I am finding it increasingly difficult to hold a discussion with anyone lately without feeling compelled to issue forth with a condemnation of this man, not an opinion but a condemnation. That compulsion I find, frankly, oppressive. I cannot bring myself to satisfy my conversant by issuing the same blithe, inane, throw-away epithet that I feel is expected of me. The truth is that in all things I would like time to consider the facts, to arrive at a balanced judgment, to enter into some sort of discourse perhaps but all this is barred to me. There is no discourse to be had, that has been banned, a fatwa issued to the effect that anyone not instantly joining in the condemnatory chorus of chants is, by definition, condemned and subject to vilification and ostricisation.
The fact that I, amongst probably no more than a hundred others on the planet, predicted his election back in November 2015, holds no sway. Being the messenger, I guess, makes me the target. It is true that I expected the runoff to be against Bernie Sanders, not La Clinton – that was a gift to the master of The Apprentice – but I expected his experience of celebrity and “reality TV” would trump (forgive me) the political credentials of the former. I never for one second expected the popularised populus to elect La Clinton, who represents everything they say they are fed up with. The only thing she had going for her was her gender but guys, even the women get that being a woman isn’t what the job is about. Before I am attacked for “even the women”, I am emphasising that women don’t fall for that crap, probably less so than men do, not that women are in any sense the lesser gender.
I have to confess, my deepest regret is that at the time I had no idea that it was possible to place a bet with a bookmaker on the outcome of a Presidential race or, for that matter, any election process. I know, I know, I can be as dumb as the dumbest in some things, or perhaps a little slow on the uptake these days. It’s a regret because apparently I could have cleaned up and retired comfortably. Now some people, roughly half of them, will find it slightly odd that I name this as my “deepest regret” with Mr. Trump but it’s true. That may say something about me or it may say something about their over-investment in the reality-TV process of Western Democracy. I’ll let you decide.
I believe that the United States of America has got exactly the President it deserves, indeed the President it has been working towards for several decades. That is not a comment to suggest that I am either in favour of or against the man, I said all I meant to say. Whether he turns out to be good for the country or not is something we will have ample time to pontificate on once he leaves office, in either four or eight years’ time. Possibly sooner but at least by then so it’s not too long to wait, if I could just ask a little forbearance. The young of course are, by design, rather too impatient to wait. They haven’t yet awakened to the insignificance of their paltry lifespan and so still view things with themselves at the centre of all things that matter. Patience, les jeunes, patience.
These lovely young people, no patronising inference intended, have been inculcated with a modern definition of democracy, the particular version they have been sold, and they genuinely believe that, in their lifetimes, all the world, all 196 or so of the countries in it, will come to think the way that they do. That all human beings will love thy neighbour, renounce violence, work together to solve the world’s problems and generally rid the planet of all the bad things. I know they think this, didn’t we all, once? Then we grew up and learned what countless generations of clever sentient human beings in the four corners of the Earth had recognised before, eons before. Human nature is what it is and evolution changes nothing. If evolution changes nothing, it’s easy to accept that social and political “progress” is an illusion or at least has even less effect but, when you’re young, this is not something you ever want to accept. Why carry on living if it’s all a crock of the proverbial poo? Well, welcome to our world. We’ve all asked ourselves the same question, every white, black, brown and other shaded skin of us. This human race spends a great deal of time on that very question but carry on, we do.
Why we carry on is because we only have two choices. We can end it all – painful to ourselves and all those around us not to say at least equally pointless – or we can carry on and make the most of what we have. What we have is quite literally fantastic. Unique. Beyond belief. What we have is not dictated by he or she who sits in the White House, though it could be said that they could have some influence on whether we have an Earth left to sit in. What we have is what we dictate for ourselves, what we strive for, what we determine, how we apply ourselves and by “we”, I mean you and me. It helps if we can rely on support from our families and friends but it’s hardly a pre-requisite and it most emphatically does not depend on the leader of any one of those 196(ish) countries, nor on any of the many lackeys with which they surround themselves or with which we surround them.
One thing we all come to realise in time, and heaven knows why it takes us so long, is that these people, these leaders, these politicians, they are just fallible human beings like you and me. They too are afraid of the dark. They too are feeling their way in this mysterious unfathomable life. None of them are imbued with superhuman powers of reason and intellect and they are certainly not above all the more base and frivolous aspects of human nature. Great leaders aren’t necessarily great politicians, though they may become so. Politicians aren’t necessarily great leaders, though they might likewise become so. Rarely do we find the two characters in the same body. Mr. Trump, I will say, is neither of these things. Perhaps it is that which is feared so. Human beings, as a general rule, do not readily accept change and Mr. Trump is certainly a change. For better or worse? Well, one day we’ll know the answer to that but, for now, he’s just different.
I’ll say this for the man, he is currently doing exactly what he claimed he would do during the election process, for the most part. That’s different. That doesn’t chime with our experience of Western Democracy. I predicted that he might be like this but I wasn’t sure. It was clear, well over a year ago, that he had learned how to appeal to a mass vote. How to pick the topic of the day, how to dumb it down, how to make it understandable to the audience in question, how to touch their buttons. I can’t fault him for that. I certainly flinch at the base instincts he appealed to but these are real and present base instincts and it is no bad thing that we recognise that. If there is any blame to be attached for the beliefs that have been exposed then it must surely attach to previous politicians who have failed in their duties regarding immigration and assimilation, not to say in the enforced education of which they are all so proud. To start with, we could adopt the label of “American” and ditch all the acclaimed ethnic sub-categories.
If Mr. Trump were a great leader he would have found finer words to make his points, better reasons for you to agree with him, perhaps he’d even have been able to find simple words that his followers could relate to and which you too felt you could buy into. If he’d been a great politician, this is what he would have done, and he would likely have lost. If he failed, in one or the other, he would have lost the election as so many have done before him. He calculated, he ran the numbers and that’s what makes him clever, that and his thick skin. He set his mind on the prize, he learned how the game is won (The Apprentice ratings) and extrapolated from that how it is to be played to win. He played by your rules, rules that have evolved from a poor beginning to a tumultuous end. No-one reads, no-one thinks, everyone wants wall-to-wall noisy TV throwing ten second soundbites at their audience, in between the raucous adverts, when no-one is listening – and calling it news. When Facebook is the main source of “news” for a large part of the population I’m afraid “Gomorrah” is all that comes to mind, that and “Sod ’em”.
You protest things, he got things done. While you were worrying about offending the sensibilities of a fashionable minority, he spotted that 50% of the people cared more about a job, a roof over their head and food on their tables. If you’ve always had these things then you might not be so concerned about them. Only your temporary affluence allowed you the luxury to say that you care about others’ misfortune and only your temporary affluence affords you the time to stand in airport terminals shouting and placard waving and intimidating people like me.
I neither voted for him, nor for any other, I neither sympathise or empathise with him, I admire his ambition, his guile and determination. I recognise that he’s not my ideal travelling companion but I will not join with you in shouting him down until and unless he starts doing genuine harm. When that happens I’ll gaze skyward for inspiration as I had to when (the Democrat) JFK ramped up the war in Vietnam and when (another Democrat) LBJ took it to new heights. As I did with each and every war that followed and that made my heart bleed, wherever in the world it occurred. When Bush/Blair razed Iraq, caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of my fellow human beings and let loose a reactionary clan of radical lunatics across a third of the planet, I wanted to kill them both – preferably before they could get started but I was weak.
When my fellow citizens are blown to smithereens travelling to work on their bus or their tube train, I remember these two hapless, catholic, gung-ho incompetents, and not fondly. When Obama promised to close the disgusting abomination at Guantanamo, I still believed him. When he bombed Libya, I damned him and when he joined with the sadists in Saudi Arabia in bombing civilians in the Yemen, I abandoned him – and that’s not to mention his appalling financial management. As for Le or La Clinton, don’t make me laugh. The only promise Mr. Trump has failed to make good on so far is that prosecution but then, he’s sensible enough to know what people in glass houses should always be aware of.
If President Trump follows suit with his predecessors, all of the recent ones if I recall correctly, then expect me to have something to say but here’s a strange thing, what if he really is as good as his word? What if he really does refuse to get into foreign military adventures that don’t directly affect the defence of the USA? He just might turn out to be a minor hero of mine.
My daddy only ever gave me two pieces of advice, more’s the pity. One of those was, and forgive the quaint language of the day: “Don’t ever trust America. It has the greatest internal debt in the world and the only way it can sustain itself is to be perpetually at war”. Well, for all of my lifetime that’s not something he’s been proved wrong on. Perhaps this might be it? I’m not holding my breath.
Something like one half of America has recently woken up to the fact that the other half doesn’t think like them, perhaps has different experiences to them. Perhaps I’m rushing ahead rather fast there because, on reflection, no, I don’t think that second thought has started to gestate, just yet. One can only hope that it might.
Two hundred years ago, one “half” of the population didn’t understand why the other half thought that owning other human beings and enslaving them was a bad thing. The leaders of this very same country, no less than the general populus, the masses. A hundred years ago they still felt that way. Fifty years ago, things started to change. Patience, les jeunes, patience.
Two hundred years ago at least half the people thought a central bank, banking in general, was a very bad thing. Since then they’ve failed to care except when it blows up in their face and takes their home from under them, or their job or their life’s savings. For forty years the vast mass of the population, the Western population, has been oblivious to the fact that the inequality gap isn’t widening, it’s gaping. Wealthy people just get exponentially wealthier and poorer people get poorer, that’s because the earnings of the poor are being transferred to the wealthy. Nothing has changed. In this new Feudal society, we keep the peasants down by feeding them the crumbs of “democracy” whilst the top 1%, of which I am ashamed to be included, owns more than the bottom 50% of the world’s wealth. What did you do about that when you were screaming your epithets, when you were lauding your Democrats. Don’t protest this, do something about it, stop buying the shit they sell you. Start reading, stop shouting.
People are very fallible things with very short and often distorted memories. Who remembers what it was like to live under President General George Washington, two hundred years ago? Who thinks what he did for the country was a good or a bad thing? Who even knows what he did or did not do? Who will feel able to answer these questions regarding President Trump in another two hundred years? People, unless something spectacular happens – and if it does, then so be it – the Earth will still be turning on its axis, people will still be being born, laughing, crying, dying and killing each other, there will still be dumb people and smart people – rather more of one than the other – the sun will be rising every morning and human beings will still be inhabiting this fantastic, this unique planet. Do something with it.
For women in need of an abortion in America, things will be more challenging but I believe there will be plenty of people ready to assist, with both money and facilities, and it’s good that you learn to be independent of your government which cannot do everything for everyone, all the time – especially whilst it espouses and encourages freedom of religious belief. Turn to your Social-Media-Tech billionaires, have them fund these programmes. They have enough to say for themselves and they have all your money, they certainly have more funds than your government, let them put your money where their mouths are.
Finally, I say, forget protesting Mr. Trump, unless you have something useful, constructive, interesting and QUIET to say. You have only one thing to ask yourself. Are you planning to make the most of things that you possibly could? Do you try to be a “good person”? Do you love your friends, your family and your neighbours as much as you could? I don’t ask that you top Einstein, Roosevelt, Churchill or Ghandi and please never emulate Mother Theresa. I ask only that you stop shouting at other people, stop buying into group-think, group-feeling, social-media-fuelled-hysteria, learn to read a little, converse a little, forgive a little, recognise different perspectives a little, try to understand a little but most of all take responsibility for your own choices, your own culpability, and stop projecting responsibility for all that onto other mere fallible human beings in whose striving for power and control over other people’s lives (possibly to make up for something lacking in their own) you not only participated but actually proselytised for and collude.