Trump could be a good thing

What were you doing when Donald J Trump became the 45th President of the United States?

I was walking my dog. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it live. I just don’t know enough swear words.

Tim Farron wasn’t watching it either.

He made a video, though. And it was pretty uplifting.

I did eventually sit down and watch it much later that evening so that I could fast forward through the boring and the awful bits. I just have this feeling that I’m going to be spending the next four years watching the news from behind the sofa.

Three points from The Speech

Quite the most surprising commentary on the speech came from LBC’s Iain Dale, who was actually living it up, sometimes with Nigel Farage, in Washington DC.  He said what I thought but would have been called all sorts of names if I’d said out loud:

I thought large parts of it were a disgrace.

Large parts of it could have been delivered by Benito Mussolini. There was no soaring hope there, it was all about division.

Bear in mind that these comments come from someone who is much more right wing on everything than I and most of you reading this site are.

There was no grace or class in the speech at all. The nationalist America First rhetoric was pretty nauseating and it’s just as well that no countries are leaving a large grouping and find themselves having to negotiate a trade deal with someone with that attitude, isn’t it?

How ironic, some might say hypocritical, it was for a billionaire who is widely believed not to pay tax standing there and talking about giving power back to people when he’s filled the Cabinet with his super-rich corporate colleagues. His is the Wall Street administration and it’s about as far removed from ordinary people as it is possible to get.

And the “Washington” thing he was railing against as if it’s a bad thing – that was giving people access to healthcare, developing a massive stimulus package to avoid a humungous depression and stuff like that.

The “stuff you” method of government

If you win an election by a tiny margin, if voted you know that more people voted against you than for you, you are supposed to be a bit consensual, to try to unite a polarised nation, to reassure people that you will be there for them. You are not supposed to deliver a nationalist diatribe that basically tells everyone who didn’t vote for you to bog off.

It’s not just Trump. Theresa May’s espousal of a hard brexit in the interests of the unity of her party over the country is showing the same lack of concern for those with a different view. She has taken the most extreme path when there were much less disruptive options available and she tells those of us who voted Remain that we can like it or lump it – but whatever, we need to stop whinging about it.  This is a deeply worrying style of Government. It isn’t healthy for democracy

And that good thing?

Obviously the Trump presidency will be nothing but an unmitigated disaster. Anyone who is from any sort of marginalised community is going to suffer. Sexism, racism, homo, bi, transphobia will go unchallenged – and often perpetrated – by the country’s leaders. Someone mentioned on Facebook the other night that the scariest thing was all the people Trump had working for him, who are charged with implementing all his deeply distasteful policies, who clearly believe in what he is doing.

But there is cause for optimism. Yesterday we saw it in the marches around the world. The last few decades have seen our basic rights enhanced, with human rights being set in statute and advances in gender equality and LGBT rights. Now it looks like there could be a huge step backwards both here and across the Atlantic – not to mention the fact that we have a President who cares more about the size of his crowds than, it seems, poverty or inequality or anything else.

Perhaps this will bring people into politics for the first time, like the women a friend met on the train yesterday who were going on their first ever march. As people realise the dangers of losing hard won rights, freedoms and opportunities, economic and otherwise, they may well become motivated to do something about it and A C Grayling’s call for us to resist what our government is doing in every peaceful way possible may become a reality for many of us.

Here and in the US, it’s up to ordinary people to do extraordinary things to safeguard fundamental values of democracy and liberty that we have never had to do before if we’re under 70. A re-engagement of people with politics may well lead in time to a better, fairer politics and government.  Let’s make it happen.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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25 Comments

  • Caron. Nice projection of your parties values, open to diverse views etc. Your whole article is a rant against someone who was elected according to the rules’ of their own system and you don’t like him. Fine but show a little more class. One might think you have just demonstrated some aspects which you dislike in him, absolute certainty that you are right. Obviously his presidency will be an unmitigated disaster? I did not realise you had such powers of prescience.
    Some might say Obama was a disaster. Bill Clinton lied in office and took advantage of a female employee.
    J.F.K. had affairs and took advantage of a vulnerable women who killed herself, that man is one of the most loved and respected American presidents across the world.
    Open, inclusive, diverse,and longing to engage with people from other views?
    This from a woman who has used the term daily fail, writes on a site where Maybe and Mayhem are accepted…. What if I were to refer to your previous leader as Paddy Pantsdown….or is that discriminatory?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jan '17 - 11:24pm

    Tynan re; Caron ‘s article

    I dislike Trump , have written about him and that fact many times. I am also married to a wife of American origin, have a mother-in-law and family in the States.

    I criticised Caron’s previous comparison of protest against the Saudi regime , with doing so for Trump. I believe we must accept his election, there is , as Mrs Thatcher used to say, no alternative. Tim our party leader, in his video , said the same as I did that very day at similar times, that is the reality.

    But why does that mean we , Caron, anyone has to like Trump?! And, just as with Brexit, why does anyone not in agreement with him , have to stop saying they are not in agreement, and proclaim that to whoever might hear ?! Since when does an election victory destroy the opposition ?!

    As for your even mentioning the late , great , president Kennedy in the same comments, please, as they say in the States, give me a break ?! If , in your mention of a suicide , you are referring to the late and in her own field , as great , Marilyn Monroe’s death, you are sailing close to the wind there too, I am rowing you back if possible ! There is no one on the planet this side of daft , keener on that particular , wonderful , actress and woman than me ! Have been since six ! She did not , in my view or that of any one else who has written and researched the life and work of her, kill herself , her death was almost certainly an accident .Her relationship with President Kennedy was an ongoing friendship, and yes , they were lovers, they both did have very many ! That reflects on both as largely irrelevant .But lets not trash the superb work of a terrific president , a war hero, a Pulitzer prize winning writer, slain after less than three years in office, by comparing him with Trump !

    And as for Caron, and her supposed double standards, she is actually pretty consistently strict with her requirements for relative decency on here !

  • Lorenzo, I agree with much of what you post even if I don’t always say so, didn’t say anyone needs to like Trump, but perhaps obviously he is going to be a disaster, is less than a liberal attitude.
    As for J.K. and Bill my point is that there have been people in power who have bot shown the respect that people night expect towards their partners, but somehow it is less talked about with some than others. I agree J.K. was a good president he was also adulterous. You are right in that suicide was not the official cause of death so I will withdraw that and simply say that he took advantage of a woman that was in a pattern of self destructive behaviour. If one was president and one’s lover committed suicide it is possible that that night not be the official cause of death. J.K. was a good president, in my opinion Bobby could have been a great one. If we are truly open and tolerant surely Trump deserves some time?

  • “The last few decades have seen our basic rights enhanced, with human rights being set in statute and advances in gender equality and LGBT rights. Now it looks like there could be a huge step backwards both here and across the Atlantic”

    Why does it look like a backward step in the UK? Mrs May was the Home Secretary responsible for getting gay marriage through, I doubt she’s suddenly going to start attacking LGBT rights. Next week the Pro-Life campaign expect to have 500,000 supporters marching through Washington. If they tried that in the UK they would be lucky to get 1,000 – we are not Americans and Mrs May isn’t Donald Trump.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Jan '17 - 12:24am

    Tynan

    I was surprised at your tone only because I often too see you being sensible ! Thank you for your measured reply. I suppose it is that which I yearn for. If you think someone in an article is overblown, best to challenge it with Liberal understanding and Liberal common sense !

    JFK was very flawed. I think, after much thought on it , he was indeed affected by the prescription medication he was on for real and ongoing pain caused by war injuries and addisons disease. His speeches, his voice , his delivery , are remarkable even now , they can make one feel something. His achievements in a very brief period, were real too. Anyone doubts it, go to Wikipedia and look up New Frontier, quite marvellous how much good he did in setting the scene for progress.

    As for Marilyn, oh…my……………

  • Well I was trying to be provocative, maybe too much, I shall think on that.
    Marilyn could have done so much more,
    Likewise J.F.K.
    More power to you Lorenzo, logging off need to catch 7:30 train, this site might get me sacked one day!

  • I suspect that one of the greatest challenges of the next few years will be the ways in which we use dramatic language in the face of democratically sanctioned illiberalism. As a preacher (only once a month these days!) I have always been conscious of the balance between getting people to think new thoughts and losing the congregation completely. While we may have to use words like bully, dictator, neofascist etc. we can choose how to use them to greatest effect. And then we have to relate the words to other forms of communication – symbolic actions, how we live our lives, who we demonstrate with and how. A challenge for those of us who have been battle hardened by many decades of slaving away at the political coal face will be how we listen to and cherish those people who do find themselves drawn into political activity for the first time. Politics is one of the most civilised contexts for human interaction – but be careful how you say that!

  • David wilkinson 23rd Jan '17 - 8:59am

    Love the survey, Tim , nearly as good as ours in Westhoughton.You can’t be beat a crisp night in January for getting out.

  • I don’t think Trump will be as hostile the LGBT community as this article suggests. He’s not from the religious Right of the GOP.

  • Nick Cunningham 23rd Jan '17 - 10:40am

    Flaws in the human character shouldn’t bar one from office, because we all have them. In Trump’s case his words and policy should be of great concern, because they bring with them injustices, intolerance and division and he revels in the fact.

  • Matt (Bristol) 23rd Jan '17 - 11:43am

    One of my worries about Trump is that his election may – rather than providing a cause for it – kill constitutional reform in the States.

    His association of himself with proposals for term limits for senators and members of the House or Representative (presumably as a way of depicting himself as ‘against elites’) – which I very much suspect he will discard in office – could tarnish by reputation those who seek to further the same proposals, which are not in themselves unreasonable.

    Also if he is seen as a loose cannon and impeached (or similar) for any of several potential areas of controversy / misconduct, and a coalition builds against him among both Democrats and Republicans, meaningful reform in other areas (eg voting) could be ditched in order to build consensus and get him out by horse-trading and backroom deals. Those who seek to unseat him will need every vote. They won’t want additional ‘barnacles on the boat’ to borrow a phrase from a certain australian.

    But if I were an American, which I’m assuredly not, I’d be pushing for reasonable term limits (12 years for both houses, with an enforced six year hiatus before re-election?), AV voting for single elected officials including state governors, and proportional distribution of the presidential electoral college in every state.

    Trump has been elected, as fairly as was possible under the cirumstances. That confers some respect for the office he holds, although not automatic international deference to the man himself.

    Yet if he is looking for a mandate to preach hard nationalism to his nation and the world (and, arguably, left the door open to forms of white nationalism) as he has done in his inauguration speech, thereby radically altering the direction of a major world power – one feels a more consensual, plural electoral process would be a greater guarantor of legitimacy.

  • Robert Stallard 23rd Jan '17 - 12:12pm

    My word, people do get into a tizz, don’t they?
    Spending the next four years watching from behind the sofa? Really?

    As Tynan has pointed out, Donald Trump was elected as President of a foreign country according to the rules of that country, yet to hear some, one would think he seized power through a military coup or something.

    The truth is that politics, whether domestic or in the wider sphere, is a swinging pendulum. All that is happening with the results of the American election, the Brexit referendum, the increasing popularity of Marine LePen and Geert Wilders on the continent and so on, is that pendulum swinging back.

    Remember that others will have felt exactly as you do when, for example, Obama was elected and when the UK joined the political union that is the EU. The difference is that they didn’t shout and bawl, promise on Twitter to kill themselves or leave the country (promises I don’t think very many have kept!), attend attention-seeking marches or riot and damage property.

    As grown-ups, they accepted that they lost that time and waited quietly and patiently until the next opportunity to vote came along, as it always does.

  • Trump has already shown that he is at best indifferent to LGBT rights, by taking down the LGBT page on the Presidency website.
    He is not himself from the religious Right, although he many of them in his Cabinet. However, his moral attitudes are just as troubling as those of the religious Right. Some commentators mistake his unbridled sexual appetite as evidence of a liberal sexual attitude. But liberal sexual morals involve respect of the other’s wishes, and Trump has no concept of this. Trump combines relaxed sexual attitudes with a complete lack of understanding of the harm caused by unwanted sexual advances. This licentious attitude is common in the hyper-masculist PUA and MRA world, and in a milder form has pervaded the culture of lads mags and college campuses, and popular culture generally. It’s essentially what allowed the likes of Savile to operate with impunity.

    Neither the religious right nor the sexual licentialists take sexual assault seriously. Religious moralists tend to think that victims of sexual assault brought it upon themselves, and must have been in some way complicit in the sexual sin that was committed. Trump and his ilk think they are entitled to do what they want, and that their victims are just being uptight and they enjoy it really. Anyone who thinks this is about being “liberal” has forgotten that the point of liberty is that it mustn’t interfere with anyone else’s liberty. So sexual freedom means not only the freedom of consenting adults to engage in any activity they wish in private, it also means a person’s freedom to say “No” to sexual activity that they don’t want.

  • Oh dear still more of this.

    Trump doesn’t “hate” women, ethnic minorities, the disabled or LGBT people. It looks more like he actually has some very narcissistic personality traits, he appears to only judge people on their opinion of himself.

    This was the tactic used against him during the election and how did that turn out? Claims that he holds these prejudices don’t do anything to strengthen the opposition to him, they probably make it weaker.

    His narcissistic personality traits in someone holding his position are very dangerous, especially when combined with his terrible policy ideas he has all the makings of a disaster for the US and the rest of the world. It would be sensible for the opposition to him to stop the pointless name calling and start deploying tactics that stand a chance of working.

  • I was deluded. I was guilty of thinking that the Trump appealing to his core vote on the campaign trail would mature into a more statesmanlike figure when he won the Republican nomination. Then I thought it would happen when he won the Presidency. Then I thought it would happen once he was inaugurated. I was wrong every time.

    The man who said he would “drain the swamp” and govern for all Americans has contrived to actually appoint more billionaires than black people to his cabinet. The President’s own spokespeople, when challenged about actually lies, now refer to “alternative facts”. His Press Officer, rather than briefing the press, seems intent on undermining it and hence it’s ability to hold the President to account.

    Now Theresa May will despatch some poor sods off to Washington, openly wearing their desperation on their sleeves, to do a “trade deal” with the man who is an avowed protectionist and has sworn to “Put America first” and “buy American, hire American”.

    I feel really quite depressed.

  • Trump hates people.

    He hates reason, evidence and learning.

    He is the enemy of humanity, not just any particular group. To try and distinguish particular groups as being special in relation to his conduct threatens to undermine the solidarity with which humanity must resist him.

  • Robert Stallard 23rd Jan '17 - 2:16pm

    “Now Theresa May will despatch some poor sods off to Washington, openly wearing their desperation on their sleeves, to do a “trade deal” with the man who is an avowed protectionist and has sworn to “Put America first” and “buy American, hire American”

    Don’t worry about Theresa May, or her lackeys – they’re a sideline. In his dealings with the UK, the President will be working directly with his close advisor Nigel Farage who, as an MEP, will also be the President’s closest and most direct link to the European Union.

  • Alex Macfie

    “he is at best indifferent to LGBT rights, by taking down the LGBT page on the Presidency website”

    Don’t believe everything you read in the papers, the Whitehouse policy sections are archived at the end of an administration and it takes time for a new administration to get it fully populated. I doubt Trump will be amazing on LGBT rights but that is not evidenced by an administrative procedure occurring.

    “This licentious attitude is common in the hyper-masculist PUA and MRA world and in a milder form has pervaded the culture of (…) college campuses”
    PUAs – the socially awkward group with a few figures who appear to be complete fantasists?
    MRAs – the dull repetitive group droning on about the same points over and over.
    I’m not sure how either of these things could be called hyper anything, and if it is your impression of masculinity I think you have an odd perspective.
    I’m just going to assume you have never been to a university from the above observation.

    “It’s essentially what allowed the likes of Savile to operate with impunity.”
    Seriously? Just think about that, slowly and carefully then think if you really want to go there.

    Your generalisations about the religious speak for themselves.

    It would be nice of those who want the right to loose could actually address the right in a way that could be taken seriously, or we are going to be stuck with the right in control for decades.

  • Donald Trump will not release his tax returns even after repeated promises to do so following a supposed audit, one of his senior advisers said on Sunday – confirming that the president will break a 40-year tradition and not show Americans the extent of his financial interests and obligations.

    I’m sure they would show that, just like ‘his crowds’, they are a lot less than they should be…

  • expats

    “Donald Trump will not release his tax returns even after repeated promises to do so”

    Which is a far more important matter than some of the stuff people were reporting over the weekend. Opponents and the media should be repeatedly setting out why this is do important to the US voters. Serious matters well explained (even if they are initially dull) is the way for Trumps opposition to claw themselves back.

  • ‘Allo ‘Allo
    While we are on the subject of rightists does anyone have the recipe for Chicken Vichy?
    It would be a good addition to the menus of French restaurants over the Chinese New Year.

  • Alex Macfie 23rd Jan '17 - 5:57pm

    Psi: I was not commenting on all religious people, just the fundamentalist religious right. I think it’s fair to say they don’t take sexual consent seriously, which is why they tolerate the likes of Josh Duggar (look him up if you don’t know who he is). His behaviour tends to be seen as merely a “sin”, rather than a crime against individuals.

    On PUAs and MRAs, I am referring to the leaders in the movement, who rate women out of 10 and write guidebooks on things like how to “turn her No into a Yes”. You may call them fantasists, but they and their followers take these toxic ideas seriously.

    On Savile, I stand by what I wrote; I do not of course mean that anyone made any conscious decision to look the other way, but instead that like the PUA sub-culture, it is a consequence of relaxed moral attitudes combined with a culture of failure to take allegations of sexual assault seriously.

    And yes I have been to university and I do know what I’m referring to. Just google for “campus rape culture”.

  • Alex Macfie
    Lots to unpack there.
    “just the fundamentalist religious right”
    So who are these people, you have picked an example of one. How big is this demographic (if it is tiny how do they impact culture or society)? How do you know what is the common view? What qualified someone as “fundamentalist” in your mind?
    “His behaviour tends to be seen as merely a “sin”, rather than a crime against individuals”
    Well “merely,” If we are talking “fundamentalist” here, we presumably are talking about the people that think sin gets you burning in hell fire for eternity, not sure “merely” is a word I would associate in those circumstances. But what makes you think these people didn’t regard this as a crime? DO you think if it was someone else committing these acts against their other children they would not have reported it to the police? Or is it perhaps they were concerned about protecting one of their children and thought they could “cure” him and therefore protect the rest of their children?
    There is a massive extrapolation here.

    “And yes I have been to university and I do know what I’m referring to. Just google for “campus rape culture”.”
    If you consider university campuses to be “hyper-masculine” I think the term has no value whatsoever. What you term “campus rape culture” others term “campus rape culture hysteria” and bears certain common traits to “satanic ritual abuse hysteria” from the early 80’s. If you want single extreme examples here is one:
    http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/25145/

  • Alex
    “On PUAs and MRAs, I am referring to the leaders in the movement”

    Oh dear, I’m not sure if you think guilt by association often works for you in discussion but I’m not a fan. So we can run with your claim. Looking up the “Leaders” (as much as there are these things) of the MRAs:
    Erin Pizzey;
    Warren Farrell;
    Paul Elam;
    Karen Straughan.
    I googled these four and found no matches to the topics you mentioned. Elam appears to spend far too much time writing unfunny satire but it all seems rather risk averse stuff that would put young men off interacting with women rather than anything you suggest. I don’t see how these individuals could be described as “hyper-masculine?”

    And to the PUAs
    If we return to a more realistic position when we actually separate out PUAs (as you appear very averse to doing). There appear to be a few “Leaders” as you put them who are quite objectionable, most of them do have the whiff of a fantasist about them. I did read (can’t now find the link now) one person who suffered through reading some of this stuff and set out how on balance given the accounts and verifiable information and how reality works that the accounts given are probably fictional.
    If we put aside the packaging of apparent fiction as “advice” this is basically an offshoot (probably highly ineffective one) of the “dating coaching industry” which I can’t work out if you have an issue with. I personally don’t, I have a relative who works in the part of this industry that caters to the 50+ age bracket and she appears to provide a valued service.
    Given the target market of the PUA “Leaders” as you describe them is likely to be young men lacking in confidence and/or social capabilities I can’t see this demographic as being “hyper-masculine.” What looks like a far more likely cause of this sub-culture is boys being inadequately prepared for social interactions growing up to look for answers and (I assume temporarily) tryig out a sub-culture which I can’t see being very effective for what they are looking for and presumably moving on.
    I’ll probably have to come back to Savile, as these will probably trigger flood prevention.

  • Alex Macfie

    So to Savile, I tend to think it best to leave the really disturbing cases alone when citing examples it shouldn’t require an explanation.
    “This licentious attitude is common in the hyper-masculist PUA and MRA world, and in a milder form has pervaded the culture of lads mags and college campuses, and popular culture generally. It’s essentially what allowed the likes of Savile to operate with impunity.”
    Savile committed his crimes in a number of places including girls schools, Childrens wards in hospitals and at the BBC. The BBC chose to go easy on Savile and it was the BBC who chose to “cover up” the Savile situation when they started identifying his actions, this was the BBC in December 2011.
    If your suggestion is that Girls schools, Specialist Childrens facilities in Hospitals and the BBC (right up to Dec ‘11) are “hyper-masculine,” again I can’t see this term having any value (the first two being environments dominated and run by women for decades, at least).
    A more likely scenario is that in the past when understanding of what should be in place from a safeguarding point of view, a manipulative individual was able to bamboozle those charged with protecting the venerable. It is not a lack of disgust at paedophilia or rape that allows it to happen. (just think of the Paedo hysteria around the turn of the millennium so well sent up by Chris Morris).
    Addressing serious problems actually requires a proper understanding of the underlying cause. The modern trend of inventing “cultures” caused by tiny minorities as the cause, when it is simply ordinary failings with mundane solutions, doesn’t help anything.

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