Force Base in Japan, and attended and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. He believes that having experience both from abroad and within the United States provides him with a unique and cultured perspective. Professionally, he has a history of working with a variety of corporations. As he was born on a US military base, Roberts is an American citizen.
Roberts is running as the first nominee of the Humane party, a group whose primary focus is animal rights. Most of Roberts' political platform is informed by this affiliation. He supports a constitutional amendment banning the “slaughter and mutilation” of non-human animals, and granting legal personhood to all sentient beings – a category upon which he does not elaborate, but appears to extend beyond humans. A strict vegan himself, he proudly declares that his body is, and for the past 18 years has been, “free of any deceased, murdered, or tortured soul”. He also plans to pursue legislation to prohibit the use of Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, and expresses environmental concern in wishing to preserve existing ecosystems – and, again, the animals that maintain them.
Beyond animal rights and environmentalism, Roberts remains a left-leaning candidate. He supports the passing of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equality under federal, state, and territorial law for all people, explicitly regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. He supports homosexual marriage, and is opposed to the death penalty. He favors sustainable energy, and seeks to legislate an end what he calls the “non-emergency-based use” of such energy sources as fossil fuels and nuclear fission. He does call for a balanced federal budget, but wishes to accomplish this through reductions in military spending and corporate tax reform.
Roberts is likely to be an attractive candidate to people on the left side of the political spectrum, especially those particularly concerned with animal rights. However, he will be challenged to find any right-wing support at all, and his advocacy of such policies as meat elimination and animal personhood may present problems in securing even centrist or moderate backing.