November 14, 2016
Well. President-elect Trump. So that happened.
Let’s take a deep breath and begin. This is going to be bad. Okay? Unpredictable, interesting, and even, on occasion, good, in the way that a stopped clock shows the right time twice a day. Enough has already been said about Trump’s character. He is not a good, well-balanced, well rounded person. Civilisation has standards. If civilisation means anything, it means having standards, and Trump does not meet those. He should not be President. He is going to be.
So what does it mean? What do we need to remember to understand this situation?
1. Let’s get this out of the way. With the election of Trump, America has effectively abdicated its role as leader of the free world. We cannot look to the USA for leadership because they clearly cannot sort out their internal situation and politics. They cannot run themselves; ergo they can’t run the world.
We have been looking in a de facto way to the USA to provide leadership for years. We can no longer expect leadership from America. We’ve got to grow up and sort things out for ourselves.
Perhaps a bitter pill, but the sooner swallowed, the better.
America has been an empire in decline for a long time and this election just seals it. Their internal problems are now so great they cannot lead the world. They can’t be trusted to. It’s a moral thing. If you can’t sort out your own shit why would we let you try and sort ours?
2. Trump is not to blame for the current state of the world.
There is so much that is messed up in our society and way of life. Trump did not cause these things, though he is a mighty symptom and emblem of them.
We (anyone likely to be reading this) are complicit in the way the world is today; and we did not get here overnight. For far too long we have remained idle and comfortable while other people suffered.
3. The Republican Party is more dangerous than Trump.
Tea Party Republicans are the real danger. If Trump hadn’t got the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz would have. He would be a far scarier President. Any other Republican with both houses behind him would be scarier than Trump.
Trump is a wild card. A dude who doesn’t know what he is doing. He started out running a protest vote campaign in the primaries that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, and his ego wouldn’t let him quit. He does not want to do the job of being President (eg offering Kasich the Vice Presidency and being in charge of all domestic and foreign policy), or possibly even understand what it entails.
An enormous amount is going to turn on who Trump appoints to advise him, and how well he can be controlled and managed. So far the signs aren’t good.
4. Trump does not have the Republican Party behind him.
This is huge. During the election race, a huge proportion of the Republican establishment turned their backs on Trump. He won’t forget that.
Crucial to remember is that Trump hijacked the Republican Party – a party itself riven between its extremist tea party rump and its old guard. Trump’s agenda is not their agenda. This is going to be one of the most fascinating things to watch play out. In a strange way, Trump and the Republicans become the brake on each other’s excesses.
What this means is that no one is going to get what they want.
5. The President has less power than you think.
Obama said this in an interview late in his second term. The President can make people listen but unless he can get them to agree and cooperate, they have their own power bases, and don’t have to do what he says. Trump is not going to bring people together. He is not a politician or negotiator. He is a billionaire autocrat who makes decisions the consequences from which he is insulated.
6. Trump forces change. Change is always double edged.
Trump forces change. Either he will shake things up radically and get his way, or he will be unable to, in which case the presidency is revealed as irrelevant and powerless, and the powers that be that control the world are shown to be not democratic, which itself demands a revolution from precisely those who supported Trump’s message. (I can actually imagine Trump stepping down in under a year, throwing his toys at not getting his way, calling the whole system corrupt.)
Every action prompts an equal reaction. The fact of Trump forces the left in America to slap itself hard and start engaging with reality in a new way. The fact of Trump forces the rest of the world’s leaders to start leading on the pressing issues of the day, be they wars, climate, or the changing economy.
The fact of President-elect Trump demands a reaction from every sane and responsible human being alive. For we all have power. We just need to own it, reclaim it, and start using it wisely, each and every day. We can and need to do better. And we are many.
Welcome to interesting times. Are you ready to play?