Trumped Trump A Story of Fire and Ice By -Tahira Islam


Abraham Lincoln once said “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” The 2016 US presidential election has riveted the world, but not positively. The United States presidential election of 2016 was held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Defying most predictions, the Republican Party nominee, the businessman-turned-TV personality-turned-Leader of the free world Donald Trump and his running mate, Governor of Indiana Mike Pence defeated the Democratic Party nominee former first lady, former Secretary of State and former Senator Hillary Clinton and her running mate Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. The US presidential election was the headline of many news and printing media all over the world for the last two years. The republican nominee Donald Trump was the focus of most of those headlines, having made many controversial comments that earned him titles such as racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynist, bigot etc. The world considered the republican nomination to be a joke, with Trump being the punch line. Trump started his presidential campaign with the rhetoric “make America great again” against Hillary’s “Stronger together”. Building a wall in the border with Mexico so that Mexicans cannot pour into the country, banning Muslim immigration to the US would be many of his endeavors for making America great again.
Just two days before Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were set to meet for their second presidential debate; Trump was caught on tape making vulgar remarks about women. This has led to universal outrage that was thought to be damaging to his campaign. Trump’s wife soon to be the first lady of the United States Melania Trump dismissed his lewd comments as locked room banter. Despite Trump’s abysmal performance in all three of the presidential debates and his many degrading comments about women, immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans; he still became the president-elect by winning more than 270 electoral votes in predominantly white and rural states. The outcome is truly terrifying to Democrats and even many Republicans not to mention to the rest of the world who sincerely believe that Trump possesses an unstable, racist personality who shouldn’t have access to the nuclear codes.
Hilary Clinton herself made many mistakes – the most highlighted one was the issue of her emails. Clinton’s email issue has to do with her decision to use a personal email server instead of a government email address during her time as Secretary of State and deleting them afterwards. Under a 2005 federal law, letters and emails written and received by the Secretary of State are considered government records and must be retained. Clinton’s action regarding her emails spurred an FBI investigation. FBI Director James Comey identified 110 of the deleted emails as containing information that was classified at the time it was sent, including 65 emails deemed “Secret” and 22 deemed “Top Secret”. On 28 October, only 11 days prior to the presidential election, Comey sent congressional leaders a letter informing them that agents had discovered emails “that appear pertinent” to a prior investigation, into Clinton’s use of a private server while she was Secretary Of State. Even though FBI declared soon after that they have found no wrongdoing in the newly discovered Clinton emails, the move so close to an election, proved tremendously controversial.
It is being presumed that the reopening of Clinton’s email issue just prior to the election substantially influenced the decision of the voters. Before reopening of the email issue, Mr. Trump evidently stood backward in pre-election surveys conducted by different agencies. But soon after the issue was brought back into the focus again, Mr. Trump was able to successfully consolidate his base, bringing wayward conservatives back into the fold and shredding Mrs. Clinton’s hopes of offering a compelling closing message to US voters in the final days of the campaign. Other factors for his win reportedly include his offensive statements against Muslims, African-American, Hispanic and immigrants that attracted the white wave of US voters and gender factor.  A presumed comment by a common US voter, “our male-dominated, 240-year run of the USA is coming to an end. A woman is about to take over”.
After close assessment of Trump’s two-year long election campaign, what his presidency means for Americans and the rest of the world is uncertain to predict. The president-elect Donald Trump changes his mind so frequently and so dramatically that a compilation of his current policies would not be up to date for very long. It’s unclear how Donald Trump will keep his promise to build a wall across the United States’ southern border or how he plans to round up and deport the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Trump’s position about Syria is also unclear. The war happening in Syria is a catastrophe. As many as half a million people are dead, half the population has been driven out from their homes. The nation lies in ruins. But Trump has made it clear that his main priority in Syria likely will not be humanitarian intervention to save civilians but killing ISIS terrorists who might attack the United States. Donald Trump has said that if he attacks the Syrian regime, “it would be by surprise”. It probably means joining hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is Assad’s main ally, and for whom Trump has expressed admiration.
Just after Trump became the president-elect, he is again the focus of a new controversy calling for a Muslim registry that tracks Muslims living in the US. A spokesperson for Donald Trump has claimed the president-elect never advocated for such a registry despite a video showing Trump endorsing precisely such a plan. Trump was captured on film in November 2015 describing a registry or system that would register and trace Muslims living across the US. When asked by NBC whether Muslims would be legally obliged to register on the database, Trump replied: “They have to be, they have to be.” Trevor Noah, host of the daily show has suggested that if such registration process is undertaken by the trump government, all Americans should register as Muslims to stand in solidarity with the Muslim people.
Many agree that the climate change is one of the biggest threats facing by our planet. The world mostly agrees that something needs to be done about the climate change. The scientific debate about climate change has ended, largely because it’s been an obvious, observable reality for decades now that humans are causing the climate change. While Hillary Clinton listed “Protecting animals and wildlife” and “Climate change” as two major topics on her campaign website, Trump didn’t include anything about the environment. Hillary accepts climate change as a human-caused reality, while Trump does not. Trump said in his campaign website that he does not accept the scientific evidence that climate change is real and that he wants to dismantle the Paris agreement. Paris agreement sets targets to reverse the worst effects of global warming, which nearly 200 countries agreed to. Trump tweeted in 2012 that, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” If he succeeds in throwing back the climate change issue that will be a massive disaster for the success international community have achieved in mitigating the effect of climate change for the last couple of decades.
Many wonder what will Trump’s win mean for US allies and partners in Asia. The Trump administration will continue to face an Asia-Pacific region whose security environment is more uncertain with rising influence of China and an unpredictable North Korea. How US-China economic relationship will proceed in the years to come is still a big question. Trump has previously stated that the US gives way too many advantages to China and China’s laughing at how easy it is to take advantage of the US. Trump said that the US makes better products but China manipulates their currency so people almost have to buy Chinese products to stay in business. He thinks that the US should impose 25% tax on all imports from China. That would encourage buying American products and balance out the trade deficit.
Trump’s presidency might mean that the US allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region may no longer be able to count on the kinds of the reassurance about Washington’s security commitment that they have grown used to in the previous years. While such assurance may still be coming, there may be a greater pressure from Washington for countries in the region to bear a much greater burden not only for their own defense but also for regional security, possibly including spending more on their national defense as Trump has indicated during his campaign as well as in the presidential debates. Trump presidency will put greater uncertainly in the minds of some leaders in the region over how to balance their relationships with the United States and China. Trump presidency will simulate a much greater sense of uncertainty, even anxiety in US allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
Still there exists huge uncertainty regarding Trump’s policy in South Asia. India’s past experiences with US presidents show that a Republican president is generally better for them than a Democrat one. Although Trump wants to put harsher immigration rules, he also says he wants to woo Indian entrepreneurs and students to the US. During his election campaign we saw Trump’s adoration for Hindus. In fact, Trump and Modi share some common characteristic features, both are tragic hero, both used extreme sensation of people to win election and both showed their detestation for Muslims. India is an old strategic ally of US to continue US influence in this region on the verge of China’s rise as a supreme power. This might mean Trump would use India to counterbalance China. Therefore, Trump’s win will mean strengthening the US-India bondage. The United States old strategy to follow India’s policy in South Asia has been proved somewhat frustrating for Bangladesh. If Trump increases dependency on India regarding his South Asian policy, Bangladesh will be more squeezed in regional power balancing. As we have seen Modi is trying to polarize the South Asia, Trump’s win will increase the tension between countries in the region. Already Pakistan is siding with the Russia-China block. In this situation, Bangladesh should look beyond –should be more strategic in balancing the relationship with India, China, Russia and US.
If Trump starts a real war against ISIS, then the extremist group will seek a new battle ground. In that case Bangladesh is perceived as one of the good targets for terrorists to flee in. Therefore, the country should be more alert about the people crossing its border. As Trump emphasizes on business, Bangladesh should grasp the opportunity – it should utilize key strategic provisions of TICFA to the best of its interest to flourish the economy. Maintaining good trade relations with the incoming Trump administration will be critical for Bangladesh. The US is the single largest destination for Bangladeshi products after the European Union. This is despite Washington having suspended duty-free imports of Bangladeshi products in 2013, following the Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen factory fire that killed thousands of innocent workers.
To many of the Americans and to the most of the world, Trump’s rise to power feels like a return to an ugly time in the American history. From celebrities to civilians all over the world, everyone expressed their shock and horror through social media or by any available means. Katy Perry, an American rock star twitted that America is not a nation that will let hate lead them. American actor Chris Evans said it was “embarrassing” for America, adding, “We’ve let a hatemonger lead our great nation. We’ve let a bully set our course. I’m devastated”. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 7, said regarding the possibility of Americans fleeing to his country if Trump wins, “The fact is, Cape Breton is lovely all times of the year and if people do want to make choices that perhaps suit their lifestyles better, Canada is always welcoming and opening.” Sarcastically enough, the Canadian immigration website crashed as the US election results were rolling in.Some people consoled others by saying the world will not end but things will get more crazy, and that is a truly terrifying notion. What Trump will do or not do in the following years to come is keeping the world intrigued and I for one must say the world is pretty trumped up at the moment.
Tahira Islam is undergraduate student of CSE at the University of Dhaka.