Trump To The White House, The World To The Doghouse, By Owei Lakemfa
I did not prepare myself for a Trump Presidency. Despite my analysis which pointed at a different direction, I tried to convince myself that the American electorate had matured with age. However, I thought electing him was a likelihood. So in my March 11, 2016 column titled “If Americans Throw Trump At Us”
“I reflected on contemporary American politics; one in which the country sinks to some political or moral low, and then gets somebody to push it up… So is America not capable of another descent by picking a Trump?… Electing him would be like handing over the White House to the Ku Klu Klan. Ordinarily, Trump should be an American reject, but if the US throws him at the world; it must be ready for a reject.”
The reality with Tuesday’s election is that the Americans have thrown Donald Trump at the rest of humanity. He was politically incorrect; a tax dodger who bragged of being smart about it; a racist, who makes a flourish of it; religious bigot who profiles Muslims; a loud mouth who has no respect for women as human beings; a husband whose wife made a living in nudity; an advocate of shackling the press; and an employer who does not believe in paying workers for job done. He challenged the very basis of the American elite political culture of accepting the outcome of a political process in which he was a willing participant. Rather, when he was a Republican presidential aspirant, he told the party to either elect him as their candidate or he would break ranks and run as an Independent. As a candidate, he told the American people that he is either elected, or he would reject the outcome of the election because, according to him, “This is a rigged system”.
Trump is so temperamental that his aides thought it better to withdraw his Twitter handle so he does not commit more blunders and thereby jeopardise his electoral chances. This prompted out-going President Barack Obama to taunt him: “Now, if somebody can’t handle a Twitter account, they can’t handle the nuclear codes.”
In terms of a programme, he was vague. It was more of theatricals like vowing to build a big wall along the border with Mexico and making the latter pay for it; imposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US; bombing ISIS and taking ‘the oil from them’, when in reality the oil belongs either to Iraq or Syria. He also repeatedly threatened to jail his opponent, Hillary Clinton if he is elected. However, he had some serious but vague proposals like bringing back jobs to America, renegotiating the North American Trade Agreement, tax cuts for all, repealing OBAMACARE which favours the poor, and reopening negotiations on the Iran Nuclear deal – which is actually a multilateral agreement.
Trump also promises to encourage greater gun access to ensure a balance of terror in case of mass shootings, and also to revive the Bush/Cheney policy of torture, especially waterboarding, or more extreme measures. He also has some programmes I identify with, including maintaining the existing social security system and non-encouragement of same-sex marriage. Trump threatens to impose tariffs on Mexican and Chinese goods. This will be good because it would be challenging the unethical religion of market forces and trade liberalisation. This threat demonstrates his position that he would play by the rules only if they benefit America. It is a brand of nationalism that reminds me of President Ronald Reagan who redrew the world in the image of far right America. Reagan damned international opinion by supporting Apartheid South Africa, broke American rules with impunity including the illegal sale of arms to Iran, arming the contra rebels in Nicaragua and mining civilian ports in that country. Trump is a light hearted Reagan who went to school; he adopted Reagan’s policies to the extent that he plagiarised the latter’s 1980 campaign slogan: “Make America great again.”
After the rhetoric and the campaigns, the hoodwinking and elections, reality sets in for all. Trump says he will be president for all Americans; has he a choice? Of course, Trump will not implement many of his nebulous programmes, but those who claim that American institutions are so strong that they will beat him into line may be mistaken. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for instance, didn’t emerge from this election unscathed; it is yet unclear whether its role in the last week of campaigns was a result of poor judgment or a deliberate meddling in the electoral process. Also, Trump can be quite powerful and bulldoze his way. This is more so when he has an undisputable electoral victory and a Republican-controlled Congress and Senate. As for disagreements in the Republican Party, victory can heal most of it. In any case, what has come to power is the Tea Party without the initiators of the movement. One word to describe Trump is ‘unpredictable’.
What is however predictable is that the American arms industry will expand with more wars likely to blow out or be encouraged abroad. In the immediate term, I will not be surprised if Trump agrees to end the Syrian War by discouraging rebels, including the so called moderates propped up by America.
Internationally, the world may be in a dilemma on how to handle a brash Trump who campaigns for torture as a legitimate part of diplomacy and argues that Climate Change is a hoax. The European establishment, which favoured Clinton over Trump, may work harder at standing on its own, especially in military terms, as a Trump Presidency may not adequately fund the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Also, his victory has given hope to European fascists and far right parties that the time is ripe for them to come to power.
What Africa may lose is African migrants taking up residency in America under tighter conditions. But it is unlikely that the master-servant relationship between America and most of Africa, will be affected.
It is not unlikely that with Trump, the American prestige and culture in the world will wane, while Russian prestige may rise. Also, while fumbling Europe tries to find its feet, China may turn out to be the greatest beneficiary of contemporary politics. What the American electorate has done, is send bumbling Trump to the White House and the rest of the world to the doghouse. The world may be stuck with Trump for the next four or eight years. Who knows; the first woman to be American president and First Lady to also be president, might be Mitchell Obama.
Owei Lakemfa, former Secretary General of African Workers is a Human Rights activist, journalist and author.