The legacy of Donald Trump’s campaign: the reinforcement of American exceptionalism – the ability to rise to the very top.
Donald Trump’s rise to the Republican nomination has been stellar – improbable even. As I have said many times in the past, nobody could have foreshadowed that a year later, Trump would have all but secured the nomination and be a whisker away from the highest office in the world.
Experts and history writers have already sharpened their pens and begun writing their verdicts of how Trump has changed the GOP, elections and American society. And as they write their pieces on how Trump has really changed the face of American politics, I shall write mine and mine is simple.
Trump’s rise reinforces the single great principle which underpins America’s exceptionalism: the simple belief that each individual can fulfil whatever they set their eyes to, so long as they have the will, the drive and the energy to make it happen.
And Trump’s campaign has reinforced that.
From the outset, nobody took Trump’s campaign seriously.
Early on in the campaign, they said that the rumours of a Trump candidacy was just Trump being Trump – after all, he had flirted a 2012 run before. They said that there was no way in hell that Trump could win the nomination, that in the early days many said that Trump’s fall would be as quick as his rise.
As he racked up wins, many believed that Trump will be stopped. As state by state fell, as the establishment rallied together in an attempt to stop Trump, as other options were being looked into, Trump still defied the odds and overcame them.
And tonight, Trump stands as the presumptive Republican nominee – a feat unlikely to change.
Trump’s candidacy has epitomised that simple belief.
Whilst his rise is unsettling and some would argue dangerous, Trump’s rise reinforces that great notion and is a true tale of triumph in the face of great adversity. He has defeated the odds and silenced the critics. That is truly exceptional and great – a feat that many Americans today should draw inspire from, even if they hate Trump.
It is great that a millionaire candidate with his own tower and many golf courses and hotels around the world can become the Republican nominee.
It demonstrates and shows that true spirit of American exceptionalism: again, the notion that no matter how rich you are or whether you were born with a spoon in the mouth or not, you can aspire to the top.
And it should be a story of inspiration that this American exceptionalism is not reserved for just the poor or new immigrants – but for all Americans – rich or poor; immigrant or citizen; black or white; gay or straight; Christian, Muslim or Buddhist.
Americans tonight face many challenges. The odds are truly stacked against them.
Jobs are leaving by the truckloads to Mexico, India and China. The economy is recovering, which is great news, but after seven long, hard years. Many Americans are still unemployed or underemployed. Those affected by the brunt of the recession in 2008 are still living with their parents or relatives. Some are still living in poverty.
Schools are failing too many, mistrust between groups remain high and inequality is still rife in America. Congress and Washington remains deadlock with most of the brunt being carried by the American people.
But yet in the face of these challenges where the odds are clearly and blatantly stacked against the American people, they can draw solace that this American exceptionalism is still alive.
Donald Trump’s rise reinforces that. He overcame the analysts, politicians and commentators who said that he cannot win. He shut down his critics. He defied the odds.
And in the same manner, I am optimistic that the American too can defy the politicians who say some things can’t change or that the challenges are too great. I am optimistic that through the strength and spirit of the American people, more and more people forge ahead to create a better life for themselves and their family.
It is not a journey that will be easy and it is perhaps in that regard that Trump’s candidacy failed to show – he literally steamrolled his way to the nomination.
But this is what Trump’s candidacy has taught us: everybody can find success in the achievement and fulfilment of their dreams so long as they have the will, the drive and the energy to make it a reality.
Or as Marco Rubio said in his 2012 GOP convention remarks, “We should be able to go as far and as high as our work and talent can take us.”
Trump’s story may not be a rags to riches tale, but its value does not diminish.
Experts will say he has crippled the GOP and changed the face of the electoral map for a whole generation.
I say he has revealed what is truly great about America – the strength of its democracy and its exceptionalism and power that even a narcissist, millionaire candidate who has insulted almost every racial group in America, can aspire to higher things.