The ongoing presidential campaign in the US clearly indicates that the American people are yearning for a radical change in their society. Never before in the US history the establishments of both the Democratic and Republican parties felt so rattled by outsiders who are not part of the parties' mainstream politics. These outsiders are demanding a radical shift in those economic policies that so far served the political and financial elite quite well.
Real-estate tycoon from New York and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is one such outsider. Looking at Trump's aggressiveness, it seems he is almost making a bid for a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.
He has already accumulated a huge fan base that blindly believes in his slogan: "We will make America great again". The fans go hysteric whenever and wherever Trump repeats his audacious plans of building a 1,933-mile border-wall between the US and Mexico, and forcing Mexico to pay for it (interestingly, when former Mexican president, Vicente Fox, said on TV, that Mexico was not going to pay for the f&%*ing wall, it only helped Trump to make his supporters become even more euphoric), deport 11 million illegal immigrants, ban entry of Muslims into the US and so on.
As the average American household is getting desperate to prevent the continuous fall in their standard of living and becoming more uncertain about future of the economy, a large section of the population is enthusiastically responding to Trump's demagoguery.
In this desperate time, people are not interested to know whether his reckless proposals are at all implementable. Trump's skills to dominate his rivals by spouting insults and mouthing profanities help him to further whip up mass hysteria in his favour. Obviously, any rational debate on critical issues in such a charged atmosphere is virtually impossible.
Interestingly, with deepening of the global crisis of capitalism, Trump-like phenomenon has become quite common in many parts of the world in the recent period. Take for example, India before the 2014 elections.
Indians were reeling under massive problems of unemployment, corruption at high places, terrorist incursions and overall deterioration of law and order. Enters Narendra Modi with his promises of bringing back black money, eliminating corruption at high places ("Na khaunga, na khane dunga"), ending terrorist incursions and so on. Millions of his fans became hysteric and achhe din started resonating extremely well everywhere. No one was interested in details amidst such euphoria.
If the achhe din experience of last two years is any indication then one can probably guess what America can expect from President Trump. His Republican rival, Marco Rubio, has already called him a "conman".
Conman or no conman, it is probably already too late to stop the Trump juggernaut. To make the matter worse, neither Rubio nor Ted Cruz has any grand alternative vision to save the American capitalism from its deep-rooted systemic crisis.
Besides Trumpomania, America is currently also experiencing another silent revolution. This revolution is led by the senator from Vermont and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Bernard (Bernie) Sanders. Sanders revolution is sweeping through the American universities and college campuses. His popularity among the white members of the Democratic Party is also palpable.
America indeed has come a long way. About a century ago, if Eugene Debs, USA's first socialist candidate for president's post, had to campaign from prison, today Bernie Sanders is not only freely contesting, but also able to mobilise huge public support from all across the US.
After achieving a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton in Iowa and thrashing her in New Hampshire, Sanders lost in Nevada by a whisker. Though in South Carolina he lost by a big margin, on March 1 (Super Tuesday) the Clinton camp may be in for some big surprise. The contest between Sanders and Clinton is certainly far from being over.
Americans are responding very enthusiastically to Sanders' call for joining a political revolution and to end the dominance of large corporations and billionaire class over the American society.
Some of America's most reputed economists have also declared their support for Sanders. This is truly remarkable considering the fact that only a few months ago the media didn't give Sanders even a remote chance of succeeding in any state against Hillary.
Unfortunately, Bernie Sanders is still unable to win the confidence of the majority of black population, the most disadvantaged section of the American population.
This is really ironic considering the fact that Sanders has the most consistent track record of fighting for civil rights and economic empowerment of the black population.
What is most remarkable about the Sanders campaign is their principle stand on non-acceptance of any money from Wall Street firms and special interest groups. From day one of his campaign Sanders has been relentlessly raising the issue of corrupt campaign financing system in America. He is educating his electorate on how big businesses and warmongers are buying votes and making the US democracy work only for the rich and powerful.
Already more than four million individuals have contributed to his campaign, with an average contribution of just 27 dollars. No presidential candidate in the history of US could raise money from such a large number of ordinary citizens. Sanders' socialist ideals of fair distribution of wealth, free education, universal healthcare, clean environment, etc are not only resonating with the people, but have also changed the whole narrative of this presidential race.
Hillary Clinton, who is getting millions of dollars from special interest groups and Wall Street firms, is now trying to usurp Sanders' vocabulary with the sole intention to manipulate the public opinion.
Interestingly, Donald Trump is also trying to cleverly exploit the issue of corrupt campaign financing. In the usual Trump style, he has turned the Sanders logic on its head. Trump is telling his voters that since he is a billionaire and has enough money, he doesn't require any contribution from any special interest group. Hence, as the president he'll not be a puppet in the hands of the campaign financiers.
What Trump is essentially suggesting is that the president of the US must be a billionaire (certainly, not a chaiwala) in order to be able to resist pressure from powerful businesses and special interest groups.
In the Indian context, we can probably say that Trump is presenting himself as Modi and Ambani combined. The coming months will show if he is successful in marketing the unique selling proposition of him to the American electorate.