Whether Trump is a mad creation of the GOP or his own ‘prime mover’, America stands before a fact: a monster has been unleashed
‘How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe?’
The words of a moderate GOP senator or Victor Frankenstein’s reaction to the birth of his creature? The answer is the latter, but none would be shocked to hear an anti-Trump Republican use the same rhetoric to describe what they view to be the disintegration of their party.
Trump is undeniably the GOP’s Frankenstein. The whole party must recognise that their xenophobic and vitriolic language towards those who disagree with their views, or are in some respect different to them, whether it be race or sexuality, has essentially bred the monster which they decry today.
Of course, there are those who appear to wholeheartedly accept Trump, but to what extent is this a mere smokescreen for their crumbling woes over the takeover of their party by one who reflects the most extreme of the GOP? Is the creature one they have created out of their own design and doing? Do they spurn it, as Frankenstein did his creature, or do they rather accept their ‘hideous deformity’?
I myself have just finished my A-Levels, with my last exam being English Literature, where one of the texts we were examined on was Frankenstein. Shelley’s prolific novel has had a profound influence on my world view, and it is shocking how many parallels could be drawn between the novel and the ‘birth’ of Trump. To a certain extent, it is therefore ironic that Trump’s political stature really came to the fore as a result of the Birther Movement, where conservative Republicans attempted to make erroneous claims about Obama’s nationality.
Throughout society there continues to be an erroneous assumption that ‘Frankenstein’ is the monster (sighs), when in fact, it is the name of his creator, Dr Victor Frankenstein. So, if Trump is the monster, the GOP is his creator. Could we imagine the rise of Trump without the rise of the Tea Party? Without hard-line conservative Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz? With the former believing that God elects presidents, not the people, and the later carrying out a 23-hour filibuster just to attempt to block additional funding to Obamacare including a reading of Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Do not think that the rise of the Tea Party as well as the jump to the hard-right within the Republican Party did not influence Trump.
However, we can also argue that history is repeating itself: there are figures in America’s political past who sincerely reflect Trump, but possibly to a lesser extent. Indeed, Southern conservative Democrat George Wallace ran for the Democratic nomination before eventually breaking off and forming his own party, the American Independent Party. He was able to win 45 Electoral College votes from 5 Southern states due to his appeal to Southern white conservative fears over desegregation. Yet, even earlier than Wallace, the Republican candidate for president in 1964, Barry Goldwater, was a hard-line conservative who famously said ‘extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice’. One could certainly imagine Trump himself saying the exact same words.
Even independent Ross Perot, who gained the highest percentage in the popular vote that a third party or independent candidate has ever received (19 per cent), shares a range of similarities with Trump. Perot was also a self-funded millionaire candidate who ran on a populist message, yet was far more fiscally conservative than he was socially conservative, notably advocating the reform of the federal budget deficit. Indeed, Perot even selected the Patsy Kline song ‘Crazy’ as his campaign song, which would in fact be more fitting for the orange buffoon before us today.
Yet what removes Trump from a complete characterisation of him as the Frankenstein of the GOP is that on certain issues, he is considerably more liberal. Trump’s free trade positions are essentially anathema to Republicans, who support free trade due to its considerable economic prospects. Trump on the other hand advocates American isolationism, believing that trade deals such as the TPP are a ‘disaster for America’.
When Shelley wrote Frankenstein, it was primarily in reaction to what she viewed as the dangerous consequences the scientists of her time, such as Galvani and Davy, might thrust upon the world if they were successful in bringing the dead back to life. A world of destruction and desolation could be a reality if they were to advance any further. Yet, could we face such a reality if the politics of hate, misogyny and racism succeeds? As Shelley told us, the creature must be nurtured if it is to deny its violent instincts. The creature aptly said to his creator ‘… if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear’, and this is exactly what Trump is doing to the great nation of America.