If Donald Trump Were the President of Russia

Do you think the most popular Republican candidate for President of the United States would be popular in Russia? Ivan Siyak compared what Donald Trump says with the results of opinion polls of Russian citizens.

Skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, golf clubs, restaurants, TV shows, modeling agencies, cuff links, eau de cologne, furniture, lamps – all of these branded ‘Trump’, and no one knows if he owns any of them. Donald Trump’s name sells, and this might be making him richer even faster than the real estate transactions that created his reputation as a businessman. His brand capitalization will definitely be increased by the current project – the US presidential election.

The fact that the third Bush and the second Clinton in a row participate in the race explains Trump’s success: he is currently the most popular Republican candidate. Many Americans are tired with all these names and faces, strategies and political correctness, so they get excited about the straightforward and often rude speeches of the billionaire.

This must be unpleasant for President Obama, but after Donald Trump was compared to Putin several times he suddenly gained popularity in Russia.

“He promises to restore his country’s greatness without offering a specific plan. He uses crude, vulgar expressions that make him sound like an ordinary guy, even though he’s a billionaire. He’s a narcissist who craves media attention. And for all his obvious shortcomings, he’s very popular. Whom am I referring to? Russian President Vladimir Putin, of course. But the parallels with a certain American politician known as the “The Donald” are obvious.” - David Ignatius from The Washington Post writes.

Most American experts think that without the support of political elites Trump is not a serious candidate for US President. How about the President of Russia then?

We checked if Trump’s campaign matches Russian tastes well.


Against Illegal Immigration

On June 16, announcing the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump accused the Mexican government of deliberately pushing criminals into US territory: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. […] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The issue of illegal migration is key in Trump’s campaign. For instance, he offers to build ‘a great wall’ on the border with Mexico, increase the number of immigration police officers threefold, have stricter punishments for illegal migrants and make it as difficult as possible for them to get jobs in the US.

According to Levada Center, Russian leading polling and sociological research organization, in August 2015, 68% of Russians thought that the government should limit the flow of foreigners into the country.


For Capital Punishment

In 1989, after a runner was raped and brutally beaten in New York City’s Central Park, Donald Trump published an advertisement in four city newspapers. It was an appeal to the mayor, and the title read in capital letters: BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. A moratorium on the use of the death penalty was in action in the state at the time. “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” – Trump wrote. He has not changed his opinion 26 years later – this spring when on air on FOX channel he called to execute the ‘animals’ who killed two policemen in Mississippi.

According to the opinion poll held by Obshestvennoye Mneniye (Public Opinion) Fund in April 2015, “Legal Consciousness of the Russians: Attitudes towards the Death Penalty”, 60% of the population are for bringing the death penalty back, although this share has constantly decreased since 2001.


Against Current US Foreign Policy

Trump supports limited interference in conflicts outside the US. He called the Crimean issue ‘Europe’s problem’, doubted that it was possible to find those who shot down the Malaysian Boeing over Donbass and suggested America removes itself from the war in Syria: “Russia wants to get rid of ISIS as much as we do. Let them worry about ISIS. Let them fight it out. Why do we care?”

Levada Center polls of September and October 2015 show that the majority of Russians – 71% – think that the US has a negative role in the world.

For Domestic Manufacturers

“When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo?” – this rhetorical question from Trump’s first speech of this year’s presidential campaign became a catchphrase. He claims that the policies of previous presidents led to the signing of unfavourable trade deals, where Japanese and Chinese manufacturers get more benefits than the American ones. “Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? I beat China all the time. All the time.”

In 2013, ROMIR agency polled the citizens in Vladivostok for their New Russian Nationalism project. According to the results of the poll, 85% of Primorye residents are sure that China benefits more from the cross-border trade.


With Reservations - Against Abortion

In 2011, Donald Trump claimed that his liberal attitude towards abortion was changed by the story of his wife’s friend who was going to terminate her pregnancy, but instead gave birth and found her happiness with the baby. Currently, the candidate for US President is against abortion, except in cases when the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or when giving birth endangers the health of the mother.

According to Levada Center, in the past 17 years the number of people who think that abortion should be legal and performed at the wish of the mother went down from 65% to 51%.


For Big Cars

In September 2015, Donald Trump, accompanied by Forbes journalists, was watching the Pope drive by, and made a disapproving comment about Francis’ Fiat: “That’s a dangerous-looking sucker. I don’t like the little car. He’s trying to be ‘of the people,’ but I don’t know. It just doesn’t look right.”

According to the European Business Association, 52.8% of all money spent by Russians on buying cars in the first half-year of 2015 was spent on crossover and offroad vehicles – a total of 304.2 bln roubles.


Against Gay Marriage

Trump voices his opinion about the hot topic of gay marriage in the US very carefully, but at the same time his position is very definite.

“It’s like in golf. A lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive. It’s weird. You see these great players with these really long putters, because they can’t sink three-footers anymore. And I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.” – 2011.

“I am against – Trump responded to a question about his attitude to gay marriage in 2013. – It’s never been an argument that’s been discussed with me very much. People know that it’s not my thing one way or the other.”

Russian National Center for Studying Public Opinion (WCIOM) polls show that Russians are more prone to deny gays the right to marry than 10 years ago. In 2004, 59% of the country’s population thought gay marriage was unacceptable, now the share is up to 80%.


For Divorce

Donald Trump is not the most traditional Republican candidate for US President who has declared a commitment to family values. The woman he is currently married to, Melanija Knavs, a former model from Slovenia, is his third wife. He used to be officially married to a Czech model, Ivana Zelnickova, and American TV show host Marla Maples.

According to the study performed by Russian National Center for Studying Public Opinion (WCIOM) before this year’s Day of Love and Fidelity, 90% of Russians believe that divorce is absolutely acceptable.

Against Barack Obama

When Donald Trump criticizes the policies of the current US administration, he can’t help but attack the President personally. He doubted the fact that Barack Obama was born on US territory, and therefore rightfully claiming American citizenship. He said that Obama was a terrible student. When pointing out foreign policy mistakes, Trump called Obama stupid and a “psycho”.

A Russian National Center for Studying Public Opinion (WCIOM) poll in the summer 2015 showed that the respondents identified the USA and Barack Obama personally as the main enemy of Russian culture and values. 37% of the respondents who said that Russia has ill-wishers said so.


Not Russian Enough

And at the same time, the views of American conservatives, which Donald Trump is currently voicing more prominently than the others, are still not identical to Russian conservatism. The crucial difference lies in the attitude to personal independence and the right of the state to restrict it.

Since 1990, when Trump advocated for the legalization of all drugs in order to take the profit away from drug lords. His views have changed considerably, but even now he supports the sale of medical marijuana. The studies of possible public support of similar projects in Russia have not even been done.

As a true Republican, Trump is all for a small and weak government, controlled by strong and free citizens. That is why one of the three key points of his campaign, in addition to tax reform and countering illegal migration, is lifting all bans on the sale of and carrying of firearms, including automatic weapons. According to the Levada Center, in 2013, when it comes to this the point of view, the American candidate is different from the point of view of 81% Russians.

Cover photo: Brooks Kraft / Corbis / East News

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