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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump: A Wary Embrace of America!

Across the world, everyone is wondering: Will the ‘un-American-like’ policies get voters’ acceptance?

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”, said Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President of the US (1861-65), who abolished slavery in the confederacy of the US. It was again a President from the GOP, Ronald Reagan (1981-1989), who helped the world get herself freed from the Cold War. In between, came Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), who having vigorously campaigned for McKinley’s re-election in a landslide victory and having succeeded him to the office on his assassination [McKinley] won Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to end the Russo-Japanese war.    

Now, the irony is: this Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln, which once offered the much needed support to Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act, today appears to be all set to send Donald Trump—the candidate who did not hesitate to pronounce such wild thoughts as describing Mexicans crossing the border as rapists; building a wall along the southern border, that too, with Mexican funds; banning all Muslims from visiting the US; killing the families of terrorists, hiking the US tariffs etc., etc., that sound pretty sweet to his followers—into Presidential election process of the US as its nominee. 

Of course, there are quite a few who argue that once Trump triumphs at the primaries, he is all certain to change his rhetoric. It may be possible, but the real big question is: Having travelled too far in flaring up the passions of the already unhappy voters who believe that the US economy is punishing the workers the most, via his rhetoric such as: “We are like a third world country”; “I’m greedy, now I’m going to be greedy for the United States”; “China, it doesn’t respect us”, and having made them believe “… that he can make America better …”, will he be able to change his track?

That aside, what is more disturbing is his antiquated economic ideas that are sure to make the US retreat from its known role in world affairs and particularly, free-trade—the one ideology that the US ardently preached the world all along. Indeed its ill-effects are already visible: the democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton too has changed her stance on free trade. Perhaps, believing that America’s trade deficit is more due to foul play of other nations, he proposes to impose a 45% tax on Chinese imports into the US, which obviously appeals to average American who believes that China is bleeding the US through its unfair trade practices. Similarly, his calling the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1992 as the worst trade deal in the history of the world, despite the fact that the agreement forced Mexico to lower its tariffs on US goods far more than it forced the US to reduce its tariff on Mexican goods, reveals how poorly informed he is. Indeed, Trump has been complaining against trade deals all along. Reports indicate that in 1993 itself, he vented his angst against NAFTA thus: “The Mexicans want it and that doesn’t sound good to me.”  With that being his deep-rooted economic nationalism, one may wonder, will he be able to change his convictions, once he wins the preliminaries? Probably, he won’t, at least that’s what his close followers say: “it’s not in Trump to change. He doesn’t have that kind of self-awareness”.

Coming to his foreign policy, Trump, apparently disturbed by the costs of America’s global role, avers that America is spending massive sums to protect other countries. He, therefore, asserts: “I would like to continue defending Japan; I would like to continue to defend South Korea; and I would like to defend Germany and Saudi Arabia and other countries” but “they have got to pay up.” This bizarre assertion only reveals how poorly Trump understood the multilateral obligations of the US and his ignorance about the world polity moving away from that state of Roman imperialism long, long back.

Intriguingly, Trump also proposes sweeping tax cuts: wants a higher standard deduction along with lower bands of 10%, 20% and 25%, and trim corporate tax rates, from 35% to 15%. Along with it, he also wants to have a balanced budget, which means huge cuts elsewhere, about which he is, of course, silent.  He proposes to payoff the national debt of $19 tn in eight years. At the same time, he also wants to protect Social Security. All this obviously sounds as an implausible promise!

And yet, Trump goes on with his campaign boisterously! For, he appears to be endowed with unusual talents—charismatic, though ruthless in denigrating opponents and astute in hijacking the audience with his nationalist protectionist sentiment. And it is this protectionist rhetoric of Trump—which has perhaps glided to the extreme that the US Presidential elections have ever witnessed—that is more disturbing.

What is further upsetting is: having succeeded in the primaries, Trump is sure to follow his proven path of success—most offensive and aggressive campaigns. And what if that lands him, the man whom the newspapers call “Tycoon Braggart and shallow”, in the Whitehouse? The answer is: anybody’s guess!


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