I know it is positively absurd to quote oneself but last November after Trump won the White House I did write a piece about it: http://baldysblog.co.uk/2016/11/09/trump-wins-the-oval-office/ and I ended it with the following which is worth repeating as we move forward :
“In the end, Trump may well surprise us all and get positive change going both at home and abroad, let’s hope so even though there must be a suspicion that he is likely to be just another windbag. Either way he is now on the big stage, it is now time for him to perform…”
As I wrote in that earlier piece, I didn’t think that US citizens were offered a stellar choice in the two candidates put up for the Presidency in 2016, both were pretty flawed in one way or another and it certainly didn’t help to see the typical low poll turnouts that happened yet again. However, I consider myself a friend of America and previous US Presidents I didn’t fancy prior to their reaching the Oval Office have generally turned in a pretty good job so I would wish Trump well in what is a difficult but crucial job for the World.
However, the early signs were not good with regard to Trump who didn’t do what every President Elect candidate did before him which was to use the Transition period to build bridges, form alliances and bind the wounds of what are often quite bruising election campaigns. In fact it is difficult to understand what Trump actually did with his ‘Transition’ period because almost 10 months later, there are literally hundreds of US Government posts that are in the gift of the President that just aren’t filled or even have candidates nominated for them. He seems to have spent the time prior to his Inauguration just holed up in Trump Tower in New York and done pretty much nothing to prepare himself for the job and it shows quite alarmingly.
Eight Months of Trump
To say that for a Western Leader, Trump is very unusual would be an understatement, he is crude, very unpredictable and apparently self obsessed in a manner that is more akin to people like the current Turkish President or some African tin pot dictator. Even Putin who is certainly very focussed on his own image seems very refined and sophisticated when compared to Trump.
To project yourself as being a bit of an unpredictable oddball could be actually be a very clever tactic and a good way of unsettling potential rivals and enemies if behind it all there was a vision and strategic game plan to what Trump wanted to achieve whilst in Office but, there is little sign that the man has a clue. It is almost as if he had no idea what the US Constitution is, where the Presidency fits within that, let alone as a consequence how you have to do the job, whether you like it or not.
Trump comes across as almost childlike, someone told him it was the “Biggest (Bigliest) and Most Important job in the World” so he expects everything to be his toy or plaything, he orders it and it all gets done ! Imagine his frustration when he starts to realise that the US Constitution was deliberately designed over 200 years ago to prevent people like him having unfettered power by splitting it between the various branches of Government, Congress and the Judiciary no one has absolute power.
To summarise the story thus far, we seem to have a totally incompetent Administration led by a vain man who is totally incapable of discharging the obligations and duties of the high office he holds and doesn’t have a clue about any of it. Difficult though it may be to stomach “ North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to watch ‘reckless Yankees’ a bit longer before deciding on Guam attack” does not seem an unreasonable headline and Kim Jong-un is well known as also being totally bonkers !
A little while back and after the UK’s strange election result, I was talking to a friend and both Theresa May, her grasp on her job as PM and Donald Trump came into the discussion, how long would either last ?
I pointed out that in her first term as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher was dealing with a very poor economic situation she inherited from the previous Labour Government and as a consequence, there were lots of cuts in public spending so it wasn’t likely that she would be re-elected at the next general election but then, along came the Falklands War and that changed everything. For Theresa May, the difficulties of the Brexit negotiations are such that only a total lunatic from within her own party would want to oust her from Office before those are tied up because whatever the final deal, neither side (Leave/Remain) will be satisfied with the result. Having been left with the shitty end of the stick, circumstances might well mean that she has the time to recover her position and authority despite what appears to be the case right now.
The question therefore comes down to whether Trump could suddenly be gifted an opportunity to become “The Man” for most US citizen because of his deft dealings with some external problem ? The answer must be that these things are possible though the sheer size of the man’s ego which seems to need constant flattery to keep it smoothed makes it very unlikely. So what is likely to happen with his Presidency ?
The Trump Decline
Leaving aside that some unexpected external event appears that raises the Trump Presidency to new heights what are the prospects for Trump, a second term ? Unlikely. Impeachment or that other American staple, assassination ? Possible.
As US citizens seem pretty disconnected from the political process when it comes to voting: 2000, 54.2%; in 2004 60.4%; 2008 62.3%; 2012 57.5%; 2016 55% and Trump hasn’t stood down from ‘campaign’ mode since entering the Oval Office his future is an interesting one. He is fiercely trying to hold on to the core vote that got him elected at the cost of any kind of national unity ( The Robert Mugabe Ploy), so I expect him to go beyond the mid terms next year.
However if the Republicans lose heavily in the mid terms it will have two significant effects: The Republicans will be highly motivated to dump Trump asap so that they can find a new candidate for the 2020 race. Additionally Trump will be keen to find an excuse to resign rather than face not automatically being readopted by the Republicans as their candidate or being adopted then lose that Presidential election something one suspects his ego wouldn’t stand living with.
But more important than the precise mechanics of his leaving will be his obvious decline that even his most ardent supporter cannot fail but to recognise. This must also be matched by a Democratic Party that finds some fresh and mentally alive candidates with good communication skills, the public will need a “better alternative option” plus people right across that party who can deliver a sense of hope for the future. Donald Trump didn’t create the divisions that exist in US society, these already existed but he did exploit them to get into the White House and he continues to add to them rather than making any attempt to heal them.
The high hopes of him from the business community seem to have fallen away noticeably, accelerated by Charlottesville and his inability to work with “The Hill” to get any kind of cohesive legislative program done seems to doom him to failure. However, his biggest contribution to the United States of America will in fact be this total failure as a President.
The Trump Legacy
It may seem an odd thing to say but Trump’s very public failure in this highest of public offices may well prove to be his greatest gift, indeed his Legacy to the USA and its governance. The more spectacular it is, the more painstaking its documentation the better because his story is the stuff and plot lines that Shakespeare thrived on as both comedy and tragedy. The odd thing is that even though for not the best of reasons, Trump has the potential to become one of the best remembered, US Presidents of all time, films and TV series about him will be irresistible to Hollywood as all stories about “how not to do it”are, an American Icarus if ever there was one, his name will live forever.
But the most important part of his legacy should be on the American electorate and body politic as a whole. A country always gets the government it deserves so if the US thinks it deserves better than this man, it needs to take a hard look at just how it selects its candidates for the Presidency and seriously think about changing it so that the massive budget requirements to even contemplate a “run for office” are changed to something more fitting for our digital age and with the potential for a new class of contenders, there really has to be a better way of doing this.
Trump campaigned on “Draining the swamp” by which he meant the incumbents of Washington’s beltway but as he is finding out, it isn’t as simple as that. You need people around you that know how the current “system” works, changing that way of doing things is another matter altogether but you must always start by understanding the way it is before you can change it for the better.
New Blood Needed
There is one other oddity that from a British perspective seems bizarre in a country that threw off the “Yoke of the British Crown” when it declared its independence from Britain, the constant desire for dynasties like a quasi royal family. We have had the Kennedy’s, Bush’s, and Clinton’s, it is time that Americans grasped that whilst being born into the job as the British Monarchy are, is fine and works because their constitutional role is highly defined and the job is distinctly non executive, this does not apply to the executive role of the US Presidency.
Because your daddy was once a US President does not make you a suitable candidate for the same role. I write this because I saw several articles towards the end of last year that were extolling a presidential run in a few years time by Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hilary, why ? And why should Jeb Bush have been deemed a suitable presidential candidate last year when it seemed his own family thought him a bit ‘dodgy’? This is total nonsense.
It is not because Americans desire their own royal family it is all bound up with the way bids for the US Presidency are funded/sponsored and to the ‘investors’ who fund this, a bit like iPhone 5,6,7 and 8 or Die Hard movies 1-8, they prefer reliable upgrades and remakes to genuine innovation. The problem is that we are reaching a time and place where innovation and reaching out to bind the highly diverse cultures and peoples of the USA together is really needed, the old ways just won’t do any more.