The Trump Presidency: a Necessary Evil?

24 Mar

The question of whether or not Donald Trump actually wanted to become President of the United States remains without a definitive answer. While he at times has openly relished being elected, other instances seem to indicate a dissatisfaction with actual job of President. Be it photos from election night, the media empire he missed out on, his daily Twitter explosions which vent his numerous frustrations, the backstabbing he continues to endure from some of the closest people in his circle, the nightly beating he takes from various late-night hosts, the scores of people from his inner circle who have already faced prosecution and been convicted of a litany of crimes, the prospect that he and his family could be next in line for prosecution (at both the federal and state level), the financial hit his family’s business  interests have taken since taking office, the amount of time he spends golfing (which some have equated to 25% of his presidency thus far)  or the advice he himself would give to his younger self, there are plenty of valid reasons to believe Donald Trump actually regrets being elected President.

While speculation on whether Trump himself regrets being elected President is likely to continue, there are definitely a number of people who are thrilled with the outcome of November 2016. The ultra-wealthy have seen a tremendous boone to their bottom line as not only were corporate taxes slashed which enabled companies to buy-back shares at unprecedented rates thereby enriching shareholders and CEOs, but Trump has made a point of attempting to help out/bail out (conservative) old money who have financial stakes in industries that have been on the decline for years like the fossil fuel industry, with of course a special focus on the coal industry.  Of course, many have argued that share buy-backs are only artificially keeping the market afloat, have pointed out that the CBO has stated  that the Trump tax cuts will greatly increase both the U.S. deficit and debt, and that Trump’s efforts in relation to the coal industry are unlikely to last, at least for a time the ultra-wealthy can say they were ultra-happy with brand Trump.

In fairness, it is not only wealthy elites who have benefited from the Trump Presidency as white supremacists nationalists have been ecstatic under the President’s banner of intolerance which has only serve to embolden them and openly allowed them to flout their own agenda of white supremacy and nationalism. And who can blame them? For years now they have had to hide their racist and xenophobic proclivities and for eight years before Trump they further had to internalize their hatred toward the fact that a black man occupied the highest office in the land. With Trump, no more. The President’s overt racism towards Muslims,  Hispanics, African Americans, or anyone who differs from what  a white supremacist’s nationalist’s notion of what America should look like made it open season for America’s bigots to proudly exclaim their own suppressed hatred towards people of color and general intolerance. From Charollettesville two years ago to Laura Ingram’s on-air open declaration on a major media outlet a few months ago to  Jeaniee Pirro’s  regular xenophobic and Islamophobic comments, this is truly a golden age for intolerance (although in relation to the latter it should be pointed out that Fox realized it had some standards and took her off the air for two weeks following her racially motivated attack on Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar). And while some may think that  America’s racist renaissance is limited to intolerant pronouncements and protests, the spike in hate crimes in the last two years reported by various U.S. law enforcement agencies  is proof positive that intolerant rhetoric only begets intolerant action. This is of course to say nothing of the prominent mass shootings and acts of domestic terrorism white supremacists have committed, and often in places of worship, since Trump took office. The connection between these acts and Trump is not merely a correlation as his fingerprints were often all over the ideology inspiring these monsters. As one example, the terrorist responsible for the March 2019 mass shooting of Muslims in New Zealand specifically singled out Trump as a symbol of white identity. And to those who might think that Trump’s rhetoric is not responsible for the actions of others, scientific evidence leads to a different conclusion with numerous studies confirming that a leaders’ authority and their prestige with the larger community were instrumental in the radicalization of followers.[1]

However, while Trump’s presidency might be viewed as a dumpster fire for anyone who is not ultra-wealthy or a white supremacist nationalist there does appear to be a silver-lining for everyone else. More specifically, Trump’s presidency and his far-right politics have not only stimulated Americans across the political spectrum to become more engaged in politics, but they have also served as a powerful foil for progressive politics. In relation to the latter for example, it is hard to imagine the rise of the #Metoo movement, the ‘Blue Wave’  [and record number of women (and diverse women) to elected to Congress], the acceptance of Medicare for all (which includes the majority of Republicans), that minority groups would come together in solidarity in the wake of white supremacist induced tragedy, in Climate change initiatives, the real prospect of free post-secondary education for all, and the recent passing of common sense control legislation by the House (coupled with similar legislation by states across the Union), were it not for Trump’s misogynist, racist, elitist, intolerant, and ignorant brand of politics. In essence Trump’s vitriol has been met with such resistance that the result has actually opened the door toward a new and brighter future, much like a miracle cure, as opposed to a plecebo or Tylenol, would be for a terminally ill patient. As such, without Trump it is likely that status quo politics, that have for so long forsaken non-elites, would have continued with a just-right of centre or even just-left of centre President.

So even if you, like most Americans, disapprove of Trump and his tenure as President, there certainly does appear to be reason for hope. If nothing else, Trump’s time in office has galvanized the people to engage in a long overdue discourse of what is truly important to most Americans and allowed for a progressive agenda to take hold in mainstream discourse. However, should that not be enough, one can take solace in the fact even without impeachment, it appears likely that Trump’s term in office will come to an end within the next two years if recent data is to be believed. Of course, data has been wrong before, so rather than speculating on future elections, for now solace can lie in the fact that a long overdue progressive conversation is happening and with it a populist platform that actually has a chance of working for the people has emerged.

[1] Milla, M. N., & Ancok, D. (2013). The impact of leader–follower interactions on the radicalization of terrorists: A case study of the B ali bombers. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 16(2), 92-100

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