Perhaps it was a mistake for Donald Trump to go heavily into the golf business.
In 2014 he bought Scotland’s famous Turnberry course, since 1977 part of the rotation of courses on which the Open Championship was played. A year later the Royal & Ancient Gold Club announced that Turnberry would no longer host the Open because of Trump’s racist attacks on Muslims.
In 2012 Trump bought Miami’s Doral country club, which has hosted professional golf tournaments since 1962. Following the 2016 tournament the PGA announced that it would no longer sponsor the event at Doral because of Trump’s racist statements about Muslims and Mexicans. Adding insult to injury the PGA also said Trump’s slot in the schedule would be given to Mexico City.
I’m not about to suggest that pro golf is progressive in punishing Trump. When in doubt, follow the money. Professional golf has become a huge, international business. The European tour plays several important tournaments in predominantly Muslim countries. The PGA has been looking to expand into Mexico for a while, and sponsors a developmental tour in Latin America. Publicly slapping Trump is good for business.
Therein lies Trump’s Achilles Heel: corporate America hates him. The great rap group, the Coup, recorded a song called Pimps (Free Stylin at the Fortune 500 Club) where John Paul Getty and David Rockefeller try their hands at rapping (“But hold my martini I have to do those hand gestures / We will begin at the commencement of the next measure”). Rockefeller explains they are above mere money: “How you gonna beat me at this game? I make the rules.” When they are joined by nouveau riche Donald Trump (“Hol’ up your hand if you love the money”) they can’t wait to get away from him.
So it is that Hillary Clinton is outpacing Trump in corporate donations 10 to 1. Big business is pulling their sponsorship of the Republican Convention: Ford Motors, Wells Fargo, Motorola and JP Morgan Chase have all opted out.
According to info filed with the Federal Elections Commission, Trump began June with just $1.3 million in his war chest. His campaign employed 70 staff. Clinton has nearly 700 paid staffers.
Trump’s abominable twitter response to the Orlando shooting (“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”) sparked an internal battle in his campaign that ended with the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
High profile Republicans past and present are either avoiding him or deserting him for Clinton. Brent Scowcroft, a security advisor to Ford and first Bush administrations, supports Hillary. James Cicconi, a top executive at ATT and supporter of every Republican candidate in the last 40 years has thrown his weight behind her campaign. Cicconi told the Wall Street Journal “this year I think it’s vital to put our country’s well being ahead of the party.”
Although Trump has secured a clear majority of delegates to the convention in mid-July, what should have been a coronation may turn into a gutter fight. A Dump Trump movement is growing among delegates who are seeking a rule change allowing them to vote their conscience rather than the wishes of primary voters who backed Trump. Many of them consider Trump too “liberal” given his lack of religious conviction, his past support for abortion rights and vulgar lifestyle.
Wily Trump moved to counter the movement by hastily assembling a “Faith and Cultural Advisory Council”, including high-profile bigots like James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell Jr., and former Congresswoman Michelle Bachman. Many of his spiritual advisors made it clear they do not endorse him, but would like to save his soul.
While Trump is likely to prevail in Cleveland, splits in the Republican Party may deny him access to grassroots GOP organization across the country. So if Trump lacks money, corporate backers and established Party machinery, what does he have left?
He can use these rejections as a badge of honour, as proof of his “outsider” status. He can double down on his racist and Islamophobic rhetoric. He can ramp up the flag-waving nationalism that is the flip side of fascism. He can, as Montgomery Burns was fond of doing, “release the hounds.”
It is no accident that Trump showed up in Scotland just in time to make some mileage out of the Brexit vote. It is amusing to read twitter responses to his seemingly ignorant tweets about Brexit, but Trump is a sly fox. He isn’t courting votes in Scotland, but in heartland USA. Build the wall. Ban Muslims. Make America white again.
Call it Djingo Unchained.
I do not believe Trump can win the election. The people who own the system and its political structure—the Rockefellers, Gettys and their class—do not want a loose cannon at the helm and fear the forces he will unleash. They are okay with racism and homophobia—hell, divide and conquer is their specialty—but Trump’s message contains a worrying anti-elitism. Populism doesn’t work when it is just bigotry, it has to tap into anger over growing inequality too. They will do what ever it takes to win, even if it means fixing the result. They’ve done it before.
The trouble is the hounds are already off the leash. Racists are emboldened as they haven’t been since the 1960s. Right-wing extremists are recruiting and organizing. Rather than confront them in a principled way, as the Bernie Sanders campaign tried to do, Clinton will try to harness the hatred with watered down nationalism and Islamophobia. Even while she tut-tuts Trump’s rhetoric, her campaign security advisor is retired General Wesley Clark, who is on record for supporting internment camps for “disloyal Americans,” especially Muslims.
All is not doom and gloom: millions were drawn to Sanders’ message of hope and solidarity. Many will now be demobilized and pulled into Clinton’s orbit. But many will not—instead continuing to build positive movements like Black Lives Matter. But no one should underestimate the dangerous elements that Trumps candidacy, even in defeat, represents.