Can Trump go back to the future?
ROM this day forward it’s going to be only America first” was the most quoted of President Trump’s sound bites or “kickers” in his inaugural speech.
A sceptical foreign press has poured scorn on the Trump person, the persona, the personality, manner, lifestyle, values and condescending tone. But it worked for many at home. For now. Just imagine, for a wild moment, President Jacob Zuma intoning: “From now on, South Africa first” instead of the usual embarrassing endorsements of the ANC?
Cynics and realists might ask of Trump: “Which America?” Just as they might question Zuma on “which ANC?” Trump is condemned as a “divisive” figure, but he won (nearly) half the votes. What about Zuma as a divisive leader empowered by a divided party, not by the nation?
The Trump rhetoric about “making America great again” has the sinister correlation of building up its military might. Furthermore, it is not apparent how the planned dismantling of Obamacare is putting “America” first.
Trump is an uncomplicated and unreflective capitalist advocating isolationism and protectionism in a globalised world. That is a problem for everybody.
He wants to resuscitate the period when America was “great”. But is it possible to go back to the future?
Geoff Hughes is an emeritus professor formerly with the University of the Witwatersrand.