Expat In Bacolod

Stephen Bentley - Writer

Donald Trump: Savior or Demagogue?

Donald Trump – How to Make America Great Again

Donald Trump is undoubtedly a controversial man.  Normally I don’t concern myself any longer with politics and politicians. Many, too many, are liars. This man, however, has grabbed my attention and it is time to speak up.

Facebook Comments

My attention was swung towards this man by various posts I saw on my Facebook timeline. I took a little time to read some of the comments beyond the ones that simply said, “Georgia rocks” or “Trump rocks.” I paid scant attention to such puerile comments owing to  the lack of intellectual analysis contained within such slogans. Apparently “Georgia rocks” alludes to a poll in which a great majority of that state’s voters intend to support Donald Trump.

This Facebook thread coupled with a friend’s interest in these elections (another Brit expat, like me) made me curious. The overwhelming majority of posters in this thread were clearly in favor of Donald Trump and his plan to “Make America Great Again.”

One dissenter caught my eye and he was rebuked for saying that there was a lack of detail in Trumps’s plans. The ‘rebuker’ then posted a link to what he believed was the “master plan” to make “America Great Again.” That link was to the Donald Trump Presidential Campaign website.

I took a look and read carefully the “positions” of Donald Trump and just how he plans to make “America Great Again.”

Let me say at this point that I neither lean left or right. I analyze what “positions” people take whether they be politicians or my car shop mechanic! I also must point this out – America is and was a great nation. It has its problems but don’t all nations to a lesser or greater degree? The other thing that has to be said is that the President of the United States is one of the most powerful offices in the world.

That is the reason this issue and this man affects me as a non-US citizen.  Your President affected me and millions outside of the US in 1963 during the Cuban “missile crisis.” A time I vividly recall as a 16-year-old in Liverpool. My friends would talk about the crisis in the street.

We were all genuinely fearful of the outbreak of a nuclear WW3, especially as Britain was effectively an American aircraft carrier on terra firma. Your choice of President goes way beyond your domestic issues.

Donald Trump

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


 

So let’s have a look at the Donald Trump “positions.”

They fall under five heads –

  1. US – China Trade Plan
  2. Veterans Administration Reforms
  3. Tax Reform
  4. Second Amendment Rights
  5. Immigration Reform

He appears to be blaming China for all of the economic woes that America continues to experience. He blames the undervalued Yuan, China’s “theft of intellectual property rights and lack of environmental and labor standards” for an uneven playing field in trade relations.

Donald Trump may have a point or two here but to try to blame one nation for all of America’s economic ills is ludicrous. It is part of a globalization of markets that has been taking place for at least the last 55 years. It is a problem that is not peculiar to just the US but also to economies such as that of the European Union nations.

It smacks of a populist ideal.

Donald Trump adds, “China’s woeful lack of reasonable environmental and labor standards represent yet another form of unacceptable export subsidy. How can American manufacturers, who must meet very high standards, possibly compete with Chinese companies that care nothing about their workers or the environment? We will challenge China to join the 21 st Century when it comes to such standards.”

Again why target China?  Those comments apply to many other countries. Why don’t the American people simply boycott Chinese goods and buy American instead? The answer may well be that they cannot as the US manufacturing base has been eroded. But whose fault is that? It is certainly not the fault of China. If Americans had cared so much about their own manufacturers then they should simply have bought higher priced American goods in place of cheap Chinese imports.

And as for “We will challenge China to join the 21 st Century when it comes to such standards,” does any sane person thinks China will really care? It is bluster of the highest degree!

That part of the “positions” smacks of isolationism and protectionism to me but denied in the “positions” document.

The other main planks of his position on the US – China plan are these –

  • Lower the corporate tax rate to 15% to unleash American ingenuity here at home and make us more globally competitive. This tax cut puts our rate 10 percentage points below China and 20 points below our current burdensome rate that pushes companies and jobs offshore.
  • Attack our debt and deficit by vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the Federal government, ending redundant government programs, and growing the economy to increase tax revenues. Closing the deficit and reducing our debt will mean China cannot blackmail us with our own Treasury bonds.
  • Strengthen the U.S. military and deploying it appropriately in the East and South China Seas. These actions will discourage Chinese adventurism that imperils American interests in Asia and shows our strength as we begin renegotiating our trading relationship with China. A strong military presence will be a clear signal to China and other nations in Asia and around the world that America is back in the global leadership business.

The first is to be lauded but will reduce tax revenues. Is the American worker prepared to pay more personal tax to offset this reduction? (Rhetorical question)

The second sounds admirable but extremely difficult to implement. (Hot air?)

The third is a tad hypocritical mentioning “Chinese adventurism” in the same breath as an imperialist stance of protecting “American interests” in Asia.

Therefore, all these “positions” can be seen as populist.


 

Under the heading of “Veterans Administration Reforms,” there is a long wish list. All of it sounds very costly to me.  Of course, the aims of his position are admirable but it is once more a populist stance. It is replete with aims, but short on the detail of the funding of the aims.

The “Tax Plan” of Donald Trump is dealt with by “four simple goals.” I tell you to beware of the politician that uses the words simple, tax and goals in the same sentence. He says, ” let everyone keep more of their money.” Right, who wouldn’t vote for that? Detect a note of sarcasm from me? “Doesn’t add to our debt and deficit, which are already too large,” the position makes clear. Excuse me – didn’t you also say you will cut taxes, spend more money on protecting American interests in Asia and do right by the vets? Doesn’t add up does it?

Sounds like more populism right?


 

PROTECTING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” trumpets Donald Trump on the sacred cow of Republican politics. “Here’s another important way to fight crime – empower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves.” is the mantra according to Donald Trump.  Populism gone rampant! Your gun laws are the laughing stock of the sane world!

But Donald Trump has a scapegoat  for the massacres involving guns and that is to “Fix Our Broken Mental Health System“.

He has this to say about “GUN AND MAGAZINE BANS“. “Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”

Wow! What sheer utter nonsense! If I have to explain that then you shouldn’t be entitled to register a vote! You are an imbecile if you don’t comprehend what a stupid statement that really is!

Yet more populism hung on the altar of the Second Amendment.


 

Here is the biggie! Immigration,  and I was expecting some fireworks, but it was actually quite tame. The position of Donald Trump starts off with this preamble –

 

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

Oh my goodness! The guy who wrote that for the Trump “positions” must still be in high school! Talk about stating the bloody obvious!

Then we get into a piece of xenophobia –

For many years, Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well as in other Latin American countries). They have even published pamphlets on how to illegally immigrate to the United States.”

That pamphlet Donald Trump refers to was the subject of an article in the New York Times  in 2005. Ten years ago! The Position then adds –

Meanwhile, Mexico continues to make billions on not only our bad trade deals but also relies heavily on the billions of dollars in remittances sent from illegal immigrants in the United States back to Mexico ($22 billion in 2013 alone).”

I may be stupid, but I don’t follow that. If a worker in America, legal or illegal, sends money back home to his family in Mexico, how is that a case of Mexico (the country) relying “heavily on the billions of dollars in remittances sent from illegal immigrants ..”  It benefits the family of the worker but unless they volunteer to pay taxes on it to the Mexican government, then it is beyond me how that benefits the Mexican state, which is what he seems to be implying. How does he know they are illegal? Does Western Union ask them, “excuse me, senor, are you an illegal?”


 

That deals with his “positions.” But what about Donald Trump and the other “positions” that he fails to address in his campaign document? Those “positions” include things like –

  • foreign policy such as Putin’s Russia, the Middle East and so on
  • terrorism including ISIS and the home-grown version
  • climate change

That list is not exhaustive, simply a guide to what a potential President ought to be addressing.


 

I find it scary that a man who is so blatantly populist in his politicking could be the next president of the United States. He may fool the “whoopers and hollerers” of Georgia, or the “good old boys” or those sheep that follow blindly without analysing his “positions,” but he doesn’t fool anyone with half a brain.

Coincidentally, just before I decided to hit the “Publish” button I came across this extremely intelligent and thought-provoking essay Why Fascism is Rising Again (And What You Can Learn From It).

I thoroughly recommend that you read it. It ought to be mandatory reading for all voters in the United States prior to their Presidential elections. That though is wishful thinking on my part. In any event, the slogans “Georgia rocks”  or “Trump rocks” appear nowhere in the essay so it will be incomprehensible to the authors of those slogans and their ilk.

“Empty vessels make the most sound” is an old saying. I really wish the Donald Trump caucus would shush down and fade away. For the sake of the world!

For the benefit of those who can only communicate with slogans, I feel compelled to offer a dictionary definition of the word demagogue.

A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

Does that help?

2 Comments

  1. Steve,

    You should be granted American Citizenship just for this blog – the vast majority of Americans do not have any type of true understanding of what you laid out here. I’d support that granting of American Citizenship too, however, it would be an insult to you, a rational, thinking, caring human being to be listed amongst the dead-head Americans.

    You said, “America is and was a great nation. It has its problems but don’t all nations to a lesser or greater degree?” True to a certain extent. America WAS great at one time. She is in so many ways the cause of other nations’ problems on so many fronts. As well as her own.

    An example is that when I was living in Costa Rica I met a British barrister who had left the legal system due to certain law changes that had come to the UK as the result of America attempting to appease their masses with knee jerk reactionary laws. America then fostered their fear mongering on other nations. He said the sacred right to a fair trial, and being considered innocent until proven guilty had now been reversed. He asked me once if I knew how to tell a good Brit/American? The answer was – they no longer lived in the UK/US.

    I have since then met other former members of the US and UK legal system who have left their chosen careers for the same reasons.

    • Spot on Jerry but I will pass on the American citizenship 🙂 Coincidentally as you mention the British barrister in Costa Rica, I had an email today from a very good friend and former colleague from the English Bar. He has now quit for the reasons you allude to but also because the whole legal system there, to quote him, is f*$%ed!

I would love to hear from you

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