Just who is this 45th US president-elect? Will the real Donald Trump please stand up.
When Donald Trump questioned Barrack Obama’s American citizenship with ever increasing ferocity and questioned his right to be president, he probably hoped and dreamed, but did not really believe, that he would one day sit next to him in the White House as President -elect in the Oval Office.
The day came, Trump came, at Obama’s invitation, and the look on Obama’s face showed his true feelings for the man whom he had the good grace to invite to the White House, despite the attacks on his integrity and honesty.
- Attention grabbing promises on Muslims, the Mexico wall and stopping Obamacare have been watered down
- Choice of individuals for his new administration has aroused great controversy
- Contradictions and conflict seem likely to continue despite a promise to unite the US
Reality has now arrived in the Trump camp, as it moves from a campaign to a “prepare for power” machine, stuttering, stalling and not quite on track, but sure of its destination. The abuse of Hilary Clinton, the dark threats of investigation and incarceration, the wall which might now be a fence, the healthcare reform which might not actually destroy Obamacare: the long list of threats and promises has already washed up on the shores of political reality.
All politicians retreat from campaign promises, often using the handy excuse for taxation or spending promises that the government finances were even worse than they had feared. As if on opening a safe in a back office somewhere the pile of cash was smaller than anticipated. Realistically most of the relevant facts, at least in most developed countries, are fairly well known before any safes, drawers, or statistics are opened or examined. Post-election in the US, money, at least at this stage, is not the issue.
What is perhaps surprising in Trump’s case is that a campaign fuelled by so much exaggeration, hype, anger and “turning back the tide” promises has so rapidly abandoned or watered down its pledges on core issues.
The raging redneck tide of his supporters, surging on a virtual tsunami of spittle and suspicion, has hit the front of the good ship Trump rowing in the opposite direction.
Let’s look at some of his (broken) promises
Hillary Clinton: Threatened with a special prosecutor a few weeks ago, will now be given “time to heal”. The Donald has come over all Oprah just when he should be looking for his handcuffs.
Obamacare: Much hated by many Republicans and others for added costs to their healthcare bills and viewed as an almost socialist sickness – Trump has now reconsidered repealing the entire act and told CBS he wants to keep its “strongest assets”.
That Wall: Is now likely to be a fence in places and there is no sign of Mexico promising to pay for it or explanation of how Trump will make them do so. In an outbreak of perhaps too much honesty Newt Gingrich told NPR “He may not spend much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it. But it was a great campaign device”.
With the much reported ban on Muslims entering the US, already watered down before his victory, now likely to be the suspension of visas for countries “where adequate screening cannot occur”, another big headline promise has gone from a bang to a whimper.
Perhaps the biggest issue for those in the US concerned about illegal immigration was the original promise to deport 11.3 million undocumented immigrants . This has now been reduced to a commitment to deport two to three million people “who are criminals and have criminal records”. Quite a difference by any measurement, in the numbers and nature of those being checked out. And as with the wall and Mexico’s support, it begs the question of how many of this group heading south will be met with open arms.
A real test of Trump’s popularity is how the President-elect will be treated by his supporters as the euphoria starts to ebb away and the list of readjusted pledges begins to grow. If the promised jobs are generated on the back of huge infrastructure investment and new manufacturing jobs, then perhaps the Muslims, Mexicans and much maligned Obamacare will be forgotten.
It is hard to see how the manufacturing jobs will return though, however many international trade agreements are torn up. Globalisation has moved jobs abroad to low wage countries and unless companies are keen to reduce their profits – which would be a new dawn – even Mr Trump will have trouble turning this tide. Not believing in global warming is one thing but not believing in globalisation or believing you can turn it around is to deny a reality we all know to be true.
The summary of the story so far is a bit like Donald Trump.
Sometimes surprising, often a mass of contradictions, generally unpredictable but still very likely to upset large numbers of people.
In the last week or so, even as various comments about individuals have been watered down and election promises have been remixed to sound slightly different, Trump’s selection of people to work for him has caused great concern.
Take away a ban on Muslims, reduce a wall to a wall and fence, amputate some of Obamacare without killing it entirely but then throw candidates such as Jeff Sessions (Attorney General), Mike Pompeo (CIA Director) and retired general Michael Flynn (National Security Adviser) into the mix, and you have a bubbling mixture known as Anxious America Stew. Add a pinch of Stephen Bannon (Chief Strategist) and the pot is at boiling point. For all those concerned about Trump’s intentions, beliefs and ability to unite the country, the views of these men on issues such as Islam, racism, the NSA and many other topics have aroused great anxiety and disappointment.
It remains to be seen whether Trump can unite the country, work with his allies, revive the economy and become a globally respected figure in the four years he has, but the signs so far are that a bumpy road lies ahead. If he can keep off Twitter and remember that real estate is not really real life, there might be hope for us all.