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Trump's bullying arrogance
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 27 - 09 - 2016

What a super weird phenomenon — that out of control bully Republican Party presidential elections candidate Donald J. Trump. The more he lies, the more he is believed by his public which glorifies under-education. And the greater the manifestations of his shallowness in all matters, domestic or foreign, the louder he shouts “Make America Great Again”.
Trump has positions on every issue. But what he adopts today, he changes tomorrow. When called on such flip-flops, he assures his audiences that the reporting is to blame. Or he hires voices, civil and military, to explain the absence of coherence. They call such hired guns “surrogates”, a surrogate being a substitute or deputy and originally referring to the granter of a marriage license. But the surrogates are subject to unpredictable firing. So the surrogates, when boxed in by a media question, have found a firewall. They respond by saying “ask him”, meaning Trump.
Donald Trump's vocabulary rotates. His verbiage gravitates towards a non-changing vocabulary. The words disaster, terrible, stupid, crooked, dishonest, liar, hell, trust me, sit down, get him out, phony, and loser, gush constantly from his mouth. This is with lips pierced forward, hands gesturing and a face dripping with bullying arrogance.
Trump's journey of 16 months in US presidential politics has proved disastrous for the world's only superpower, the United States. Like a raging bull charging in all directions, Trump has gored both the union and the concept of the state. A practiced con man for two decades as a real estate tycoon turned entertainer, he has sensed an opening for coveting the White House. To Trump, governing and deal-making have the same modus operandi. So he proclaims to rapturous applause that “nobody can make deals like Trump”.
But America has a complex system of government, with many authorities from a municipal water authority to the state legislature in every one of the 50 states. There is a federal government with limited and powers, and there are delicate checks and balances prescribed in the constitution. Because of the electoral system, voting for a particular candidate does not automatically elect that candidate president. There is an electoral college in the US, changing demographics, varying state rules for validating the right to vote, and a competition limited largely to the Democratic and Republican Parties.
There is a durable constitution that has survived unscathed for 240 years, defined yet overlapping jurisdictions for the three branches of government, Congress, the executive, and the judiciary. But the definition of a “person” in the US has also now been enlarged by a Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United to consider money as also being endowed with a voice. Thus, donations to candidates for office are regarded, by that unhappy decision, as variants of freedom of expression. On top of all of that, the second amendment to the constitution grants everyone the right to bear arms.
But America's governance is not akin to a Trump deal for running a casino or building a Trump Tower, even if Trump does not see it that way. For him, “Make America Great Again” is like another project where success depends on being a super-tough negotiator ready to bamboozle the other side by either staring them down, walking out of the room, or offering enticements which may not be kept.
This Trumpism has created a cancerous lack of trust in the average citizen in how America is run. This is an issue which I predict, whether Trump wins or loses the election, will contaminate faith in America's institutions. The bond of trust between the government and the governed has been impaired. The instinctive faith in America's exceptionalism, equality before the law, and generational advancement towards a continuum of improvement are fading.
Born to wealth, Trump has been a life-long practitioner of using others as tools. His upbringing did not lead him to feel the pain of the downtrodden. His real-estate dealings, largely dependent on gaming the systems of taxation and finance, are not conductive to giving, but instead to taking under the guise of giving. His opportunities for military service, community service, or volunteering for involvement with society for uplifting purposes were either avoided or evaded and not thought of as worthy of his time.
Trump has come to ride a wave of American unease about globalisation, immigration, job-outsourcing, and the shrinkage of the white demographic. By 2030, whites in the US will be some 45 per cent of the population. Having a black president in the White House forced the racial issue to the surface. But if a black man can be president, “so can I,” says Trump, a wealthy deal-maker.

Trump's rhetoric:“I alone can fix it” is a Trump campaign slogan. It is not conducive to learning from the experts and downgrades experience in favour of “gut feeling”.
Politicians in Congress, practicing the art of political longevity, have given a bad name to the words “politician,” “political correctness,” “the ways of Washington,” and “business as usual,” according to Trump. A circular argument runs that “if I am not doing well, the government is responsible.” Shrinking government, while despising it, has become the lifeblood of the Trump corpus of non-ideas of combative conservatism.
Topping all this is the fear of jihadism, which has splintered causing conventional ways of defence and offense to become irrelevant. One single terrorist act anywhere stokes fires of rage, helplessness, and the need for brutalising responses from America.
For month after month, Trump has been at it, goring the American system to satisfy his political circus, a circus which he has found to respond to his need for self-adoration. From here has arisen the populist call for change, any change. Trump's disconnected thoughts have been broadcast constantly. Had Trump been forced to pay for that free publicity, the cost would have been some $2 billion.
The truth of the matter is that there is no end to the range of Trumpist rage. He strikes in every direction. Here are some selections limited to the executive described by Trump's wayward movement as rigged and broken.
About US president Barack Obama as a citizen, Trump says he is “illegitimate” because he was probably born outside the US. Trump has thus acknowledged himself to be the profane author of the “Birther Movement” in the US that focuses on Obama's birthplace in spite of Trump's recent admission to the contrary as the price for gaining African-American support.
About Obama's professional credentials, Trump claims that Obama's education at Harvard may be “untrue”. About Obama's record as president, he says it has been “weak,” “the worst president in the history of America.” About Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, he says that “if elected to the presidency, she will be the continuation of the disastrous Obama years.”
On Hillary's fitness for the Oval Office, he says “she has poor judgement,” is “influenced by donations of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation,” is “a liar,” and “exposed our national security to danger through her emails on a personal server.” For Trump, it is always “crooked Hillary”. On Hillary's advisors, he says “she brought in Huma Abidin, possibly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, to guide her decision-making.”
On Islamic State (IS), he says that “Obama and Hillary founded IS.” On Secretary of State John Kerry, he claims he would make better deals. “Kerry left the negotiations room where the Iran nuclear deal was being negotiated to ride a bicycle,” he says, a characterisation by someone with zero experience in foreign affairs.
On foreign affairs, he asks “wouldn't it be nice to bring Russia in with us to fight IS?” “[President Vladimir] Putin of Russia is a better president than Obama. He is strong; our president is indecisive,” he says, adding “I'll nullify the Iran nuclear deal on day one of my presidency.”
On military matters, he says he would replace the present generals by “my own generals”. “I'll make our military so strong that nobody would dare mess with us.” “Why do we have nuclear arms if we don't use them,” he asks, adding that “NATO is obsolete.”
On terrorism, Trump arrogantly claims to know more about IS “than the generals”. He claims to have a secret plan to deal with IS, yet he is a charlatan who has avoided any form of military service, or for that matter any national service.
Trump projects a “tough guy” image without the benefit of the facts. His blatant racism regarding Blacks, Muslims, and Latinos has gone on for a year and a half unchecked. Journalist Nicholas Kristof in a column in the New York Times summed up Trumpism on 8 September.
“Whether in his youth, in his business career or in his personal life, Trump's story is that of a shallow egoist who uses those around him,” Kristof wrote. “He made a mess of his personal life and has been repeatedly accused of racism, of cheating people, of lying, of stiffing charities.”
“His life is a vacuum of principle, and he never seems to have stood up for anything larger than himself.” “Over seven decades, there's one continuing theme to his life story: this is a narcissist who has no core. The lights are on, but no one's home.”

Takeover:The Republican Party, the party of 19th-century president Abraham Lincoln, has largely been hijacked by Donald Trump. What remains has been badly splintered. These elections for US president are undoubtedly the most important in our lifetimes.
Those in America who feel either angry, left behind, or disadvantaged are flocking to the banner of Trumpism. If elected to the Oval Office, the consequences for America and the world cannot be predicted, but trust between citizens in the US and their government is shaken to the roots. “The system must be changed” has been a Trump line. “Trust me,” Trump keeps on repeating, though his history is a tattered record of lying and cheating.
Serious damage has also been visited upon the quality of political discourse in the US. Expletives have been liberally used. Incitement to violence by Trump against his detractors has become commonplace. We now have a debased language, expressing non-facts, propagated through Trump's rallies and proclaiming the end of the American system of governance. These are in favour of “America First” dressed up in racist vestments and brandishing the fear that “soon we shall have no country.”
In all certainty, Trump will benefit. If he loses, as I pray he will, Trump will relaunch his biggest “reality show” yet, blaming the loss on conspiracies. And if he wins, the consequences cannot be anything but ominous.
Here are the reasons for this assessment: Trump's lying about his contacts with Russia for personal gain; his appearance on Kremlin TV to denigrate Obama and American foreign policy; his threat to nullify American defence commitments and trade agreements; his boasting about readiness to use nuclear arms against European allies; and his insane claim to single-handedly “Make America Great Again.”
Furthermore, he has called for packing the US Supreme Court with judges who will tilt that institution further to the right; mocked the disabled and falsely claimed to have seen Muslims celebrating in New Jersey the criminal destruction of the World Trade Centre on 9/11; denigrated women for their menstrual periods; attacked the media for fact-checking and for calling him out on his barrage of lies; tweeted obscenities and been convulsively rattled for getting opposing tweets in return; and fabricated his health record by claiming that he is the healthiest person who has ever run for office in the US.
He has insinuated that those with guns might remove Hillary from the scene in the US; thought that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi should have stayed in place to fight terrorism; continuously called for an American grab of Arab oil fields by force of arms; called for punishing women for seeking abortions; declared as a policy priority the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in the US; called for arming Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea with nuclear weapons; advocated the legality of water boarding as a means of extracting confessions from terrorist suspects; and insisted on calling criminal jihadists “Islamic terrorists,” though they, by their crimes, have opted out of Islam.
He has kept on insinuating that Obama is “a closet Muslim,” which is patently a lie. Islam is a faith, not a disease. What drips from Trump's mouth in regard to Islam is what IS loves to exploit. It was a Muslim immigrant to the US, Khizr Khan, who had lost his son, a US army officer killed in a battle in Iraq, who publicly impugned Trump's credentials as a patriot. On national TV in the US, he challenged him on two main fronts: his knowledge deficit regarding the constitution and his moral deficit regarding sacrificing for the country.
Holding aloft a copy of the constitution, Khan asked “have you even read the constitution?” Then he slammed down on Trump's narcissism, asking “have you ever sacrificed anything or anyone?”
Trump's retort manifested his ignorance of the meaning of sacrifice as he responded by parading his record as a builder. Khan meant nation-building. Trump, being alien to community giving, thought of hiring labour to construct “Trump Towers” as sacrifice for the nation. Khan had lost his son in the war on Iraq. Trump's sons from three marriages stand safe in shiny suits, ready to inherit his gains.
Trump is still adamantly refusing to divulge his tax returns, raising suspicions about whether he has even paid taxes since 2008. Trump's so-called charitable foundation is a means of enriching his “deplorable” self, causing the New York attorney-general to begin investigating it. The case against “Trump University” is going forward regardless of Trump's racist attacks on the federal judge who presides over it and calling that judge biased because of “his Mexican ancestry”.
Trump received in The Hague recently a dishonourable mention on the world stage. It was issued by none other than UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al-Hussein of Jordan. He slammed Trump as among the politicians who “peddle fear to exploit economic hardship and social tension.” Another negative assessment of Trump was voiced in emails by US general Colin Powell. Without mincing his words, Powell described Trump as “a national disgrace and an international pariah.”
In the same vein, the US Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) responded to Trump's racism. Honouring in Washington both Obama and Hillary Clinton on 17 September, a CBC spokesmen let loose on Trump and called him “a racist,” “a bigot,” and a “fraud.” It was payback time for Trump's constant humiliation of America's first black president.
At a ceremony telecast on CNN, Obama urged black voters to give him a befitting send-off. “Vote for the continuation of my legacy,” he urged his audience, asking them to vote for Hillary. The symbiotic relationship between Trump and the extreme right would undoubtedly destroy the Obama legacy were Trump to become president.
The call for American “national action now” (Obama's words at the farewell ceremony) reverberated south of the border and north of the border. In Mexico, Trump's call for a wall along the border has been met with derision. In his characterisation of the Mexicans as “rapists” and “drug dealers,” Trump has advocated an ideology of hate “of the other.”
The Trump wall “should be paid for by Mexico,” he has hallucinated publicly. Proud Mexicans poured on their president torrents of criticism for inviting Trump to Mexico City, combining the attacks with laughter as they called on Trump to “come and get it.”
In Toronto in August, I raised the question of what Canada would do if Trump occupied the Oval Office. The confident answer was that Canada would welcome American immigrants to help Canada keep on building.
Calling Trump unfit for the US presidency is an understatement. He poses a clear and present danger to America and the world; he might ignite either endless wars or a civil war in the US; and he might make America not “great again,” but ruled by a gun-toting mobocracy.
Jennifer Granholm, a former governor of Michigan, has said that “Trump is a con man. He is completely unacceptable. He is trying now to con America into believing that he can be president.”
The writer is a professor of law at New York University.


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