Trump is America with its mask removed
In truth, Trump represents not the idea but the reality of America, the ugly reality of a country and society with its mask removed. For what is the United States if not a brutal place where greed, arrogance and ruthlessness reigns? And what is Donald Trump if not a man whose entire life has been testament to those particular attributes?
It all seems light years away from 2008, when a young black hitherto unknown senator from Chicago, Barack Obama, was filling stadia across the country with soaring oratory, preaching hope, unity, and change to a country emerging battered and bruised from the two-term presidency of George Bush. It was a country in need of hope, desperate to be inspired and lifted out of the swamp of cynicism and callous disregard for human rights either at home or abroad. Who better qualified to do this than the nation’s first black president? Those who wanted to believe America had left behind a shameful past of slavery, Jim Crow, and inequality allowed themselves to believe that the day of Jubilee had finally arrived.
As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
Seven years on and the disappointment felt by many when it comes to Obama is impossible to deny. In fact, the gulf between the promise of his presidency and the reality has arguably been wider than it has with any other administration in recent memory. And while there have undoubtedly been objective factors that have made the challenges he faced upon entering office considerable – the worst economic recession to hit the country since the 1930s, the power and influence of vested interests in Washington, and a Republican controlled congress in his second term that made his tenure more difficult than many presidents have experienced – Obama nonetheless failed to live up to the expectations he sowed in the hearts and minds of those who believed in him, not only in America but across the world.
This being said, despite his detractors his presidency does have some notable achievements to commend it. The normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba is one, as is the negotiated settlement with Iran over its nuclear program; this despite both meeting with vigorous opposition. At home we have Obamacare – officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – which while failing to break the grip of the medical insurance industry over the country’s healthcare industry, has meant that access to healthcare for millions of Americans has become possible where before it was not.
However, these successes, when placed alongside the collapse of US prestige and influence in the Middle East, the prevailing obscenity of inequality at home, the inability to take on and defeat the gun lobby, the failure to tackle institutional racism within law enforcement, and epic fail at reforming the country’s racist criminal justice system, pale significantly.
The point is that Obama spoke the language of hope and change before entering office, neither of which materialized to any meaningful extent when he did. Aside from the foreign policy successes mentioned, he presided over the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East and the utter failure of the US, with its huge military, economic strength, and sway over regional allies, to counter it effectively. He also failed to reign in hawks within his administration, whose influence over his attitude towards Moscow gave us the crisis in Ukraine and relations between East and West that replicate those that existed during the worst years of the Cold War.
Obama’s decision to see the role of US president as anything other than CEO of a global empire in the shape of US hegemony and unipolarity, with all its economic and geopolitical consequences, will go down in history as a monumental failure of judgment, policy, and vision, especially at a time when Russia and China’s growing economic and geopolitical strength provided an opportunity for the world to enter a new chapter of cooperation and stability.
Now, in 2016, we have a field of candidates to replace him that has thrown up billionaire businessman, Donald Trump, as the most unlikely anti-establishment figure there has probably ever been. Alongside him, his fellow Republican candidates for the nomination have shrunk in stature and substance over the long weeks of the US presidential primaries, like deflated balloons. Despised by the Republican Party hierarchy, the liberal media, and a political class which he hasn’t just criticized but has savaged in speech after speech and interview after interview, Donald Trump can do no wrong in the eyes of the huge swell of people across the United States that have flocked to support him.
He is ruthless, cruel to his opponents, greedy for success and fame, and willing to do whatever it takes to win. In other words, Trump, rather than any kind of aberration, is the ideal poster child for America and the American Dream. He is the United States shorn of embroidery, finesse, and fancy packaging.
As for Obama’s presidency, it has merely lent truth to Nietzsche’s admonition that, “Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.