When Trump entered the fray to become President, his chances of success were almost universally rated as being as low as the single digits. Notwithstanding that, Trump confounded all the critics and naysayers and ultimately captured the Presidency.
Are we now any closer to take the measure of the man? What has been revealed so far? Has he already blotted his copy book and should he even he given the benefit of the doubt in future?
Main picture: A smirking Donald Trump, a defining characteristic of the man
By admission, I am not an admirer of Trump. His bombastic demeanour does more than not suffer fools gladly. More like a Mussolini or a Hitler who, despite lacking details, will propound at will on all manner of topics as if they are au fait with the subject. In the process, they treat their knowledgeable underlings as fools. This ultimately never augurs well for the future.
How did America get to this impasse? In fact one could make this question more expansive and replace the word America with the noun “the world.”
Such an abrupt change occurred because the world was possibly at an inflection point. Germane to this was a backlash against overweening political correctness, a limitless smorgasbord of ‘minority rights’ and Western guilt for all manner of internal and global ills, perceived victimhood and historical grievances and a plethora of other demands from the left.
In essence, concepts such as political correctness are no more than good manners writ large but, taken to extremes, becomes a weapon brandished as a tool of censorship & tyranny. It is this self-serving version of politeness and manners taken to an absurd extreme which was the catalyst. The self-correction came in the form of Donald Trump.
Added to this volatile mix in America’s case, was the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, the so-called Tea Party, whose version of democracy is take-no- prisoners. In advancing their Libertarian agenda, no compromise is permitted. Ultimately, this stance is doomed to failure and the casualty will be Republican Party itself. Already Trump has been tripped up by his faction when he attempted to repeal Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. Instead of recognising it as closer to their vision of the future, it was a case of all or nothing. In line with this viewpoint, the Tea Party voted against the repeal!
In another era, some wit said of Eisenhower, when he was elected President, that he would fail as a president on the basis that he would issue a command, as if he was still in the military, and he would expect that the instruction would instantaneously be obeyed. On the other hand, politics is a process of convincing people to vote for a proposal whether it is a new law or the budget. Trump suffers from the self-same delusion that his word is law. Being the boss in business, and a bully to boot, he never tolerated discussion let alone countenanced dissent. In politics, it is different.
In how Trump develops his view of the world, Hitler comes to mind. In fact Hitler, like Trump, refused to consult his advisors but relied upon his own knowledge to determine how to handle a situation. Look how badly the resultant effect was for Germany. Except that in Trump’s case, he will hopefully be forestalled by the checks and balances of a functional democracy.
The one issue that raised its head even during the Presidential Campaign was not only Trump’s lack of grasp of the facts, but also his utter lack of regard for the truth. This was particularly blatant and noticeable during the presidential debates. The networks introduced a system a “fact checking” whereby a panel of experts would assess the accuracy of his answers point by point.
As an example, Trump claimed that unemployment had doubled during Obama’s term of office whereas in fact it had more than halved to the lowest point in 15 years. How can Trump be President if his understanding of what is happening in America is so inaccurate? In fact as a daily reader of the New York Times, they daily list the factual errors that Trump has uttered the previous day. It is not as if the facts are inaccurate by a narrow margin or by order of magnitude but rather that the facts are totally unsupported by fact. At issue is the fact that his policies are being determined from an inaccurate and extremely limited base of knowledge.
The Los Angeles Times recently berated Trump for “his scary willingness to repeat alt-right conspiracy theories, racist memes and crackpot, out-of-the-mainstream ideas.” The one irresponsible theory to highlight this penchant of his, is that global warming is a Chinese plot. In fact, the process by which runaway temperature increases arises, as occurred on Venus millions of years ago, was established and verified by an American scientist more than fifty years ago. Moreover, the threat of global warming is a real and present danger. As scientific tests have conclusively confirmed, the tipping point to runaway temperature increases, is one trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Already the world has half that quantity and the expected date at which the disastrous trillion tonnes will eventuate is in 30 years. As this is a cumulative figure, the production of carbon dioxide will have to cease in toto or alternatively a method of sequestering carbon has to be developed prior to that inflection point.
Finally, what sets Trump apart from his predecessors is his “shocking lack of respect for those fundamental rules and institutions on which the American government is based.” He is akin to a visitor who tramples on all the social norms and customs and is blissfully unaware of it. Only somebody as bombastic and vain as Trump could act like a barbarian in genteel company.
Lastly, what I personally abhor about Trump is his lack of acumen in the English language. His inability to form an articulate thought or express an idea is by now legendary. Ironically in that regard he is no better than President Jacob Zuma.
On all counts, I cannot make any ringing endorsements of any attribute of Donald Trump. I can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt or reserve judgement. By displaying scant regard for the norms of society, he adopts an almost infantile bullying approach to leading America. Even at his inauguration, he never displayed a presidential persona.
I now have the measure of the man and I am profoundly disappointed. As the leader of the free world, one expects more, so much more.