Trump as the leader of the free world
Trump has come to power riding the uncontrollable tiger of hatred. He owes nothing to the traditional king makers in his party or the leadership in Congress
Within days of winning the elections, President-elect Donald Trump has made two U-turns. The first came in his victory speech.
From “nasty woman,” and “the most corrupt person ever to seek the office of the presidency,” Hillary turned overnight into a person who had “worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.” Good.
Trump had made comments during the campaign which were highly divisive and had caused widespread resentment. In the victory speech he presented himself as the healer. “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people”. He described his campaign as “a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds, and beliefs, who want and expect our government to serve the people — and serve the people it will.”
He further promised that under his presidency “Every single American will have the opportunity to realise his or her fullest potential.”
The Muslim community was unjustly targeted by Trump during the campaign with remarks like ““Donald J Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
The second volte face came two days later when he removed the remarks from his website. These are minor changes however.
More important for the world, particularly to the allies, are Trump’ other remarks which highlight the President-elect’s strong and ingrained fascistic tendencies and his doubtful commitment to democracy. Trump’s attitude towards sections of the media who criticised him, his diatribe against US District Judge Gonzalo Curie for rejecting a request by Trump in a fraud case and his attitude towards political opponents support the view.
He lashed out at the Wall Street Journal because the paper’s coverage of his campaign was unfvourable. “The WSJ loves to write badly about me. They better be careful or I will unleash big time on them.” He called anti-Trump protestors “illegals” and “thugs”.
Trump called judge Curiel a “hater” who was being unfair to him because the judge is Hispanic, because he is Mexican and because Trump is building a wall.
Trump’s admiration for an autocratic Putin too raised questions about his commitment to the democratic system. “Putin has been a leader, far more than our president.”
The President-elect displayed cavalier like attitude towards climate change, a highly crucial issue for the entire globe. “It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”
Mexican immigrants got a specially rough handling from him. “They’re bringing drugs, crime and are rapists.” Further, “I will build a great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.”
The US electorate has sown the wind and is likely to harvest the whirlwind. The sad thing is that the blunders committed by the President of the most powerful and influential country will harm the entire world
Trumps economic policies can have drastic impact on the world. He has said he would renegotiate America’s trade deals like NAFTA, pull out from WTO and impose 45pc tarrifs on Chinese goods. This is seen as initiating a trade war and pushing the world into a recession.
His international policy is equally ruinous. Trump’s undiplomatic views have alarmed many countries. His fiery rhetoric has raised hackles among US allies who are confused about the future direction of US foreign policy and presence in East Asia. Trump sent highly negative signals to Japan and South Korea while his stance towards China was exceedingly aggressive.
The US system has institutions that keep the President informed and rein in any radical departure from the grundnorm of the America led world order.
Can these institutions rein in the fascistic tendencies in the powerful head of state who has assumed power with a big mandate? Will he carry out the reckless policies like neutering the speaker of the House, revoking press freedoms, creating a super PAC to carry out political vendetta, deport millions, cancel trade agreements, apply religious tests and sabotage international efforts to fight climate change?
These institutions include the Pentagon, CIA, judiciary, the civil service and the media. In case they all fail there is an increasingly vibrant civil society which is expected to put up resistance. Spontaneous protests against the man with these views occupying the White House have been held in big cities across the US. Soon the CIA, FBI, the Pentagon and State Department would start a long session of briefing the President-elect. They will all stress the point that the US system is not meant for catering to the whims of a single man. Will some of the saner Republican lawmakers stand in Trump’s way if he tries to cross the limits? Can all these checks stop the advance of Tempocalypse?
Trump has come to power riding the uncontrollable tiger of hatred. He owes nothing to the traditional king makers in his party or the leadership in Congress. Many prominent Republicans have in fact publicly disowned him. This gives Trump freedom to try to chart an independent course. But can he be allowed to do break the basic rules?
What is at stake is the world order erected under US leadership by the west after WWII. Trump has questioned the two bipartisan principles that include support for an open, international trading system and commitment to the US-led alliances.
There is a possibility of the system softening some of the rough edges of this highly abrasive man. But would it be able to re-mould the deep set tendencies imbibed over decades which have defined the man’s character and force him to review his half-baked economic and international policies?
The US electorate has sown the wind and is likely to harvest the whirlwind. The sad thing is that the blunders committed by the President of the most powerful and influential country will harm the entire world.