Trump Presidency: Fear is the Key

By Ameen Izzadeen
We said last week that it was too early to judge the United States’ president-elect Donald Trump, notwithstanding his outrageous campaign utterances. But as days pass by, our fears are only increasing however much we say “give him a chance.”
Soon after his unforeseen victory, he appeared cool, calm and composed. His acceptance speech after the November 9 victory was uncharacteristic of the political monster we saw on the campaign trail. He was sending a message to the Americans and the world that he could be trusted and there was no need to entertain fears about his presidency.
Later, in interviews with the Wall Street Journal and CBS, he acted president-like. In a composed manner, he answered the tough questions, displaying that he had the temperament to be the leader of the world’s most powerful country. Yet the fear about his presidency grows with each day.
The president-elect is now receiving daily briefings from the officials who are responsible for the United States’ security and economy. He is being briefed about US secret programmes, foreign policy goals and wars across the world. The president-elect, analysts say, will have to work with America’s friends and allies if he hopes to succeed in tackling world issues. They say he won’t be able to put into practice his protectionist economic policies. Soon he will learn that the United States will stand to gain by following a free trade policy. Soon he will realise that if he follows his protectionist economic policy, the very people who voted for him would be hard hit. They would have to pay more than double or treble the price of a ‘made-in-China’ product to buy a ‘made-in-USA product’.
In what could be Trump’s first tryst with reality as far as the United States’ multiple wars are concerned, two US soldiers and two contractors died in a bomb blast last week in Afghanistan. He would surely have been briefed about why the Americans were still there – fifteen years to be exact. President Obama, driven by his idealistic principles, set a 2014 deadline to withdraw US combat troops from Afghanistan, but he changed his mind probably upon being convinced by the Pentagon strategists that the troops’ presence was necessary to pursue US geopolitical interests in the region where China and Russia are increasingly asserting themselves.
On Monday, addressing a White House news conference, President Obama acknowledged that the office of the president was not a blank cheque. The popular president had a piece advice for Trump. He said: “Regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up. …and those aspects of his positions or predispositions that don’t match up with reality—he will find shaken up pretty quick, because reality has a way of asserting itself.”
Despite such assurances, the fear about the Trump presidency keeps growing.
Fear not the Trump presidency, supporters may say, and claim that the Republican party big wigs who were opposed to Trump’s candidacy now control Congress and they can keep him in check. Despite such checks and balances, the fear about the Trump presidency looms large.
This is because Trump is different and could be irrational. A PBS documentary on Trump suggested that his entry into the 2016 election fray was not to serve America but to take revenge on Obama for publicly ridiculing him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Obama’s jokes there came in the form of a satirical response to the Trump-initiated controversy over his birth certificate. Instead of taking Obama’s jokes at their face value in keeping with the tradition, the egotistical billionaire saw it as public humiliation. Some analysts believe that it was at this dinner that Trump resolved to run for the presidency and take revenge on Obama, the first Afro-American president of the United States. Trump appears to have a rebellious schoolboy mentality. So he could be dangerous and all his good behaviour since his victory could be a red herring. He cannot be trusted with the nuclear code. Fear is the key factor of his presidency. The US has never before had a president who embraces conspiracy theories. He says climate change is a hoax made in China. It is an understatement to say that the world fears the Trump presidency.
The fear that is gripping the United States has split the country right down the middle. One section fears that the Trump presidency could undermine American values and harm the minorities and the environment. The fear has driven them to protest against his presidency with slogans such as “He Is Not My President’.
Fear is also the stock of Trump supporters. It was this fear the white middle class had that powered the Trump victory.
Fear — call it xenophobia — is a political tool that self-centered politicians use clinically to grab power. This type of fear instills in the majority a ‘victim mentality’ and incites them to hate the Muslims, the Mexicans and other minorities, the imagined cause of all their problems. And Steve Bennon, named this week as chief strategist and counselor to president-elect Trump, is the chief advocate of this fear.
“Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action,” Bennon, head of the ultar-rightwing news portal, Breitbart News, said in a 2010 interview.
He was also reported to have said he was a ‘Leninist’. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too,” the Daily Beast quoted him as saying. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
An out and out white supremacist, he played a key role in the Trump victory. His presence in the Trump team stokes fears among the minorities. He is an anti-Semite and the US Jews, who are said to be in control of the ‘Establishment’ which the Trump team wants to dismantle or reorganise, are feeling, perhaps for the first time since the end of World War II, that they are not part of America.
Infighting over the formation of the Trump transition team and the likely cabinet is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Reports spoke of ‘knife fights’ between various personalities. Some have quit the team in disgust while others frown upon the role Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner plays. It is said that Kushner, who is married to Ivanka, wanted Governor Chris Christie removed from the post of the chief of the Trump transition team, because Christie, when he was serving as an attorney general, had sent his father to jail for tax evasion. Revenge politics: Like father-in-law like son-in-law.
Need we say that Trump’s election will put governance in the United States in a stinky swamp?
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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