川普的形象已經非常穩固──川普就是……呃，川普。不過，即使社會能容忍川普的個人直覺，民主黨在秋季選戰中可不會這樣定位川普。希拉蕊在週二夜晚的演說中嘲弄川普，承諾「打破藩籬」而非「築起高牆」，並強調「愛勝過恨」（love trumps hate）；希拉蕊雖然呆板、缺乏群眾魅力又有點古怪，卻也是個經驗豐富、紀律十足的參選人，和川普完全相反。
Donald Trump won everything on Tuesday night. Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland. The evening leaves him with a strong case for the Republican nomination, and while everyone in the media speculates on how he begins to shift towards the general election, Trump, as unpredictable as he has been, is showing signs of political sophistication by doing what career politicians do upon clinching the nomination, moving to the middle. Similarly, Hillary Clinton has also emerged victorious so at this moment of major shift in American election, I think it is necessary to again pose the question of what we may infer from comparing Taiwanese politics to its American counterpart. Despite the rising and unavoidable influence China poses to Taiwan, America still has an insurmountable grasp politically and economically.
Instead of referring to candidates such as Trump and Sanders as "anger candidates", I think it would be more fitting to further qualify them as "inception candidates", candidates who have created a communal dream world of unattainable policies that feed on disenchantment from the realities of capitalism. Electorates who are rightfully disillusioned with the crumbling status quo are led into a "penrose stair" styled cycle of dreams within a dream, false reality upon false reality. When dreams are distorted with reality, wild concepts that are inserted in these dreams are accepted as viable solutions, what would happen as the bubble is busted? We see in the movie the tragic fate of Mal when she was unwillingly to accept the real world, as anger and angst that are already there starts compounding, the result might be unfathomable to us all.
To recap the US election to date, Trump and Clinton have emerged victorious from the Acela primaries (named after the 自強號 equivalent, oft delayed AMTRAK train that runs through the Eastern Corridor) and the primaries now shift back west. Both candidates are still unpopular front-runner who have seen their margin of victory increase. For Trump, the argument used to be that as the field narrowed the establishment GOP will start winning and Trump would also eventually self-combust. The opposite appears to be true: the narrower the race, the better he does. Aside from sweeping all five states on Tuesday, he won every single demographic in most of them. One may argue that these states are solid Democrat states come November so Trump’s landslide victories here are ultimately insignificant, yet, one also needs to recall that Hillary built her huge lead in the early Dixie states primaries that are usually Republican states.
The Republican Party has not been able to find an alternative that Republican voters are prepared to endorse as Cruz and Kasich become farther and farther behind in delegate count as Trump seems to become is nominee almost by default. This poses two questions, how will he navigate the convention? His victory speech heralded a promised party unity, healing and reaching out to the disgruntled. At the same time, he has already begun to change his strategy, hiring former GOP strategists to reach out the party establishment also hiring speechwriters and practicing speaking with a teleprompter (while randomly elected politicians might need to practice speaking WITHOUT a teleprompter).
Reince Priebus, the recently reelected, unluckiest GOP chairman has warned that the winner of the primary will be the nominee, unwillingly to side with the Never Trump movement. Trump has now been trying to move to the middle, so the second question is, by how much? He has, supposedly, argued that transgender people should be able to use the restrooms that they choose to use in the midst of the recent North Carolina bathroom law. He also argued that legal abortion should be allowed in certain instances, yet are these positions the product of strategic thinking or just out of the blue free styling that he tends to do? Even if Trump's private instincts are socially tolerant, the Democrats won't define him that way in the fall campaign as he has already cemented his image as being....well, Trump. In her Tuesday night speech, Hillary Clinton jeered at the presumptive Republican nominee issues and promised to "break down barriers" rather than "build walls," asserting that "love trumps hate." As robotic, uncharismatic and awkward as Hillary is, she is a seasoned, experienced and disciplined candidate, a complete foil to Trump, Clinton will fight Trump on Trump's reputation as a bigot rather than the reality of Trump as a complex man without a clearly defined politics.
This campaign cycle is slowly evolving from a narrative of Trump as a "surprise winner" to Trump as a potential nominee. On the flip side, Bernie Sanders, who only managed to win Rhode Island, continues to fend questions of whether or not he should concede and support Hillary Clinton. While he might have the most sincere economic platforms, he was never taken seriously by the mainstream media which have to this point been tilting to Clinton’s side, who have been ridiculing the Republicans and brushing Sanders off, yet Sanders still will not throw in the towel and vows to fight until the convention. As I hyperlinked and outdated Fareed’s take from the famed journalist Fareed Zakaria (who also happens to have hosted numerous Clinton Global Initiative events), the moderates are under siege by the far left and far right. No matter how close he is with the Clintons, he is on point with how Sanders’ policy might be outlandish while Republicans look puerile.
Rather than calling these candidates as “Anger Candidates”, I would rather pose a new terminology of calling them “Inception Candidates”, candidates that feed in to your imagination of equality according to your subjectivity, discontent from the status quo, offering policies that sound tempting, but deep down, you know that these promises ultimately might not come into fruition once they are elected. As moderate as Clinton might be, she is alarmingly unfavorable at a level almost similar to Trump, has been dragged to the left by Sanders. She recently backtracked from the TPP which she once promoted, drawing questions to whether or not it will still come into effect if she is elected. On it is needless to mention that Trump rejected this issue in favor of protecting domestic industries.
So, conventional wisdom would suggest that TPP might still eventually come to fruition after the election (but who knows), we would not know if the end product, should it pass, be anything similar to its original intent. Therefore, to pivot back to Taiwan, we would then ask, what exactly is the reality that our politicians and their supporters live in? Why is there unnecessary raucous over a policy that probably might end up as a stillbirth? As we juxtapose our own election with the circus across the Pacific we might actually play the role of fortune teller and read some tea leaves. There has been a running gag in Taiwan that the President elect and her future administration members have been making statements that have thrown their supporters in the Hockenheimring, contradicting their previous platforms. We can predict a similar fate for these US candidates should they be elected, simply put, how can they possibly build a wall, or deport all illegal aliens? Or is it possible to break up all the big banks on Wall Street? Would it be possible to fully protect American jobs and shelf TPP? Who knows? But they sure sound tempting! Are they conceivable? Maybe not? But that’s not important as feasibility is not the latest buzzword!
Why are we in Inception-esque dream world? Have we been fed up with everyday life so that we choose to steer away from reality? Where is the kick to wake us up? Certainly not the media, as in Taiwan’s case, they have long been unable to be professional enough as pundits have to cover all sorts of topics from celebrity gossips to reading the fengshui of your ancestral burial grounds and appraising precious alcoholic beverages. If politicians are elected on false promises that cannot be kept, our future will only be wilder and crazier.