Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Last Word on Trump.

The election of Donald Trump as US President came as something of a shock to me, as I suspect it did to most of the civilised world. Americans might ask whether I as a British national have the right to an opinion on the matter. I would reply that, since America likes to promote its presumptive status as leader of the free world, the election of the US President is everybody’s business, and so I will continue on that basis.

The result is disturbing because it asks questions of American culture, the American election system, and even the good sense and decency of the American electorate, since the man they have elected promotes himself as an empty-headed bigot. He comes across as a bawling, bragging, sexist, racist, xenophobic, unsophisticated, socially divisive Fascist. I didn’t imagine that image; he and his campaign created it.

He says he will ‘make America great again,’ but I don’t think anybody should believe it. People like Trump don’t know what greatness is. People like Trump know how to acquire wealth, how to maintain power, how to abuse women, and how to put the planet in peril for the sake of short term pecuniary gain. People like Trump understand bigness, but they don’t understand that greatness is something else entirely. His constant bleat ‘America first’ gives the clue to his ignorance in the matter of greatness, since the single-minded pursuit of personal interest is not the stuff of which greatness is made.

Or have I got it all wrong? Is Trump really a nice guy at heart? The problem with Trump was always that nobody ever knew what they would be getting if he were elected to power. Throughout the campaign he has been the consummate chameleon, forever softening and hardening his position to suit the exigencies of the moment and the nature of his audience. Did he promote his basic nature in the terms listed above simply in order to garner the votes of a majority of Americans? If so, we come back to the disturbing questions.

Time will tell, of course, and I’m sure there are those in America whose only hope is that four years will be insufficient for him to do the damage of which he is capable. But for now, Americans have made their bed and Americans must lie on it. I wish some of them good luck, but I’m more than a little disappointed in the others. As for how his tenure in the White House will affect the rest of us, it remains to be seen. And in spite of the title of this post, I doubt it will be the last word on Trump.


Donna said...

"The problem with Trump was always that nobody ever knew what they would be getting if he were elected to power. "

A lot of people DID see but chose to vote for third, unviable, candidates in protest (against Clinton) OR didn't vote at all.

While Clinton won the popular vote, the elctoral college has betrayed us again.

Now the 3 branches of our government are in the hands of rapacious frauds – pros at sowing discord so that we're too fractured to fight back effectively.

Everyone I know is terrified. Luckily, I live in Massachusetts so it's *likely* that I'll survive but so many will die either through Trump & Co.s vile edicts or at the hands of the emboldened Trump bullies and terrorists (domestic and otherwise).

JJ Beazley said...

I discovered only today that Hillary won the popular vote. Add that to the low turnout, and it seems not so many Americans voted for Trump after all.

There's something of a worry in Europe at the moment that Trump's 'success' will embolden extreme right wing parties over here. We have a man called Nigel Farage in Britain who used to lead the right wing UKIP party, and he's already claimed publicly that 'Trump is good for the world.'

That said, Europe is generally more liberal and less hawkish than America, but I've always believed that civilisation is to some extent a veneer - that values like tolerance, mutual respect and the desire for peace can soon evaporate when they're put to the test. They've been put to the test over here with the refugee crisis, and some ugly cracks have certainly appeared. And let's not forget that the Germans brought Hitler to power in the 1930s when under pressure from dire economic circumstances. If it could happen there, I see no reason why it can't happen just about anywhere if circumstances are strong enough to wash away the veneer from sufficient of the population.

All in all, it seems to me that the 'free world' is becoming more polarised between the two opposing sets of values, and I'm not at all sure that the balance is going to fall on the side that I favour.

JJ Beazley said...

And by the way, Donna, thank you for taking the trouble to leave a comment.

Donna said...

"civilisation is to some extent a veneer"

Yup and it becomes thinner and more evanescent by the moment.

We need, and all need to be, superheros right now. We need to keep our energy up and not give in to our rage. Like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we've got to encourage love and diplomacy. Yeah, I'm talkin' to myself – trying to psych myself up.

JJ Beazley said...

I have been tempted to wonder whether the western world is approaching - or is even currently engaged in - a form of Armageddon in which the spokespersons from the dark side and the light are to be engaged in a battle for the minds of the many. If so, I'm glad to be on your side. I like your broadminded and peaceable view, and I'm sure you're right. Oddly enough, you're the second American woman I've heard say the same thing in the past twenty four hours.

But it will be a difficult battle because I've noticed that what most impresses the minds of the many is the promise of prosperity and security, and the dark side is so very much better placed to make such promises in a world driven increasingly by materialistic values and riven by the horrors of extremism. And they are also very good at hiding the fact that they are often the terrorists in disguise.

So good luck with the psyching, Donna. I hope I can be up to the job of following your example.

Donna said...

"Armageddon?" Yeah, feels that way and maybe this IS it.

At this point, in the popular vote, Clinton is ahead by nearly TWO MILLION votes. I gotta remember that the majprity of Americans aren't vile, self obsessed, unfeeling asswipes.

Thank you JJ!

Madeline said...

Trump doesn't scare me as much as the scary people he is gathering to fill his cabinet, and his VP. A lot of my friends have engaged the fantasy that Trump will resign, be impeached, or pull a William Henry Harrison, only to realize in a moment of cold dread that it would make Mike Pence president.

JJ Beazley said...

Well Trump scares me, and I'm not even American. There's something about him that's chillingly redolent of the European Fascist leaders in the 1930s. And it seemed a little ironic that while he's installing a man like Bannon in his inner circle, he's saying on some TV show that hate crime should be stopped. But isn't that just typical of Trump?

'Away and mock the time with fairest show
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.'

I know nothing about Pence, although I gather he's already had a chat with our Clown Prince, Boris Johnson, presumably about the future of UK/US relations. (Boris has instructed us to give Trump a chance, by the way.) My personal feeling is that we should sever the special relationship and cultivate the Chinese instead.

Must look up William Henry Harrison.

Hello Maddie. So good to see you.

JJ Beazley said...

Aha, I just looked up William Henry Harrison. How odd that only today I was 'engaging the fantasy' that Trump might succumb to a heart attack or something.

Madeline said...

The ironic thing is that Pence might be even MORE like the European Fascist leaders of the 1930s - for instance, he believes that homosexuality can be "cured" with electro-shock therapy.

John Oliver (our resident Brit) said on his show the other day that "giving Trump a chance" to be president is like giving a wombat a change to fly a plane. The news yesterday was all about how Trump has just realized he knows basically nothing about what the president does (aside from build walls). And yes, there's something Trumpishly ironic about stirring up a bunch of hatred and then telling people to stop acting on it.

I don't think it's odd. It's a collective fantasy at this point, spanning nations.

JJ Beazley said...

Really? I thought it was only feminists and murderers who got electro-shock therapy.

OK, I know it isn't funny, but you do have some interesting politicians over there - like the guy from Arkansas who believes that children who don't show proper respect for their parents (whatever that is) should be executed.

Donna said...

Charlie Fuqua – one of the myriad reasons I've NO need to ever visit the South. I Googled him and can't find anything recent on him so I think, depite how well he'd fit in now, he wasn't reelected.

JJ Beazley said...

I remember now - the man with the appropriate name.

Madeline said...

ECT was once a widely used "treatment" for homosexuality - thankfully no longer used since homosexuality was removed from the DSM (Diagnostic/Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases) in the 1970s.

Women were often institutionalized for failing to act like proper wives and mothers. In certain states a husband could commit his wife to an insane asylum for any reason. Elizabeth Packard - who later became a mental health activist - spent years in an asylum for disagreeing with her husband until she won a court case against him, declaring her sane. In retaliation her husband destroyed all of her property and refused to let her see her children, both of which were totally legal since both property and children belonged solely to husbands.

Make America great again!

JJ Beazley said...

Point taken, Mad, and do excuse my levity. Sometimes it's just a pressure valve. And I just read that the mayors of several major cities have vowed to shield their undocumented immigrants from deportation. America looks a little better already. Maybe it takes a dose of badness for the goodness to show itself.