Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Garth Rattray | Trump unmasked America

Published:Monday | November 14, 2016 | 11:00 AM

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump won the Electoral College. Too many people voted for a man who will win at any cost, lay waste his opponents by denigrating, maligning and trying to embarrass them. Misogynistic, chauvinistic, irreverent, divisive, hateful and opprobrious, he would not have accepted defeat even if it meant denouncing the entire electoral process as being rigged (against him).

Obviously, too many voters in the USA couldn't care less that their next president, the undisputed beacon of the free world, was sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in 1973, openly boasted about sexual predatory behaviour (kissing and/or groping unwilling women who he found attractive), called his own daughter "voluptuous", admitted to promiscuity, conveniently declared bankruptcy repeatedly, stiffed some workers, paid low wages, took advantage of the loopholes in the tax laws and did not contribute federal income taxes for about two decades. It didn't matter to many American voters that he refused to declare his income taxes by using false and lame excuses.

It was just fine with many voters that Mr Trump teased and mocked the physically challenged and that he does not view prisoners of war who were tortured as war heroes. He hijacked the Republican Party and his ascendency was assisted by direct foreign interference in the American election process. This man, whose finger will be on the nuclear button, flies off the handle if he feels insulted and believes that the way to gain peace in the East is to allow more nations to acquire military nuclear power - but that's okay for his followers.

The president-elect does not understand the intricacies and delicate web of foreign policy. Trade is not just about economics; it's an essential tool for assuring peaceful coexistence between nations. Severing or significantly compromising those trade deals will cause financial stress, instability and breed hostility and aggression - but the people who voted for him don't care about such things. They adore his rhetoric of advocating a heavy-handed America that browbeats its trading partners and allies into submission.

 

Non-conformist persona

 

His supporters relish his anti-Establishment and non-conformist persona. They are enraptured by someone who has no political experience and never served his country (although, astoundingly, Trump equates his business dealings with the sacrifices of those who risk life and limb fighting for their country). He has frightened, inflamed and disgusted many foreign leaders. Some see him as crass, crude and dangerous - but all that doesn't matter to his supporters.

His supporters (mostly white, blue-collar workers) only care that he has bragged that he will bring jobs back to America, keep out illegal Mexican immigrants with a wall (that Mexico will pay for), deport them wholescale, and put a hold on accepting suffering refugees (if they happen to be Muslim). He promotes torture for terrorist suspects and attacking their families - but that's all okay with them.

Many things bother me about the overwhelming support for Mr Trump. He is admired by Vladimir Putin and white-supremacy and xenophobic groups. But I'm particularly troubled by the unfair, double-standard and racist message this sends to the entire world. If, during his bid for the White House, Barack Obama had done or said any one of those things that Donald Trump did and said, he would never get near the primaries. If Obama had lewdly bragged about groping women, or denied minority rent, or mocked any physically challenged person, or had five children by three women, he would not be considered White House material. In other words, after all that has happened in America, racial tolerance and equality appear to be only very flimsy masks.

Hillary Clinton has issues of trust and transparency, but if Trump supporters believe that he can change the way Washington works, they better dream on.

Even the perceived great and revolutionary messiah, Trump must play the usual political game before beginning to try to get anything that he promised done, and many promises will prove undoable. The only positive thing about this year's Trump experiment is that the Establishment now realises that it must evolve and become open, inclusive and responsive or lose the trust of a disgruntled and disenfranchised populace.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.