Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Great American Dream – Trumped?

The eighth day of November 2016 will be etched deeply in the memory of many a mind around the world for the fact that an event which was deemed possible but not probable in the remotest consideration was carved into reality by the American public – Donald John Trump had not just defeated the crowd favorite, Hillary Clinton in the race for the US Presidency, but virtually battered her out of contention long before the final results were out. Donald Trump, a man thus far known more for his brashness, misogyny and political incorrectness than for his achievements in the political arena, Trumped all contrary expectations, including those of a majority of Washingtonians, not to mention those of a battle-bruised media – impaled time and again by his unrelenting barbs, to become the President Elect of the most powerful nation of the world.

Trump’s election rallies leading up to that phenomenal victory were flush with promises of resurrection of America in the eyes of the world (under the assumption that it had fallen from that pedestal, a theory which many would vehemently contest), and to give back to Americans which had so far been denied them due to a liberal immigration policy and outsourcing of jobs to non-Americans elsewhere in the world. By campaigning for Americans, Trump was also not bashful in being seen as a protagonist mainly for white Americans, and in making speeches discriminatory to non-white American citizens and immigrants (that he mentioned his affinity for “Hindus” once or twice seemed more like an expression of casual fancy and counted for nothing in his overall racist rhetoric). In the same context, when the whole world has been loath to associate global terrorism with any particular religion, he minced no words in giving terrorism the brand name of Islam and promising to make all Muslims persona-non-grata in the US if he came to power. It is all very well to design an election campaign with bohemian promises and declarations to cater to the interests and emotions of a certain section of the laity, which is not uncommon even in our own country, and promises during such campaigns are always taken with more than their allocated pinch of salt. However, it is far from common to see a politician actually get about fulfilling each and every promise, that too with such amazing alacrity, even before the dust of a furious election campaign had hardly settled down. Donald Trump is very unlike many of his predecessors, in that he is a man hard to read, and harder to predict. In keeping with this character, he is throwing up one surprise after another, as he goes on an order-signing spree, with all the impetuosity of a charging bull. He started with the cancellation of Obamacare – the high profile social health mission launched by the outgoing president, which in itself was not such a bad thing perhaps, in the eyes of many Americans, but the actions that subsequently followed began ruffling feathers everywhere – at home and abroad alike – as he launched into diplomatic offensives against countries he perceived to be a either burdens or inimical to the interests of America. First on his radar was China, whom he has all but branded enemy number one, as he threw an open challenge to the Asian giant over its claims over the South China Sea, as also its influence over Taiwan. Then he signed an order to put into action his much-vaunted election promise of banning entry of Muslims into the US, as he signed a blanket executive order banning visas to all citizens of five Muslim majority countries, one of which was Iran. It has come as a surprise to many that Iran has featured higher on the potential terror list, ahead of countries with greater potential on that front – namely, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But it seems like there is a system to Trump’s “madness”, even as his actions betray a definite lack of political understanding. This is more emphasized in the fact that even strong American allies such as Japan and Austrailia had to face the brunt of his coarse diplomacy – Japan being chided for its lack of contribution towards American welfare, and the Australian PM reproached for being an intransigent ally in Trump’s racially and communally disintegrating policies. It is now becoming ominously clear that Donald Trump’s politics and diplomacy are guided solely by his personal likes, dislikes and prejudices rather than by any factual evidence to boot. In the midst of all the pandemonium, however, India has managed to hold its ground, somewhat vindicated – on the terrorism front, somewhat relieved – in the hope of Trump being less of a patron for Pakistan, yet somewhat mortified, given Trump’s assertions on immigrant workers “snatching” the jobs that rightly belonged to native Americans.

Coming to the bigger picture in the context of the US of A, perhaps the biggest cause for concern is Trump’s utter disregard for public opinion in respect of his policies, and his presumptive arrogance in labeling all those who oppose his actions, including a vast majority of the print and visual media, as stooges propped up by his political foes to derail his “vision” for America. Yet, the most important and indisputable fact that has eluded his consciousness till this point is that America is a land built upon a foundation of it being a country of immigrants, who have lent their blood and sweat to build the many edifices of democratic  and mutual co-existence that America is so proud of; of it being a country where people are at a greater liberty to live the life of their choice and express their opinions than most other parts of the world; and most of all, it being a land where the divides of race, color and religion are not to erode the values of civil liberty that America stands for – all of which are enshrined in the American Constitution and have gone a long way towards realizing the Great American Dream as visualized by the illustrious ancestors of the great nation. Has Donald Trump given a thought to what might happen to this dream in the pursuit of his own, contrarian dreams? America, with all its innate flaws such as racial discrimination and religious intolerances, has been a country of right-thinking citizens, who have all been continually striving to make American society free of such evils, which is what makes it a country worthy of emulation. It certainly can do without a person, that too one who occupies its highest office, from embarking upon such misadventures which are likely to tarnish that carefully nurtured image. 

Trapped in The Web

With the turn of the century, I graduated from inland letter cards to email; from landlines to mobiles; and from social visits to socia...