Sunday, 29 January 2017

The ramblings of a bunged up man...

The two great parallel stories of our time – Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA – are continuing to frustrate and anger people and this is very odd. Odd in the sense that normally, when the Tories or Labour win an election or whether it's Democrat or Republican in the USA, people accept the result and get on with it. Similarly with the referendum one might have thought. The public was asked to make a decision, it made one and that's that, we all get on with it.
Donald Trump – his arm is long, his vengeance is total...

But no, not so. Ever since Brexit and then Trump's victory across the Atlantic there has been a dogged determination by those who lost to question the decisions made by 'the people'. In the UK the vote was fairly close, but nobody is prepared to accept the result and one wonders what might have happened had the referendum gone the other way. Would the people we now call Brexiteers be 'getting on with it' or would they be out protesting? Something tells me that because 'the establishment' effectively lost, they simply can't let it go, and similarly in the USA.

Now, admittedly, in the USA, the choice of Trump as president is a little concerning as here is a so-called 'populist' figure with no prior experience of holding political office in charge of the most powerful country in the world. Only days into his presidency, Mr Trump has lived up to his campaign promises about building a wall between the USA and Mexico and banning muslims from selected countries (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and others I can't remember). These two 'executive orders', signed last week, have ruffled many feathers, but what I find odd is that the general vibe is that President Trump and Brexit are the wrong decisions and that the supposed moral high ground lies with those who voted Democrat and those who voted to remain in the European Union. Surely, this is wrong. Trump won, therefore, he's the rightful occupant in the White House and the Brexiteers won the day on this side of the pond. But no, nobody is prepared to accept the results. It seems that Trump supporters and Brexiteers are 'the bad guys'.

Mexico isn't amused...
The media, of course, is having a field day. Shouldn't Theresa May be condemning Trump's decision to ban muslims? Well, no, not really. Trump's decision on who he lets in to his country is Trump's decision and it's not really for us or anybody to comment unless, of course, it has a detrimental effect on UK citizens, which I'm sure it will have.

I've spent a lot of time in an armchair today watching the Sunday morning political programmes: Andrew Marr, Andrew Neil and, of course, the BBC News channel, not forgetting Breakfast and it goes without saying that all of these programmes have focused on Trump and Brexit. Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats – who in my opinion looks remarkably like a young Ken Livingstone – is firmly in the anti-Brexit camp and wants a second referendum once the negotiations surrounding Article 50 are done and dusted. But there's talk about the EU and the Single Market as two distinct entities, although to be in latter you have to accept free movement of people, which was the Brexiteers' cornerstone argument behind leaving the EU. Immigration and 'taking back control' were the key issues whatever anybody says, and the issues are the same in the USA too, hence the current furore over Trump's latest executive order.

"Ter-raiser, I think I could get you a part in Toy Story 4..."
But one thing you have to say about Trump is that he delivers on his promises. He was banging on about the Muslims being banned and the Mexicans being shut out by a wall throughout his campaign for president and now he's in the White House he's doing what his voters want him to do. Most politicians, prior to election, say they're going to do this and that and then they don't follow through, but here's Trump, bucking that trend and actually doing what he said he'd do – building the wall and shutting out immigrants from selected countries. I'm not saying I agree, but at least he's consistent.

And when people moan about Trump and about Brexit – I moaned about Brexit, but I'm over it now – perhaps they should consider the fact that our 'establishment' politicians had a habit of simply not listening to the people they represented. The European Union was arrogant enough to assume that the Brits wouldn't vote to leave and, as a result, stuck fast to its open borders principle despite the fact that entire communities in the United Kingdom have changed beyond all recognition and people were clearly concerned about losing their cultural heritage. That whole notion of 'political correctness gone mad' played its role too. It was as if everything was being done to mollify the immigrant and bugger the indigenous people of the UK – that's how a lot of people saw it and that, ultimately, is what led to Brexit. Not being an American citizen I'm guessing that something similar happened there: people no longer had any faith in establishment politicians and big political dynasties like the Clintons who put the interests of others ahead of those of the American people.

And talking of 'political correctness gone mad', it's alive and well in case you were wondering. This morning on Breakfast they had a rabbi reviewing the morning newspapers. Nothing wrong with that, but one of the first stories she latched on to was that fact that the transgender community wants to do away with the word 'mother' or 'mothering' when it comes to children because of its association with the female and not the male. This story was something to do with the British Medical Association and even the presenters of the programme seemed to bristle at this rabbi's views. She started to go on about the word 'surname' and how it was too masculine and that we should all use the phrase 'family name' instead. It's stuff like this that angers the masses and has led to Brexit. For too many years now, the establishment has been getting away with it, but not any more, it seems. People have had enough and basically voted with their feet. They'd seen enough of Eddie Izzard in a pink beret on Question Time and Sir Bob in a boat on the Thames shouting the odds at Farage through a megaphone.

Brexit divided the UK and led to Donald Trump some say...
I can only assume that in the German elections later this year, Merkel will get her 'come uppance' and will be ousted for her decision to allow, unvetted, millions of refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East into the country. Her fate might well have been sealed after the incidents in Cologne and elsewhere on New Year's Eve 2015 when, as the media reported, there appeared to be a 'mass groping' of German women by North African men. The Germans opened their doors and look what happened; and it's stuff like this that probably stiffened Trump supporters' resolve to get their man elected. It also bolstered policies like the Mexican wall, extreme vetting of certain immigrants and so on, which are proving to be bad news and will reinforce people's dislike of the man who is now leader of the free world.

But playing the hard man at home is one thing, getting bolshy with the Chinese and the Russians and the North Koreans might prove to be tricky, and there are many people who question Trump's stance on Russia and Putin. But then Trump appears to be intent on upsetting everybody: the American people, the CIA, the muslims, the Mexicans and the international community.

I think if I was in charge of one the countries whose citizens have been banned from the USA, I'd deport all American citizens with immediate effect, invoking, perhaps, 'tit-for-tat' politics. Trump is one of those people who incites the 'fight fire with fire' attitude. But Trump is on a loser if people fight back, although he's counting on them not putting up a fight; but if you're on the receiving end of Trump xenophobia and have nothing to lose, why not?

One thing is for certain, the next four years – possibly not that long, who knows? – will be full of 'comedy gold' moments that will fuel many a satirical panel show on television for weeks to come. Will Trump go the distance? Who knows? Will he serve a second term? Who knows? I didn't expect him to win this election, let alone have a view on his chances in the next one, so it's anybody's guess. My hope is that he'll make good, he'll turn people around, get everybody on side and yes, 'make America great again'. I'd like to hope that leaving the EU will be good for the UK, but somehow, on both the American and the British situation I think it's going to end badly.

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