For what seems like an eternity, Donald Trump has been protected by an invisible and seemingly-impenetrable forcefield. The stream of generalisations and slurs that would have ended the campaign of any other politician months ago have become a tedious habit of his, with astonishingly minimal consequences on his capacity to fight for the presidency.
From day one, Trump's most loyal supporters have defended his innumerable nonsenses. Trump, a racist or inspiring racism in America? Racism in America is the fault of Barack Obama, a local campaign chief contended. Trump, unqualified to be in the White House? His rival belongs in prison, cheered hundreds at the 2016 Republican National Convention. And now, Trump, a sexual predator? "One man's sexual assault is another man's flirtation," a Trump fan responded. The list goes on...
At last, a turning point. Since videos emerged of Trump making obscene comments about how he, as a man of wealth and fame, can supposedly treat women, the magic bubble has finally burst. Republicans are deserting their nominee as hastily as they can. Many believe that Mike Pence, Trump's running mate, should take over. With their rivals in such a catastrophe, the Democrats now believe they have a chance at securing Republican safe seats.
After so many controversies without his expulsion from the party, it seemed as though Trump was unstoppable. Finally we might have witnessed the straw that broke the camel's back, the much-desired beginning of the end for the current Republican nominee.
However, whether Donald Trump wins or loses the competition, his campaign has unearthed some of the most putrid and painful elements of American society. Though everything seems to be crashing for him right now, we cannot forget that Trump, an outsider to the political establishment and a halfhearted Republican, soundly defeated his nomination rivals, experienced politicians and activists, in caucus after caucus. Millions voted for him to be the Republican nominee. He was and still is considered by many to be the man required to change America for the better: to return economic prosperity to ordinary Americans, to eradicate political correctness, to reestablish America's global supremacy, to "make America great again."
Though Trump might be on the way out, this could be the beginning of a new chapter in the USA's political history. His supporters detest the establishment. In the last few decades of capitalism, they feel left behind. They believe that the rest of the world has enjoyed success while they have been forgotten, bereft of prosperity and abandoned by their leaders. Trump has exposed the astonishing levels of nationalism, racialism, anti-feminism and xenophobia that motivated Americans to vote for an anti-establishment outsider to radically shake things up. A Republican loss in November will not make these voters or their beliefs vanish.
To Trump's voters, a Clinton victory would be the same establishment that forgot about so many Americans taking control for another four years. I wouldn't put it past Trump proclaiming a Clinton victory to be a hoax (just as he has already insisted that the media is against him); but neither do I doubt thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Americans believing that the election was rigged and that the establishment will not let the people disrupt its dynasties, corruption and incompetence. Populism is nothing new in America, but at such levels today, it seems that social divisions could explode into chaos and disorder.
Ironically, a Clinton victory could exacerbate the divisions that Trump's campaign has revealed. Trump or no Trump in November, America is at a dark moment in its history.