The inauguration aftermath
The now inaugurated President Donald J. Trump is now in office, who would’ve thought this day would come? Often such an idea was said as a punch line of a joke (which is American democracy if Russia can easily tamper with it), with one of the early episodes of The Simpsons actually having predicted this unimaginable event. Most people saw that as some amazing foresight of the show creators but in President Trump’s earlier days, shortly after his first divorce, he had already considered running for office. A notion, still very much like today, considered a joke by the mass media.
His election as President, due to the perception of the US as a world leader, was an event even in here in England. Where I live, in the great city of London, the inauguration was the talk of the town. With many Americans living here, there were a few offshore republicans celebrating the event. Here and there leftist Britons around the city denounced the new President. Even outside the US this was, at heart, an important event to many and to the majority a nightmare they’ve been preparing for.
The night of the inauguration I met up with a couple of people in a pub in Clapton called: The Bedford. Places like this are as British as it gets, a classic UK pub, with the sound of 70’s music featuring classic Queen songs in the background. In a setting like that, American politics should be an easy thing to get away from, but even with all the emanating British-ness of the pub the buzz around the inauguration was still louder than Freddie Mercury yelling “Radio ga-ga, radio gu-gu”
Around the drinking table that night, there were seven of us who all had an opinion on the matter; we just couldn’t get off the topic of the Presidency. They asked a very important question, even amidst all the usual complaints about President Trump, how does a man like him, a kind of man that defies progressive beliefs- in an increasingly progressive world (just look at all the buzz surrounding the Women’s March), get elected into office?
The question has a simple answer: America tried to be progressive and even with the economy improving, just see the statistics on unemployment rates. At the start of the Obama administration in 2008 the rate was above 9% and nearing the end of his administration it is now down to 4.7%- a significant drop, but its just not fast enough for a lot of people.
Trump’s campaign focused on exactly that, a very different approach to Obama’s past two campaigns, whereas former President Obama (typing that was certainly hard) focused a lot on social mobility, which became the basis of his image, like gay rights, free healthcare etc. President Trump focused on, what is now dubbed as, ‘the forgotten Americans’. These are the middle class Americans, a narrowing class due to certain industry sectors disappearing. International labour outsourcing is not the only reason why the job market is shrinking; other factors such as, automated manufacturing is to blame for a large part of it as well. Trump, in his campaign and inauguration, focused on delivering promises to middle class Americans who probably felt like their voices were not heard by the last administration, with Obama focusing so much on social minorities and again mobility.
A number of middle class Americans, as I’m sure they also want equality for all, could not relate to all the problems the LGBT community or immigrants might have been facing. To put it bluntly, its almost as if a Dad didn’t distribute his attention equally to all his children. Obama tried to focus too much on equalising and dealing with problems progressives have with America all at the same time, that he forgot to directly speak to the rightly dubbed forgotten Americans. Throughout the Obama administration there was never much action to redistribute the wealth of the country from the top 1%, where 95% of income gains go to which Obama has even gone to admit in a CNN interview back in September of 2013. This gave Donald Trump a real talking point during his run-up to Presidency.
Middle class America, at least some people in that segment, have become so desperate to have a voice, to have some influence in the room that they’ve had to resort to voting in this bigoted, vacuous mass that belongs in a fruit basket into office. Convinced that he will help give them opportunities again in the land of the free.
But will he? If that’s his objective for the next four years or however long his administration lasts. He’s not off to a good start with a conflict of interest between his business and the country. In the words of the new President: “In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly. There’s never been a case like this,” he told New York Times. What that tells me is that this President can’t yet make sacrifices for the people that he cannot yet put the people’s interests above his business goals.