Despite it being so early in the running, the Republican presidential hopeful has thus far gone further than anyone, other than maybe Donald Trump himself, expected.

Like his Democratic (and self-proclaimed Socialist) counterpart, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Trump has tapped into a deep well of dissatisfaction with would-be voters who, for now, aren’t interested with established (and establishment) candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Sen. Hillary Clinton, each of whom have had family members serve as POTUS. Despite being on opposite ends of the political spectrum, Sanders and Trump have gained momentum for similar reasons.

In the case of money, though, they differ, although they share a similarity. Sanders, who isn’t seen as being in the pocket of any moneyed special interests, is getting “people power” support and donations in small amounts.

Trump, meantime, eschews big money because he evidently has plenty of his own to spend on his aspirations. Seemingly beholden to no one, he says whatever happens to be rambling through his mind, which endears him to many who knew of him previously via reality TV shows like “The Apprentice.”

Yes, while both Sanders and Trump have also gained the lead in their respective races via their words, Trump has also gained notoriety for his insults, be it Mexican immigrants, longtime target Rosie O’Donnell, TV news personality Megyn Kelly of Fox News, fellow Republican Sen. John McCain for having been captured during the Vietnam War and other Republicans vying for the nomination and Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

Donald Trump on "The Apprentice."
Donald Trump on “The Apprentice.”

Without a doubt, all of Trump’s preceding antics are entertaining and sometimes horrifying — it is, as mentioned, still early in the 2016 race for the presidency and looking for much in the way of substance is somewhat futile. Jumping ahead, I don’t think Trump has what it takes to get the Republican nomination.

If, by some stretch of the imagination, he were able to reach the White House, I think it would be as disastrous as when another ego-driven show business celebrity named (Arnold Schwarzenegger, not Ronald Reagan) became California’s governor. While Trump is no doubt used to being served, he doesn’t seem to have a clue about being a public servant. Unlike Sanders, he’s never held any political office and his bluster would not get him far with either Republicans who would resent him or Democrats who would hate him.

Trump has also taken to Asia-bashing, singling out China and Japan as competitors to the United States. “We are gonna bring back jobs from China. We are gonna bring back jobs from Japan,” he has said. (Which jobs are we going to bring back from China? Picking out bones from fish? I also thought it silly of him to bring up Japan, since that type of rhetoric seems like something from 30 years ago. To quote something even older, I have to ask, on the topic U.S. jobs supposedly taken by Japan: “Where’s the beef?”)

Trump also took aim at the decades-old, U.S.-imposed defense alliance between the U.S. and Japan, which he criticized because we were obligated to come to Japan’s aid if it were attacked but they were not obligated to assist the U.S. if we were attacked. In an odd sort of way, what he said actually seemed to echo Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desires to reinterpret Japan’s U.S.-written constitution and security arrangement, so that Japan could and would come to our aid.

Hmm. Upon revisiting other Trump statements, it seems that there is oftentimes some truth buried in what he says — and that’s the problem, because nuance is not in his vocabulary.

For instance, he wants to cut illegal immigration from south of the border (and deport some 11 million illegal immigrants), even though actual immigration from Mexico — from which the largest number of illegal Latin Americans come — is at a low point. Then, after he called some illegal immigrants from Mexico criminals (while adding as an afterthought that most were good people), Kathryn Steinle was killed July 1 in San Francisco by an illegal alien from Mexico, which seemed to bolster his point.

The L.A. Times, meantime, just the other day ran a story that Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 244 illegal immigrants with criminal records and 191 — more than 75 percent — were Mexican nationals.

Then there’s the “anchor baby” phenomenon that Trump (and Jeb Bush) referenced, in which non-citizens come to the U.S. to give birth so that their offspring have U.S. citizenship. Whether it’s illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America or Chinese coming to birth motels, it seems that in both cases, there are people who game the system and take advantage of the 14th Amendment. (Wouldn’t an easier solution be to keep it — but make it applicable only to legal visitors who can prove they’ve been on U.S. soil legally for 12 months?)

Meantime, going easy on illegal immigrants also makes people who would like to legally emigrate here from abroad look like fools for following the rules.

At best, Trump may wind up being a kingmaker, someone who won’t actually make the run but will be in a position to name the Republican hopeful.

All I can say for now is enjoy Trump’s entertaining ways while you can., because he will fade from the race before too long.

RIP, George Yoshinaga Dept.: First of all, please don’t cancel your subscription to The Rafu Shimpo now that George Yoshinaga has died. (He probably would have loved Donald Trump.)

I know he had his fans, some of whom have told me they only subscribed to The Rafu to read his column and would quit once he stopped writing. I’m pretty sure that probably stroked his ego, but I have to think he wouldn’t want that. This paper needs every subscriber it can muster!

Even though we shared a particular status as Japanese American columnists at this paper, I didn’t know Yoshinaga. I can remember just two occasions where we were in the same room at the same time.

Yoshinaga’s demise is a sign that the age of the Nisei journalist is nearing its end. He outlasted his mentor, Bill Hosokawa, and his friend Harry Honda, both of whom I did know. But while he gets points for longevity, well, his best days as a writer were long ago. He nevertheless served as a voice for a real constituency within the community.

As for The Rafu’s future post-Horse, I’m not sure what the powers that be have in mind, nor do I have any idea on how the space he filled will get filled. Maybe it’s time for some other voices to step up, presuming they can be found. I’d bet that’s a proposition upon which George Yoshinaga and everyone who disagreed with him would find common ground.

Until next time, keep your eyes and ears open.


George Toshio Johnston has written this column since 1992 and can be reached at The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect policies of this newspaper or any organization or business. Copyright © 2015 by George T. Johnston. All rights reserved.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *