THE OBSERVER

The tired policeman

“Tyranny may always enter, there is no charm, no bar against it. The only bar against it is a large resolute breed of men”.

Walt Whitman


He is the President now. Some can’t fathom how it ever came to this, while others believe that America is now being led by a winner who will avert economic decay. Either way, Donald Trump has become the 45th president of the US.

The transition months leading up to his inauguration and the profile of his government appointees have confirmed that Trump’s vocal range is a narrow one. Marked by nepotism and a blatant disregard for any conflict between personal and public interest, he has built a homogenous environment for himself. It includes businessmen with no previous public experience, such as Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, a man with a background in the oil industry who unashamedly described himself as a “global ambassador for the oil and gas industry”, as reported by the NY Times.

Today Trump is showing himself to be as he was did during his campaign: individualistic, narcissistic, rash and sympathetic to the America that expects immediate solutions to a changing reality.

Trump is a poor but grandiose public speaker whose policies are vague, but he promises prosperity and putting America first, a tempting formula in uncertain times.

Trump is able to successfully address the section of the American population that has become impoverished and lost security as a result of the dizzying changes brought about by globalisation, process automation and the nation’s deindustrialisation.

These are the same Americans who long to see their country rise again like a majestic eagle flying over the world, but who are tired of paying the massive bill associated with global leadership. They are the ones who do not want any more body bags flown during the night to air force bases without any recognition abroad, the ones who seek the prosperity that would allow them to bring back the American Dream. In fact, America was already feeling the need to withdraw when Obama was voted in. It needed to overcome the recession and the wars overseas which George W. Bush had become involved in. Americans were fed up with marginally successful military ventures in the world’s hornet’s nest which appeared to be more of a show of force at home —disguised as an operation to export democracy—, rather than a strategically useful move in the war on terror. Eight years later, if Trump’s policy is at all coherent, it appears to advocate isolationism and siding with Russia to fight a trade war against China while snubbing Europe. The policeman no longer feels compelled to lead the free world and this is a huge geostrategic shift.

Europe’s role

What will Europe do? The Old Continent must actively stand by its values. It is a leading trading space worldwide, with privileged living standards and respect for people’s rights. Most Europeans today were born during a time of peace, they enjoy a welfare state where differences are respected and gender equality is guaranteed. They should realise that civilisation cannot be taken for granted and that the threat of darkness, bigotry and superstition is relentless.
A xenophobic, sexist president succeeds a black one who supported diversity. Anyone who feels tempted to take Trump’s lack of respect for women lightly should simply put themselves in their shoes, always at risk of being demeaned or taken advantage of. Some of Trump’s views are ancient, nearly neanderthal. Respect for others is not guaranteed and the future will not allow us to remain neutral. Trump is a volcanic alpha male. An individual who is quick to blow a gasket and lacks the temperance and humility required to realise everything he doesn’t know.

On Saturday thousands of men and women marched all over the country. They were a reminder that Trump is everybody’s president and the spirit of “We, the people” is not the spirit of those who mix private business with public affairs, the ones who regard women as a pastime and resort to hollow, anti-political slogans in the name of a people whom they do not respect. Only the balance of power, the courage of the republicans and the bravery of media will prevent our worst fears from coming true.

Saturday’s massive demonstrations remind us of other struggles for dignity and respect for human beings of all colours and genders. There is no assurance that women will be treated with respect. They are still confronted by the guardians of orthodoxy on their high horses and the disdain of those who take advantage of a position of power.

This is not the fight of a minority, not even a fight between men and women, but the struggle of respectful people who are willing to live together and share power and responsibility. In America and the whole world.

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