After Trump’s election I hoped, without any real conviction I must admit, that perhaps all the lies, posturing, distasteful stances on any number of topics, the ‘America First’ speeches etc. were all just bluster, and once in office he would settle down and would be the figurehead for your usual Republican administration, albeit a particularly right wing one.
Well as any reasonable person can now see my hope was misplaced and my lack of conviction was well founded. Trump’s vanity, infantile behaviour, ignorance, lack of any people management skills, lack of humility, lack of gravitas, and above all lack of any clear direction – or indeed any plan at all, makes him unsuitable to hold office. Even when I have disagreed with the politics of a President or a Prime Minister I’ve always believed that their policies were driven by a conviction (however misguided in some cases) that they were serving the people. Trump’s prime motive is to serve himself.
While his views on ‘The Wall’ can be seen as just plain stupidity, Trump’s views on climate change – support for the fossil fuel industry and refusal to sign the Paris climate change treaty – have global, long term and irreversible consequences. This on its own could be seen to demonstrate his unsuitability for office, but with Trump this is just scratching the surface.
America has a recent history of racial division. ‘Jim Crow’ laws originating from the 19th Century enforcing segregation on trains and buses remained in place after the second World War, highlighted in 1955 by Rosa Parks in the Montgomery bus boycott. Barriers to African Americans voting existed until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Trump’s qualified and belated condemnation of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville shows his true colours as a bigot. The display of these values by the President will undoubtedly embolden white supremacists and risks the re-opening of the racial divisions which in reality have bubbled below the surface rather than be entirely eliminated. With condemnation now from both Democratic and Republican sides it remains to be seen whether he has overstepped the mark and sowed the seeds of his removal from office.
While from the UK we look through our fingers in despair at the disaster zone that is Trump’s presidency, politicians in the US need to take a long hard look at why so many Americans lost belief in conventional politicians. When a narcissist billionaire is seen as a ‘man of the people’ things have gone very wrong indeed.
It’s a sobering thought that we may have soon have to engage in trade deals with Trump, and what may be left of his administration, in light of our impending exit from the EU.
While it appears that we are a powerless bystander to the circus of Trump’s presidency one step the government can, and in my view should take, is to send a clear message and withdraw the state visit invitation.