There’s little more I can add to the flood of commentary that is pouring out these days in criticism of America’s new President. His character flaws are obvious; my only contribution to this discussion is to suggest that they might be intrinsic to late-stage capitalism – the amorality, especially. Or perhaps to Ayn Rand: though I’ve never been able to get beyond the first couple of chapters of Atlas Shrugged, so I can’t be sure. His ignorance – arising from those character flaws: ‘I don’t need to read because I’m smart’ (narcissism) – is equally obvious. The dangers that these two characteristics pose not only to Americans but also to all the rest of us is being shouted around the world just now, especially after yesterday’s executive order banning people coming into America from certain Moslem countries – the seven Moslem countries, incidentally, from which the USA has never been attacked, and leaving out those, like Saudi Arabia, from which she has. It’s suggested that this is because Trump has financial interests in, or obligations towards, the latter. I wouldn’t know.
What is interesting is that this executive order seems to have united almost the whole world against Trump. As well as its inconsistency, and what many critics are calling its cruelty, people agree that the ‘Moslem travel ban’ is bound to be counterproductive. Islamicists will feel that their claim that America is fighting a ‘holy war’ against their religion has now been given added plausibility, so helping them to inspire and recruit even more jihadists. Nearly everyone is saying this. The whole world – apart from our Nigel and Govey – is against him. I can’t recall an American President in history who has been so universally ridiculed, scorned and feared as Trump now is. And, as we’ve seen from the huge demonstrations that have mustered against him in America over the last few days, the majority of his own compatriots – remember he only won a minority of the popular vote – share these feelings with us.
We’ve all been taken by surprise. Speaking for myself, my surprise was that an American President has such huge executive powers at his personal command, before they can be ‘checked and balanced’ by Congress or the courts. (That’s despite my having studied more American than British history at my university, and having lived and worked in the country for longish periods.) It’s difficult for most of us to credit that such a clown can last much longer in the White House; but then it was difficult for us to see him being elected in the first place. The question now is: how might he be curbed, or deposed, before his allotted (initial) four years is up?
There remain, of course, those famous ‘checks and balances’. Regarding the travel ban, there are already legal challenges to that, but they will probably take months or even years to work their way through the courts, and the final Federal Supreme Court can’t be relied upon if Trump succeeds in packing it with his own nominees. The problem with Congress – the other major ‘check’ to the Executive in the American constitution – is that both houses there are dominated by Republicans. Trump isn’t exactly beloved by his own party, so it may be that some of his measures can be shot down by a combination of Democrats and dissident GOP’ers. Let’s hope for that.
The only alternatives would seem to be impeachment, on the basis, perhaps, of his business chicanery or his alleged plotting with the Russkies, or his lies, or a sex scandal (the ‘golden rain’? I don’t believe that, do you?): there’s surely plenty of scope there; or the prediction I made at the end of last year (https://bernardjporter.com/2016/12/31/2017-prediction/), that he’ll be assassinated by his own secret service. Another possibility is that all this international opprobrium might ultimately get through to him, undermining his enormous self-regard, unless he can attribute that to a ‘lying press’. Theresa May might help here, by publicly jilting him, after their brief love affair. That might make him wince. But no – I forgot. She’s in thrall tradewise to the USA, due to Brexit – part of Britain’s ‘regaining control’ (!). – Or, finally, the wheels might simply fall off the coach, stranding Trump in the middle of a great depression or even a little war, say with Mexico (pray God not a big one), and causing most of his support to leak away.
The trouble with any of these scenarios, however, is that we’d then be left with President Pence: less clownish, perhaps, but no less reactionary by all accounts. Whichever way you look at it, things look pretty bleak. As the old Chinese curse has it: ‘May you live in interesting times’.
PS. A good debate in Parliament this afternoon resulted in a motion lambasting the ‘Moslem ban’ being passed unanimously. Strong anti-Trump speeches from all sides. It was proposed by my friend Ed (see https://bernardjporter.com/2016/12/13/bearing-up-in-hard-times/), and seconded by a Conservative businessman of Yemeni origin. Much criticism of May and Johnson for sucking up to Trump. Big pro-refugee demos in cities all over Britain this evening. Encouraging.