Donald Trump is, without a doubt, the most populist president to have ever been elected in the United States. President Trump used the excessive pragmatism and populism of a seasoned businessman throughout his campaign, and it can be seen in every step of his presidential campaign. Besides, the President Campaign slogan promised to “make America great again” to the American people. President Trump, on the other hand, proposed ideas that ran counter to the fundamental principles of American democracy that made the country great in the first place, such as racial segregation and discriminatory remarks directed at women and Muslims. With his campaign focusing on sheer populism that was intended to exploit ideas that are acceptable and covering everything that the uneducated, as well as low-qualified Americans, believe in, President Trump received utmost support from a majority of blue-collar Americans as well as those without higher education. President Trump, being an experienced businessman but claiming to be a simple person living next door, made claims about immigrants, Muslims, and women, hence the immense support among, particularly the uneducated and blue collar Americans. However, despite promising the Americans of all classes and backgrounds of a great America and giving them hope of changing their life for better if elected as President, the first few months of his Presidency has been blurred with policies and executive orders that have been considered controversial by most Americans as the policies seem to boost the already rich.
In the course of the presidential campaign period, there were uncertainties regarding the operations of the government should Trump become the elected President of the United States. During the campaign, President Trump’s specific foreign policy proposals are especially vague as he had displayed a willingness to change his perceptions, and there were concerns regarding the strategies to be used by his team as well as the governing style to be applied once he takes over. The uncertainties were feared to have severe costs for international relations would they be allowed to spread. Besides, it remains the fact that the United States is usually a major determinant for third parties regardless of whether the country is in the negotiations or not, particularly in the context of hostile negotiations and conflict. Now the Trump is the President of the United States, the uncertainties and the fear of the future had become real. Since Trump’s Presidency seems to have removed the benchmark reference of its operations to the public, everyone seems to be blindly flying, or else using instruments that no one is sure if they are properly calibrated.
President Trump has been considered by political analysts to appeal to the center as compared to the conservative populists to be seen in America in the last half-century. In that light, many of the white-class working electorate, who were once referred to as Reagan Democrats had found a candidate to represent their ideas and values in a more consistent manner. Trump was noted to appeal to the opinions of the white-working class voters as opposed to conservative populists such as Pat Buchanan (the Old Right paleo-conservative), Dixiecrat George, and Pat Robertson (the “theo-conservative”), all who stumbled in their bids for the highest seat in the world. Trump’s style in the campaign can be equated to what was used by the best-known populists Governor Wallace (Alabama) and Buchanan who went for the presidential seat. Those past figures showed no broad enough appeal to likely win the White House. Among the major issues that caught the attention of Trump’s supporters during the campaign was his speech in a kind of code that always started with his “birther” campaign against the former President Obama. It remains evident that most of the white-working class voters and conservatives were fed up with Obama’s administration, hence were willing to try out new options. The other major boost to Trump’s campaign is his criticism of illegal immigrants who were (are) believed to be causing unnecessary competition i.e. for jobs with the Americans. Nonetheless, the proposed ban on Muslims really appealed to fulfill the opinions of as well as excite white nationalists despite it offending most Latinos.
Also, Trump’s surprising success can best be explained by because the constitution he has mobilized and vowed to protect has been there for decades, but Americans never found the right champion to uphold it. Trump’s campaign fully utilized populism that cut across party lines, just like few populists who preceded him. Trump received massive support from voters through his indifference to the issue of sexual orientation that intensifies the declining religious right, as it went to the point of defending Planned Parenthood. Other aspects to be linked to massive support of the populist President was combining the positions that are shared by many populists even though they are detested by the movement conservatives. Such positions include a guarantee of universal health care, a defense of Social Security, as well as policies of economic nationalist trade. With the move, the Trump elaborated in his campaign that they have expanded the Republican Party; hence it could accommodate such positions.
Other populist presidential aspirants who preceded Trump i.e. Buchanan, held similar populist themes of restriction immigration and support of economic nationalism. Conservative populists show consistency in some positions. Similar to the views and opinions of the New Deal Democrats before them, the populists favor universal benefits where the middle class is eligible, for instance, Medicare and Medicare Part D, Social Security, as well being against welfare programs i.e. ACA and Medicaid, both which feature means tests rendering the middle and working class ineligible. However, the mainstream conservative movement always has inconsistency hence bringing together left-inspired crusaders who push for global democratic revolution abroad but show little home state libertarianism.
International Relations under Trump’s Presidency
US President Trump is seen to embrace a toxic form of messianic nationalism that is based on demeaning those who are against him, terming them as dishonest and corrupt enemies. The chant by the President about the “American First” policy is increasingly creating serious international tension. Such tension is considered to promote extremist both within and outside America (Sponeck, Halliday, and Falk). Consequently, the homeland security is undermined, even though the President has insistently sworn to enhance.
Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants
. President Trump has been ardent in implementing practices and executive policies that are likely to weaken democracy, and in extreme cases, herald the beginning of fascism. President Trump made it clear that he would deport undocumented immigrants from the United States. Even though this is a clear and positive decision, the strategies used to differentiate the immigrants from the legal citizens of the United States have proven inappropriate. The move has been a great contributor to modern-day segregation in the United States. Besides, Trump is determined to exclude all visitors from six major Muslim nations (Sponeck, Halliday, and Falk). The move has been greatly criticized as it is a clear sign that the U.S President not only has a regressive but also an Islamophobic outlook.
Another significant aspect that will potentially undermine U.S. relations with other nations is Trump’s signing of the executive order of a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for individuals of six principal Muslim nations. Besides, the order required a 120 days suspension of the nation’s refugee program, as well as a refusal of refugees exceeding 50,000 every year, a reduction from the 110,000 limit set by Obama, his predecessor (Zapotosky, Nakamura, and Hauslohner). The ban was met with massive protests, consequently making the courts freeze it. The six countries are Libya, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, as Iraq (which was in the first executive order) was excluded in the revised travel ban. The ban has received criticism from refugee advocates who claim that it only punishes refugees but fails to improve security in the United States (Zapotosky, Nakamura, and Hauslohner). The decision by President Trump further proves the increasing drift between the U.S. and the outside world, and it also promotes radicalization in the sense that individuals blocked from visiting America always feel resented.
The decision by President Trump regarding immigrants as well as excluding visitors from the six countries has received worldwide, vibrant and popular dissent from nations in all parts of the world. Such widespread opposition is from many nations from South Korea to Romania, Gambia to Brazil, and also from the UK to the Ukraine. Also, it is evident that Trump is dangerously exploiting the frustration of not only the Americans but also people from all over the world, with the political foundation that is unheard of regarding its breadth and depth. As explained by Sponeck, Halliday, and Falk, the umbilical cord that provides a nexus between the rulers and those who are governed is increasingly becoming stressed. With the rising differences between those governing and the governed, it is essential to note that the digital revolution is not only empowering governments with alarming potential for control and oppression, but it is also increasing the power of the citizens for resistance and also mobilization of opposition forces (Sponeck, Halliday, and Falk).
Threats and Military Attacks and Aggression
The preamble of the UN Charter law that also addresses power politics is founded on the proposition “we the people,” and not we the governments. Therefore, the people of any nation bestow their trust and power on the government for ensuring the well-being of the citizens as well as the development of the nation. However, the trust of people in their political institutions to attain economic and social progress as well as prevent war has significantly weakened, and in some scenarios, it has totally disappeared (Sponeck, Halliday, and Falk). At the founding of the UN in the year 1945, the Mexican delegate forecasted that they had created an institution that only controls mice while the tigers are left to roam around freely. The prediction is actually true as the permanent members of the UN Security Council i.e. China, Russia, UK, France, and the US “roam around freely” and further lack respect for the authority of the UN, and also the international law. As a result, the permanent members continue to pursue their respective nationalist agendas with no accountability. As further elaborated by Sponeck, Halliday, and Falk, the five nations are the major consumers as well as exporters of military hardware that consequently facilitate militarism and weapons of war (“merchants of death”).
These world superpowers supposedly wage international war against terrorism and political extremism, leading to horrific series of inhumane wildfires and slaughter. Wars that should never have come to pass as well as the covert ones (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Yemen, and Syria) are staged with the intention of bringing stability or peace but in reality, a series of intensified human suffering results. Old struggles continue to be magnified while new ones are created. A suitable example is the most recent U.S. invasion of Syria on the ground that President Assad’s government had attacked its opposition using lethal chemical weapons.
The move by President Trump to authorize an attack on a Syrian air force base has not only received criticism from all over the world but is has also sparked tension and fear of a major war between the US and Syria (and its allies). The U.S. has defended its move on Syria attack claiming that it was in response to the Syrian government that is blamed for launching an attack (using deadly chemical) in Khan Sheikhoun in Idib province, the rebel-held town, killing about 87 people. However, the Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed that the U.S. and the West fabricated the poison attack in the country in order to justify a military attack. President Assad, in an interview with the AFP news agency, claimed that it was not clear whether the attack really happened, and claimed that there are numerous fake videos in the modern world. The president further insisted that Syrian forces gave up their arsenal of the chemical weapon back in the year 2013.
As reported by Aljazeera, Russia has claimed that the chemical weapons that caused the deaths were from a rebel chemical arsenal; hence there is the need for an international probe on the matter (Russia, Syria, and Iran warn the US against further strikes). In a meeting with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts in Moscow on 14th April 2017, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated that similar attacks would attract “grave consequences not just for the regional but also the global security” (Russia, Syria, and Iran warn the US against further strikes). Lavrov further insisted that the Syrian government has reiterated their position and in unison, they stated that the military attack was an act of aggression that clearly went against the principles of the UN Charter and the international law (Russia, Syria, and Iran warn the US against further strikes). The Syrian government has called on the U.S. and its allies to acknowledge and respect the sovereignty of the country and thus refrain from such attacks since they have potential repercussions for global as well as global security.
In this example of Trump’s decision to send the military in Syria, it is evident that even though the official agenda was to combat the claimed Syrian government oppression of its citizens, the attack on Syrian had ramifications such as human suffering as well as an intensification of tension between nations. Being the first few months of Trump’s Presidency, it would be a bad and negative legacy to start war such as the case with Bush’s Presidency. The decision by President Trump has left many unanswered questions regarding the kind of future relationship with other nations such as Russia, Iran, as well as the attacked country, Syria.
Another executive decision by President Trump that is likely to undermine international relations is redirecting an aircraft carrier strike group toward Korean Peninsula and further giving a warning that it would forcefully respond if the Pyongyang (North Korea capital) nuclear weapons test happens. According to a warning by North Korea’s state media, Kim Jong Un’s government is more likely to use the Saturday 15th national holiday for a weapons test, even though it could be another ballistic missile (something less provocative) (Hennigan and Demick).
North Korea has also warned the U.S. that in the event of a military strike, the former will ruthlessly ravage the U.S. The Korean People’s Army released a statement saying that President Trump has “entered the path of blackmail and threat” and they would not take that lying down (Hennigan and Demick). The U.S. (President) should respect the sovereignty of other nations and cease acting as the body mandated to control the global security. In the event of nuclear (North Korea scenario) and chemical weapons (Syrian case) production and or testing, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (the UN’s chemical watchdog) should be left to carry out its mandate, hence no country should assume that role.
Regarding the threats of an attack on North Korea by the U.S., China has issued a warning to the U.S. after the surprise redeployment of an aircraft carrier group (‘Riskier than striking Syria’: Beijing warns the US against attacking North Korea). There have been mounting tension in the region upon the declaration by President Trump that he would solve the “North Korean problem” even if China fails to offer any help. Beijing responded to U.S. belligerence by calling against the use of force against Pyongyang, stating that military force will not solve the issue. Experts assert that President Trump authorizing military actions against North Korea will be riskier as compared to sending missiles to Syria since Pyongyang has the potential to deal a massive retaliation to South Korea. Being a U.S. ally, South Korea will bear the nuclear pollution repercussions in case North Korea throws the dirty bomb. Besides, the Washington should accept the fact that currently, it does not have the power put global matters into order; hence it should work with other world superpowers on the Korean situation, particularly via the UN Security Council, even though the U.S. has already shunned this body following the unilateral attack on Syrian air force base (‘Riskier than striking Syria’: Beijing warns the US against attacking North Korea).
The U.S.-Mexico Border Wall
Nonetheless, the move to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and further imposing the costs of the wall on Mexicans, is another way of creating a drift between the two countries, hence complicating the international relations between the two. Nonetheless, business and trade related activities between the two nations would be undermined if the move to build the wall is implemented.
The Issue of Climate Change
In the course of Trump’s campaign, many analysts saw the possibility of serious consequences regarding climate change if Trump was to secure the Presidential seat. The early indications immediately after Trump won the Presidential elections indicated that he would be advised by skeptics of climate change, and with that, it was believed that he would turn out to be cavalier regarding the value and essence of international cooperation responsible for setting standards for emissions. Besides, it was expected that Trump would be skeptical on the importance of measurable changes in human activity that cause the severe problem of global warming. In addition, many people were worried on the different ways Trump would choose to do the damage, either by signing executive orders that overturn the commitments by his predecessor (Obama), or by setting new measures that increase the number of traditional energy industries, thus make the United States fail to comply with the Paris climate agreement.
The predictions and worries expressed by analysts have come to pass as President Trump has greatly disregarded the issue of climate change (global warming). Other than failing to cooperate with other nations in setting emission standards, Trump has threatened to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Also, Trump has on different occasions termed climate change a “hoax” and has as well gone to the extent of blaming China for the rising temperatures. Similarly, President Trump has claimed that the issue of climate change was coined for and by the Chinese in efforts to ensure that the U.S. manufacturing is non-competitive (Haas).
As reported by Haas of The Guardian, Washington should take to lead in the intensified fight against global warming, but it is evident that Trump administration could be the first of the world super powers to ditch the Paris climate agreement. It is surprising to note that China, being the largest emitter of greenhouse gases leading to global warming, has its leaders firmly agreeing that climate change is a real and serious threat, but the U.S, which is the second in emission of such gases, still hold that climate change is a hoax (Haas). Therefore, the Chinese government has viewed the U.S. as selfish after Trumps bid to roll back numerous regulations set by Obama and bringing back coal (it would cause increased global warming), and further pull out of the Paris agreement.
According to the Chinese government, even though Beijing tries its best, it would prove impossible to take on all responsibilities that the Washington is seeking to refuse (Haas). There is the need to note that in as much as President Trump holds that the issue of global warming is just a catch phrase coined by the Chinese, bringing back the traditional energy industries (coal industries), it is the lives of the Americans that would be put at risk. Besides, even though the primary defense put forward is that the coal industries will generate employment opportunities for Americans, the overall outcome would be an environment with compromised air quality as a result of the emissions from the industries. With such knowledge, it would be prudent to conclude that President Trump is not committed to keeping the promises he made to his ardent supporters during the campaign that his government would level the playing field for all Americans. The case of canceling most Obama-era emission regulations and reintroduction of coal industries proves that Trump is not leveling the playing ground, but he is very busy boosting the rich and upper social class who own or have huge shares in the traditional energy industries.
Also related to the issue of climate change is the drift President Trump has created with other major world powers. For instance, despite the recent meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, the former, through the Chinese state media, has greatly lambasted Trump’s efforts to overturn emission or environmental regulations that were put in place during the Obama era (Haas). The editorial of the Chinese state media delivered the message that western opinion should persist to pressure President Trump’s administration on matters of global warming and that the political selfishness of Washington should be highly discouraged (Haas). In that light, Trump’s presidency has proved to be a major roadblock to the global war against climate change.
Business/Trade under Trump’s Administration
There have been various views regarding the potential and actual impacts that businesses have had to undergo after Trump took over the office. On the campaign trail, President Trump made the promise to shake things up, and upon his inauguration, there have been various decisions directed at fulfilling the promises. The most critical executive decision that directly affects businesses in the modern day and age is on the reduction of regulations. During the presidential campaign, Trump promised that about 70% of federal regulations would be scrapped off, and as further explained by his advisors, cutting 10% of controls was among the many components of the economic plan. Even though it remains unclear whether the President will achieve the 70 % mark as promised, it is evident that he is making an effort, since he took office, he has signed various executive orders meant to reform regulations.
The first executive order about businesses was signed at the end of January, and it was on “Reducing Regulations and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” The order aims to not only limit the number of federal regulations but also reducing the incremental regulatory cost cap to zero dollars for the year 2017. According to Trump, the numerous regulations inhibit businesses, particularly small businesses, to comply, make profits and also grow. The other executive order regarding business operations was directing the Secretary of Treasury to review the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, and it was signed on February 3, 2017. The order is aimed at reevaluating as well as scaling back the Dodd-Frank Act that was put forward to a similar financial crisis like the one that occurred in the yea 2008.
Even though the full meaning of the executive orders signed by President Trump is not well understood, and it is still too early to see how the orders work in practice, it is evident that each part of the Dodd-Frank Act will be canceled. Nonetheless, it is advisable for businesses to be well prepared to adapt to the quickly transforming regulatory landscape, and also since the future is more unpredictable than ever before (What business thinks of Donald Trump).
Also, major organizations in the United States have shared their opinion regarding the potential influence Trump’s presidency on their businesses. The CEOs in sectors such as technology (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Tesla Motors), financial sector (i.e. Bank of America, ), media and telecommunications (21st Century Fox, Netflix), consumer (i.e. coca cola), manufacturing (i.e. Boeing, Honeywell, General Electric) and other such sectors have expressed their opinion, with most opposing the order on banning immigration in the United States (What business thinks of Donald Trump). For instance, the Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO asserted that Mr. Trump was not the right “guy” for president just before the elections. Besides, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai stated that the organization is upset regarding the immigration ban, since it has the potential to impact Googlers and their families, particularly through barriers to bring great talent to the U.S. Mr. Zuckerberg as well expressed his concerns regarding the impact of the executive orders on immigration. According to Zuckerberg, America is a nation of immigrants, and everybody benefit when the best and the brightest people from around the globe can be allowed to live, work, and offer their services in the nation; hence they are the future of America (What business thinks of Donald Trump). In this light, many CEOs have been against some controversial executive orders that President Trump has signed since assuming office since the orders have serious ramifications on the success of businesses in the U.S.
Mr. Trump’s campaign focused on populism that fully exploited ideas that are not just acceptable but also addresses everything that the uneducated, as well as low-qualified Americans, believe in. As a result, President Trump received full support from a majority of blue-collar Americans as well as those without higher education. The slogan by Mr. Trump during the campaign to “Make America Great Again” offered a promising assurance to the general public that his presidency would address all the underlying issues that the previous regime failed to tackle. Besides, President Trump claimed that his administration would level the field for all Americans, hence empower even the working class who has “been oppressed for a long time.” President Trump in his campaign appeared to hold no stand regarding his specific foreign policy proposals as he appeared to change his perceptions, and there were concerns and fear regarding the strategies as well as his governing style should he be the president. The fear has become real since President Trump took office. Since then, he has signed various executive orders that have been considered controversial by most Americans. Among them include the ban on immigrants from six specific countries, most of which are Muslim nations, his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and reintroduction of coal industries, his authorization of an attack on a Syrian air force base as well as the threats of an attack on North Korea should it test its nuclear weapons. Another significant issue raising controversy is the proposal to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and further claiming that the Mexicans will incur the costs for the wall. All these executive orders and decisions made by Mr. Trump are increasingly damaging the strong international relations that the United States had with the rest of the world, and fear is mounting regarding the future of global peace should he continue implementing such unilateral decisions.
In conclusion, President Trump seems to contradict whatever he promised the electorate during the campaigns, as the orders signed (i.e. the decision to increase the number of traditional energy industries) target the welfare of the few rich individuals in the country. In that light, President Trump has turned out to be less interested in addressing the problems facing the working class, hence it is evident that he has disregarded the promises he made during the campaigns, particularly when it comes to leveling the playing field for all Americans.
“‘Riskier than striking Syria’: Beijing warns US against attacking North Korea.” RT Question More. 2017. Web. 15 April 2017
Haas, Benjamin. “Climate change: China calls US ‘selfish’ after Trump seeks to bring back coal.” The Guardian. 2017. Web. 15 April 2017
Hennigan, W J and Barbara Demick. “When it comes to North Korea, U.S. military options range from bad to worse.” Los Angeles Times. 2017. Web. 15 April 2017
“Russia, Syria and Iran warn US against further strikes.” AlJazeera. 2017. Web. 15 April 2017
Sponeck, Hans Von, Denis Halliday and Richard Falk. “How the United Nations should respond in the age of global dissent.” New StatesMan. 2017. Web. 14 April 2017
“What business thinks of Donald Trump.” Financial Times. 2017. Web 16 April 2017
Zapotosky, Matt, David Nakamura and Abigail Hauslohner. “Revised executive order bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from getting new visas.” The Washington Post. 2017. Web. 15 April 2017