Trump un­masked Amer­ica

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Garth Rat­tray Garth A. Rat­tray is a med­i­cal doc­tor with a fam­ily prac­tice. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com and garthrat­tray@gmail.com.

HIL­LARY CLIN­TON won the pop­u­lar vote, but Don­ald Trump won the Elec­toral Col­lege. Too many peo­ple voted for a man who will win at any cost, lay waste his op­po­nents by den­i­grat­ing, ma­lign­ing and try­ing to em­bar­rass them. Misog­y­nis­tic, chau­vin­is­tic, ir­rev­er­ent, di­vi­sive, hate­ful and op­pro­bri­ous, he would not have ac­cepted de­feat even if it meant de­nounc­ing the en­tire elec­toral process as be­ing rigged (against him).

Ob­vi­ously, too many vot­ers in the USA couldn’t care less that their next pres­i­dent, the undis­puted bea­con of the free world, was sued by the Jus­tice De­part­ment for racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in 1973, openly boasted about sex­ual preda­tory be­hav­iour (kiss­ing and/or grop­ing un­will­ing women who he found at­trac­tive), called his own daugh­ter “volup­tuous”, ad­mit­ted to promis­cu­ity, con­ve­niently de­clared bank­ruptcy re­peat­edly, stiffed some work­ers, paid low wages, took ad­van­tage of the loop­holes in the tax laws and did not con­trib­ute fed­eral in­come taxes for about two decades. It didn’t mat­ter to many Amer­i­can vot­ers that he re­fused to de­clare his in­come taxes by us­ing false and lame ex­cuses.

It was just fine with many vot­ers that Mr Trump teased and mocked the phys­i­cally chal­lenged and that he does not view pris­on­ers of war who were tor­tured as war heroes. He hi­jacked the Repub­li­can Party and his as­cen­dency was as­sisted by di­rect for­eign in­ter­fer­ence in the Amer­i­can elec­tion process. This man, whose finger will be on the nuclear but­ton, flies off the han­dle if he feels in­sulted and be­lieves that the way to gain peace in the East is to al­low more na­tions to ac­quire mil­i­tary nuclear power – but that’s okay for his fol­low­ers.

The pres­i­dent-elect does not un­der­stand the in­tri­ca­cies and del­i­cate web of for­eign pol­icy. Trade is not just about economics; it’s an es­sen­tial tool for as­sur­ing peace­ful co­ex­is­tence be­tween na­tions. Sev­er­ing or sig­nif­i­cantly com­pro­mis­ing those trade deals will cause fi­nan­cial stress, in­sta­bil­ity and breed hos­til­ity and ag­gres­sion – but the peo­ple who voted for him don’t care about such things. They adore his rhetoric of ad­vo­cat­ing a heavy-handed Amer­ica that brow­beats its trad­ing part­ners and al­lies into sub­mis­sion.

NON-CON­FORM­IST PER­SONA

His sup­port­ers rel­ish his anti­Estab­lish­ment and non-con­form­ist per­sona. They are en­rap­tured by some­one who has no political ex­pe­ri­ence and never served his coun­try (al­though, as­tound­ingly, Trump equates his busi­ness deal­ings with the sac­ri­fices of those who risk life and limb fight­ing for their coun­try). He has fright­ened, in­flamed and dis­gusted many for­eign lead­ers. Some see him as crass, crude and danger­ous – but all that doesn’t mat­ter to his sup­port­ers.

His sup­port­ers (mostly white, bluecol­lar work­ers) only care that he has bragged that he will bring jobs back to Amer­ica, keep out il­le­gal Mex­i­can im­mi­grants with a wall (that Mex­ico will pay for), de­port them who­lescale, and put a hold on ac­cept­ing suf­fer­ing refugees (if they hap­pen to be Mus­lim). He pro­motes tor­ture for ter­ror­ist sus­pects and at­tack­ing their fam­i­lies – but that’s all okay with them.

Many things bother me about the over­whelm­ing sup­port for Mr Trump. He is ad­mired by Vladimir Putin and white-supremacy and xeno­pho­bic groups. But I’m par­tic­u­larly trou­bled by the un­fair, dou­ble-stan­dard and racist mes­sage this sends to the en­tire world. If, dur­ing his bid for the White House, Barack Obama had done or said any one of those things that Don­ald Trump did and said, he would never get near the pri­maries. If Obama had lewdly bragged about grop­ing women, or de­nied mi­nor­ity rent, or mocked any phys­i­cally chal­lenged per­son, or had five chil­dren by three women, he would not be con­sid­ered White House ma­te­rial. In other words, af­ter all that has happened in Amer­ica, racial tol­er­ance and equal­ity ap­pear to be only very flimsy masks.

Hil­lary Clin­ton has is­sues of trust and trans­parency, but if Trump sup­port­ers be­lieve that he can change the way Washington works, they bet­ter dream on.

Even the per­ceived great and revo­lu­tion­ary mes­siah, Trump must play the usual political game be­fore be­gin­ning to try to get any­thing that he promised done, and many prom­ises will prove un­doable. The only pos­i­tive thing about this year’s Trump ex­per­i­ment is that the Es­tab­lish­ment now re­alises that it must evolve and be­come open, in­clu­sive and re­spon­sive or lose the trust of a dis­grun­tled and dis­en­fran­chised pop­u­lace.

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