Sunday, 13 November 2016

Playing the Trump Card

Disclaimer: This is probably a topic that coul be considered very controversial, and could result in some really heated discussions (not that people actually comment on my posts, but just in case). I am not writing this post as an expert, or even understanding American culture beyond what I see on Hollywood, but rather as an outsider who simply wants to throw a few thoughts down on the internet. While there might be those out there that disagree with me (or mis-interpret what I have written), I will say that I am not a particularly big fan of the guy, especially with his mysoginistic, racist, and homophobic views. I do understand that there are people that believe we have become too soft and need to harded up a bit, but I don't believe that anything gives us the right to be abusive or a bully.

Once again, unless we have been living in a cave in the middle of the Hymalyas, or in a Yurt in the frozen wastes of Siberia cut off from the rest of the world, I'm sure we all now know the result of the American Presidential Election - the guy who was basically written off as a joke from the word go, the guy whom nobody believed could actually become president, the guy the the world pleaded with the United States not to vote for, the one whose big mouth has earned him the name (at least where I am concerned) of 'The Trumpet' is now the President Elect of the United States.

Am I surprised - No; am I shocked - no; do I think the world is going to end - no, not really, but it certainly is going to be a lot difficult for some people, especially in the United States, in the coming years. Honestly, what surprised me is that the media is acting as if such a thing could never happen - seriously, if Pauline Hanson and two other extreme right one Nation senators can be elected in Australia, and Tony Abbott elected on a platform of three word slogans, mysoginistic outbursts, and empty promises then anything is possible. On the other hand look at the choices - seriously, I would have been more surprised if Hillary won considering that she is not particularly liked and basically represents the establishment.

Then again, doesn't Trump also represent the establishment - okay, he is not actually a member of the political class, and comes into the scene from outside the Beltway, however he is still an incredibly wealthy man who is probably on really good terms with many of the career politicians. The thing is that he is not your typical American politician, which is interesting since it appears that Presidents seem to come into the job from outside the Beltway (which was the case with Carter, Regan, Obama, and now Trump). As for shocking, no I don't think so, considering the sad fact is that there are still a lot of extreme right-wingers out there that Trump was able to connect with (and then there are those who, despite being appaulled at Trump's rhetoric, simply could not bring themselves to vote Democrat, or even Hillary).

The Spin

The way I see it, and I am certainly speaking as an outsider (even though if you travel out into the Australian bush you will encounter a very conservative, redneck, anti-stranger mindset there as well), is that one of the main reasons that Trump won is that he appealed to a core constituency in much the same way that Obama appealed to his constituency - this is what Romney, Clinton, and Cain lacked - they were insiders, and as such they didn't understand, and weren't able to relate, to the people that they were trying to get out to vote for them. However Trump, and in the same way Obama, was able to give these dissaffected people hope, with Obama the people of colour, and with Trump the white working class. In a way, just as Labour in Australia have lost touch with their core constituencies, the Democrats have lost touch with theirs (though I have always envisaged the while working class voting Republican while the latte sipping intellectuals of the cities voting Democrat).

The question that is raised is how much of his rhetoric is Trump intending on following through with - sure Obama campaigned on closing Guantanamo and ending the wars, however America is still at war in the Middle East and Guantanamo is still operating. However it seems that Trump may not actually follow through with his promises, such as kicking Muslims and Mexicans out of the United States, or imposing tarrifs on imported goods. Let us consider a couple of these for a moment.
Mexicans: the one thing that comes to mind when people talk about Trump it is the idea of building a wall between the United States and Mexico, and making Mexico pay for it. Personally, I don't think this is going to happen, and Mexico is already saying that they will refuse to pay for it. Seriously, short of military intervention, how is Trump going to force the Mexican government to pay for this wall - send them the bill? Take them to court? As for Mexican immigrants, or illegals that some Americans I have spoken to have referred to them - considering that they are an important part of the American economy I don't see them being kicked out anytime soon, especially due to their role in the agricultural and domestic service industry. Sure, they may be stealing jobs, but that is because they are willing to accept much less, and work much longer hours, than the average American, which means that they are a much more attractive workforce than legal American citizens.

Globalisation: Another thing is the suggestion that Trump will tear up the trade treaties that have cost Americans jobs, and to impose tarrifs on imported goods. Well, considering most goods are now imported, and a bulk of them coming from China, I don't see that happening either. The problem is that these goods are cheap, and as soon as you start smacking tarrifs on them the price of these goods suddenly go up. The idea of tarrifs was to protect the domestic industries, and to make goods manufactured at home as competitive as those manufactured in countries where the cost of production was much lower. The problem arises when there is no domestic industry to protect, which means that the end cost of the products suddenly go up. Also, if Trump were to impose tarrifs on imported goods you will find other countries doing the same.

Sure, there is this faint hope that maybe he will start tearing up these trade treaties that have resulted in a lot of hardship and suffering from many around the world, but I have a feeling this is not going to happen - Trump doesn't seem to care about people outside the United States, only those inside - the idea of tearing up these treaties is a question of jobs and growth, not human rights, intellectual property, and having the freedom to pirate A Game of Thrones without fear of being sued for doing so. In the end Trump is a businessman and if there is one group that you can be assured that he will be looking after only one group - business men.

Cleaning Up Washington: Well, I think it is pretty evident that this was one massive furphy that Trump trooted out on the campaign trail. In a way is sounds like John Howard's (a former Australian Prime Minister) concept of the core and the non-core policies - that is the ones that are kept and the ones that are discarded. However, the thing is that you aren't actually told with promises are core and which promises are non-core until after the election (though it is quite clear, as Tony Abbott found out, that people generally don't buy that argument). However, Trump allegedly claimed that he would crack down on lobbyist access to the president and for staffers becoming lobbiests for a time after leaving government service. Well, it seems as if that isn't happening, especially since his staff is now being packed full of lobbyists.

Locking Up Hillary: I suspect that this had a lot to do with the emails, however the suggestion is that he won't be doing that now, not that him making that suggestion was actually a good, or comforting, thing. Apprently the backflip is that he is now going to leave it up to the justice system to deal with Hillary, and the FBI have since indicated that they won't be pressing charges regarding the emails. Mind you, I'm not at all that familiar with the contents, or the whole issue, with the emails, however if the Democrats are going to claim that it was the whole email scandal that cost them the election then they may need to sit down and do a bit more soul searching.

In fact, there are suggestions that he may have already started backtracking on quite a few of his promises and showing a different side now that he is president than when he was on the campaign trail. Remember, Trump was one of the key figures behind the birther movement, but all of a sudden, when he is sitting in the Oval Office with Barrack Obama, he now calls him a 'good man'. There is even a suggestion that he won't be repealling Obama care. Okay, there is a difference between what is said on the campaign trail and what is done in reality, but it appears that the Trumpet has taken this to a new level - as if he will say anything to get elected, but have no intention whatsoever of following through with any of his promises.

Response from the Left

Once again the Left and the Right are butting heads, but this is the nature of the polarisation of our society. When the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Gay Marriage there was an outcry against the Left's 'softness' and the fact that they burst into tears every time somebody says something even mildly offensive. However, the question of offense is always going to be a difficult one to address - where do you draw a line between 'toughen up and get over it' and 'I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have said that'. In reality it is actually a very, very fine line, and I can see issues on both sides of the fence. Sure, I agree that it is wrong to persecute the LGBT community, but what about when the court rules against a baker that refuses to bake a wedding cake for an LGBT wedding? In a way the left is getting up in arms over this, but when it comes to boycotting Israel because of their actions in Palestine then it is okay (and note that it is actually illegal in England to boycott Israel). 

The same is the case with companies - when the Conservative government was elected in Australia one of their plans was to make boycott's illegal. This sort of flies in the face of free trade, and also raises the question of what is actually a boycott. The thing is that if I have a company that refuses to do business with another company for whatever reason I shouldn't then be compelled by the government to do business with this company - it goes against the principle of free trade. Okay, there are some professions, such as the legal profession, where you aren't allowed to refuse to represent somebody on the grounds of ethics, but that has more to do with giving people equal access to justice as opposed to forcing somebody to bake a cake, or to purchase our uniforms off of a known human rights abuser.

Yet the Right are making accusations against the Left for being cry babies because their candidate didn't win. Well, as it turned out their candidate lost back in July when Clinton took the Democratic nomination, and many of them gritted their teeth and voted for the candidate that they didn't really like. However, we must remember that for eight years Obama has been facing an incredibly obstructionist Republican party who refused to compromise on anything (in much the same way that the Conservatives in Australia, who are held hostage by a handful of extreme right wing politicians, refused to compromise on anything the Labor Party proposed). However, when the tide has turned there is an automatic expectation that we 1) give this particular person a go and 2) seek to find a common ground. Well, as it turns out, the common ground where it comes to most politicians (and politically active people) is my way or the highway - I have seen this time and time again, in both the left and the right, that I really don't want to indentify with any of them.

What Can We Expect

Personally, more of the same. Okay, the left aren't going to be happy, and they will be out in the streets protesting pretty much everything he does - but then again Obama faced the same opposition throughout his presidency. As for Trump, sure, there is going to be this short term ethusiasm from the white supremecists and the extreme right wing of the nation, as well as a surge of nationalism, but I wouldn't expect all that much to change (with the exception of a shift the right right in economic and domestic policies). Sure, he campaigned on getting rid of Obamacare, but it now seems as if this may not eventually happen (though I have to admit my ignorance on the way Obamacare works). In a way I am expecting to see something similar to the Regan Administration where Regan was basically the figurehead and the country was run by his advisors.

Then again isn't this what the President supposed to be in reality - a figurehead. Sure, he signs off on laws but in the end it is his advisors that make the decisions and the recommendations, and in many cases the President simply goes along with them - he did pick them, and there is a pretty good reason why he would have picked them - they know what they are doing and they agree with him. In a way the President is not much different to being the CEO of a major corporation, something that Trump is. Okay, there is the political storm that one needs to navigate, but in many ways there is little difference between that and big business.

Look, I am no fan of Trump, and I am certainly no fan of his extreme right wing, mysoginistic, racists comments such as 'grab them by the pussy'. In fact that is the one thing that stands out about this guy - his incredinly chavinist attitude towards women, as if they were little more than an object for his enjoyment. Mind you, some have suggested that Tony Abbott was Australia's version of George W Bush, but in reality, compared to Tony Abbott, George Bush was actually a half decent person (even though I didn't agree with a lot of his policies). However, it seems as if, instead of us following America's lead, America is following our lead, particularly since Tony Abbott is known for his constant attacks against Julia Gillard, Australia's first female Prime Minister, and comments such as 'ditch the witch'. Mind you, the amount of crap that Julia had to put up with as Prime Minister was amazing, and is a testiment to her ability to stick it out.

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Playing the Trump Card by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images or videos that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license. Use of these images are for illustrative purposes only are are not intended to assert ownership. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me

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