Why Trump is a threat to us all
The prospect of Donald Trump getting the Republican nomination for the forthcoming United States elections is about as frightening as it gets. Being half American I think I can comment as freely about their politics as I do about Britain’s or indeed anywhere else’s. I love both my countries of origin as well as the one I now live in. My comments come from the heart.
It is nearly three years since I asked a well-known US financial commentator if America was heading towards being isolationist, putting up barriers to trade, migrants and even tourists. He reacted with horror at the thought. So far he has been right. But if Trump achieves the Republican nomination my friend’s protests will fall to ashes. Trump wants to build a wall.
When we are threatened, scared of what others might be going to do to us, we retreat into our shells, hide from reality. Ostriches, they say, bury their heads in the sand to escape from what is going on around them. This is apocryphal but the image it conjures up graphically describes our handling of the unacceptable. We pretend not to see what we don’t like.
The world is scared at present. Scared of the mobility of migrants who will – or can – no longer cope with intolerable conditions at home. Scared of the increasing divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. Scared of the bankers’ inability to sustain the value of the savings and assets we have worked hard for. Scared of antibiotic-resistant bugs. Scared of global warming and its consequences. And perhaps most scared of a no-growth world.
Globalisation has pounced on us too fast. We are battling to maintain our local identity while at the same time struggling to be international. We strive to achieve individual freedom we have been promised but find we are hemmed in by regulations and automated procedures proving that one size fits none. We seek leaders but often find only rabble-rousers.
America is unusual in its ability to be self-sustaining. It does not need the rest of the world as much as the rest of the world needs it. If it shuts everyone else out it can survive – quite comfortably until a final war breaks out and the human species becomes extinct. America is also a highly successful, responsible nation which has provided the template for a high standard of living and policed the world for the last 100 years. We need the US to flourish.
We also need it to continue its policing role, to maintain its high level of creative energy and to be a major force in the world’s new economic model, whatever that will be. Siren voices will always advocate the protectionist view, just as they are in Britain in Europe right now. But the world cannot go back. It can forward the way we decide it should but it will be going on, not going back.
Fulfilling our desperate need for leadership must start with our political leaders. Good, decent women and men must step up to the challenge. They must be willing to make genuine, personal sacrifices to serve those they would lead.
Political leaders are there to show the way – to lead, not to incite and not to build walls.