Church & State

Fast-changing world of Donald Trump

Letter from Trump’s America

It was famously said by distinguished sociologist Peter Berger that the United States is “a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.” Sweden is the most secular country in the world and India the most religious. He used this analogy to show the discrepancy between the United States’ ruling minority and the country’s population.

Over the last few months the world has watched in amazement, uncertainty and not without some fear, the election of a powerful businessman with no political ties or experience and even less political savvy, take over as leader of the powerful nation on earth.

Donald Trump’s leadership of the free world is meeting with less local acclaim now than when he was first elected, but near universal disdain depending on your (political) point of view. His approval rating in the US stands at 40 per cent, his disapproval rating stands at 53 per cent.

By contrast President Barack Obama had an approval rating of 63 per cent in April of 2009, George W Bush’s was 61 per cent in April of 2001. The highest recorded rating ever was John F. Kennedy in 1961 when his approval rating was 81 per cent.

While most Americans think they know what makes Trump tick, Europeans and the rest of the world are far less certain what to make of a former celebrity TV host and a man given to a level of rants via twitter not normally engaged in by a sitting president or even your everyday politician.

His early morning tweets have made for a massive degree of curiosity, uncertainty, and cliff-hanging by a media who must now come to terms with a Commander-in-Chief who has never donned a military uniform. He has become the butt of late night show hosts who pillory and mock him as they have certain members of his staff most especially Sean Spicer his press secretary.

He has engaged a public who wonder privately and increasingly out loud what his next tweet will be and how it will affect their lives and national safety. Will he decide to nuke North Korea or deride Arnold Schwarzenegger for not getting the same ratings as he did on his Celebrity Apprentice show, or suggest that former President Obama bugged his phones or his microwave oven in Trump Tower, New York City?

The deeper question is where does he and America go from here?

In recent days, he has made nice with Chinese President Xi Jinping patching over previous accusations that China was “raping” America economically. He sent 59 tomahawk missiles into Syria targeting the Shayrat air base near Homs in response to a chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held area that killed both women and children. He has called on other nations to oppose Syria’s embattled leader.

All this in seeming defiance of his own “America first” policy. The politics of realpolitik have caught up with him. Sometimes diplomacy, based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors comes ahead of explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises.

Will there be a wall between the United States and Mexico, and will Mexico pay for it, if it is ever built? Will there be border tax with Mexico? Some big businesses are campaigning against it. The Trump administration is apparently reworking its tax reform and a final proposal will not be known before members of Congress take their August recess.

‎When he ran for the country’s highest office he had nice things to say about Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, but that now seems to be muted following the targeting bombing of Syria. Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State must now talk tough to Putin over his Syria policy. His once cozy ties with Putin which drew bipartisan alarm and nearly derailed his confirmation has gone and now. Putin won’t meet with a man he once showered praise on. Cooperation with Russia over Syria would seem to be off the table. Damage control is now the order of the day.

The Syrian situation is not black and white, it demands nuancing as there are many players involved.

Following the attack on Syria, many commentators said that this was the moment Donald Trump truly became president of the U.S.

The world is fast changing and so it would appear is President Donald Trump.