The world has progressed greatly since a man called Donald Trump somehow managed to become President of the free world. As the dust settled around the world, those of liberal mind scorned at how far astray the USA has drifted from its progressive values. One thing became abundantly clear: Liberal America has been overthrown. Things cooled off for a while after the election, as attentions returned to the outgoing Obama. That is no longer the case as the inauguration has highlighted. Modern America has arguably never seen such division. On one side are the conservative victors, who are rejoicing at the prospect of America taking the path to greatness once more. They feel they have finally reclaimed their country. On the other side, Liberal Americans believe that they have totally lost theirs. The division is that stark.
Emotion clouds the mind and reactionary action is always the most absurd. When all the pandemonium stops: what will a President Trump actually look like? Trump built his campaign on shock and awe politics. He used every trick in the far-right book, from blaming Muslims for American problems to denouncing the press as ‘fake news’. Now that he has actually won: should we expect the same Trump to stay with us?
Man of the People?
‘January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day, the people, became the rulers of this nation again’. This is how Trump chose to describe his victory during his inauguration speech. The statistics paint a different picture however. President Donald Trump actually has the lowest approval ratings of any President for at least 40 years. Staggeringly, his approval ratings have actually gone down since he became President-Elect Trump. In fact, only 40% of Americans polled have a favourable opinion of their new President. Adding to the flames of discontent, mass protests have engulfed major cities around America and the wider world. Mainly fronted by women, fearful at having a misogynist for a president, the scale of these demonstrations indicate that Trump, in fact, is not the president of the people. He is simply the president of a select piece of the people.
This period should come to be remembered as the peak of the nation’s discontent. We are still in the reactionary phase where emotions run high and action doesn’t feel futile, regardless of the truth. Trump is the president and people will learn to accept that. They simply have to. As with most things, time heals wounds and people learn to accept. There will inevitably be those who will never accept Trump. This is a good thing; he needs to be accountable, especially as he’s now promised to ‘never, ever let you down’. Only time will tell if Trump truly can reunite a divided country.
His War on the Media
The first battle of Trump’s administration was not against the Muslims, the Mexicans or even China. His first battle was against the media. Trump targeted the ‘mainstream media’ a lot during his campaign and he certainly hasn’t let up since he took office. It didn’t even take a day for the first skirmish between the media and the President to occur.
It was over crowd sizes of all things. Photos circulated around the media this past week of the crowds that came to witness Trump’s inauguration at the National Mall. They contrasted the evidently sparser crowds of Trump’s inauguration, compared to Obama’s own inauguration. All the media did was report the fact that Trump’s crowds were noticeably smaller. Trump furiously denied this, with his press secretary offering ‘alternative facts’ on the issue. They claimed that this year’s speech was ‘the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.’, both in person and around the world. Evidence provided by the Washington DC Metro service contradicts this claim, with 193,000 journeys taken in 2017 for Trump’s inauguration compared to 317,000 for Obama’s in 2013. All this is proving is that Trump’s ‘alternative facts’ astoundingly just are not facts. They are, however, extremely dangerous. As soon as you normalise lies from the White House the executive’s potential for manipulation of the nation becomes scarily high. This petty war between Trump and the media can only lead to no good.
So What Happens now?
‘From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land, from this day forward, it’s going to be America first, America first’. This is the tone of Trump’s presidency. It is the tone of a businessperson looking to crush his rivals and get the best deal for his enterprise. It is actually hard to say what Trump’s first moves will be. He has already U-turned his stance on issues such as Obamacare, the environment with the mass deportation yet to take full swing also. Even the idea of the wall is crumbling. Trump has admitted that it will be part wall and part fence, with him expected to ask Congress for funds around April.
Trump has proven to be highly unpredictable in many ways. Some issues he has remarkably reversed upon when put under pressure but on others he has remained stubborn as ever. One thing is guaranteed, he will immediately begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade agreement. Living up to his campaign, he has now scrapped the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, showing at least some deliverance on his promises. The true impact of this is now hard to predict. As for the rest of his policy, it’s basically anyone’s guess as to whether he follows through.
From Russia with Love
In perhaps one of the most unexpected moves in global diplomacy in recent times, the relationship between Russia and the USA has substantially sweetened. It has already been evident that Trump and Putin have a mutual respect for each other. Putin in the past has called Trump ‘a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that’. Trump has also returned the warm words on several occasions. The implications of this are actually very positive, while Russia rediscovers how to flex its might. Rather than the tension that Hillary Clinton may have brought about between the two nations, Trump may have actually alleviated them.
Trump’s Brave New World
‘We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and unite the civilised world against radical Islamic terrorism.’ Trump is looking to bring back some macho chest beating to American foreign policy. He campaigned on the promise to make ‘America great again’, which suggests returning to the stance America took in previous decades toward foreign policy. Many in the country miss the days of America’s willingness to flex its muscles as a dominant super power. They feel they got complacent and soft without Russia to compete with in the post-modern era. Trump tapped into that sentiment and we can expect a more assertive America during his administration. This should not be confused with an America looking to police the world. Trump has already said he may not guarantee the protection of all Nato countries any longer. This is an America acting in the interests of America.
In terms of Great Britain, Trump still appears to have warm feelings towards us. He said he’d put us at the front of the queue for post-Brexit trade and that still remains to be seen. If his inauguration is anything to by, wanting to ‘reinforce old alliances’ can only mean good news for the United Kingdom. Whether Trumps uses this unilateral trade agreement as a bartering chip in his foreign policy agenda is also unknown as of now. What can be certain is that as Britain distances itself away from Europe and towards the USA, we can expect to be drawn into American politics, much more akin to Blair and Bush’s time.
The end has not come. While Trump may be a highly controversial figure, with access to near limitless power and wealth, he is not the doom bringer. To all those of progressive nature, I feel your pain. The result feels like a massive step backward but it is not binding. We must respect Trump’s right to govern as it is the will of the Electoral College and ultimately of wider America. Democracy is a cruel but fair idea that must be maintained no matter what. While Trump’s ideas are dangerous, taking action to silence him is far more dangerous for any democratic nation. Sit tight; it is only 4 years to go.