By Angela Catterns

Compared to the US, our election campaigns here in Australia are short and sharp. Sometimes just 3 or 4 weeks, they’re all over in a blinding flash. The American presidential campaign started in January and ends with the election 10 months later, on 8th November.

In the meantime, the candidates have to be chosen by a time-consuming and exhaustive round of primaries.

Still in its early stages, this US election campaign has me hooked. 

I’m addicted to a superb weekly documentary series on Showtime US called “The Circus” in which two experienced political journalists and a veteran strategist give us insights into each candidate’s campaign. It’s up to date and revealing and in my opinion, real state-of-the-art documentary making. 

And earlier this week I watched live coverage of the New Hampshire results and the victory speech of Donald S. Trump.

It was like he’d just won an Oscar.

“Oh, wow! Wow, wow, wow! So  beautiful. So beautiful.” (Trump says everything at least twice.)

“I want to thank everybody. But I really have to begin by paying homage to my parents, Mary and Fred. They are up there.” I wasn’t sure if he meant up in the bleachers or up in heaven.

He went on to thank his sisters, his brothers, his wife the impeccably styled Melania, their daughters and son Jared “a very, very successful real estate entrepreneur in Manhattan.” And on he went … thanking family, staff, and eventually “the other candidates”.

It was like that acceptance speech Gwynneth Paltrow gave in 1999 when she won the Best Actress Oscar and thanked everyone including her cousins. (I note the Academy has now decided to introduce a scrolling list of people the winners want to thank, so they can concentrate on speeches that are actually entertaining.)

“We are going to make America great again. We are going to start winning again.”

“We're going to take care of the economy. We're going to take care of jobs. We're going to take care of all of the things that I said, our border, everything, health care. It's going to be so great.”

“You are going to be so happy. We are going to make America so great again. Maybe  greater than ever before. I love you all.” 

So far the Trumpster’s been pretty light on details about how he’s going to make America great again. Other than to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and ban all Muslims from entering the US. But when you’re a showman in a circus, why bother with boring details? 

His comments to and about women have been reprehensible. And he’s proud of being ‘politically incorrect’. 

Remember the 2004 TV show that made him famous here - The Apprentice? It featured a raft of contestants divided into two teams – the men and the women.  They were assigned a challenge and at the end of each week, one team received a reward, the other faced Trump in the boardroom where he delighted in taking them down several pegs, then aimed at one and said “You’re Fired”. He seemed to genuinely enjoy the moment and shortly after the successful first season, he tried to trademark that phrase. 

Mitchell Bard, a US writer and Professor of  Journalism & Mass Communication wonders if Trump is actually a man or a fictional character? And if he is a fictional character, what would he really do if he was elected President?

He writes “Donald Trump is punking us. Every last one of us. He is extremely skilled at manipulating the news media, and he clearly has an eye and ear for what has become of the Republican Party. Now he is pretending to be a crazy person AND winning the Republican presidential nomination in the process.”

A lot of people are realising Trump could actually become the next President. Many of them are starting to sit up and pay attention to the presidential race. Some say they’re going to register and vote just to make sure Trump fails. 

But in a country that’s feeling fractured and insecure, the crazy march of Trump could have unintended consequences. 

Trump just might unite America - against him. 

It’s a fascinating spectacle to watch from this distance. And there’s still nine months to go.