Admittedly US President Donald Trump has a towering personality very fit for his office. Over six feet tall, with an unusually large jawbone and a large head on which he has grafted very expensive and artfully crafted auburn hair which distinguish him from all previous Presidents. He keeps their colour changing from orange to slivery grey as suits his mood. This hairstyle reflects his power, and he cherishes his hair by frequently running his hands over them to keep them in shape. Always meticulously dressed in lounge suit with diamond cufflinks, he truly represents an impressive President of the USA.
Trump’s personality is certainly extreme by any standard, and particularly rare in a President. People who encounter him seem to find him confounding. But a look is needed at Donald Trump the man, his disposition and his inner motivation, that make his unique psychological makeup.
There is overwhelming evidence that Donald Trump’s moral vision is centered on the notion of power. Looking at the way he governed te USA, it is clearly his disregard for policy process, his use of Twitter as a political power tool to stir negative emotions among his followers, a desire to crush his opponents, and his unchecked narcissism which are the features which illustrate his idea of power. Thus he can go to any limit to save his presidency.
His morality does not matter as long as he adamantly follows his policy. His decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem was the product of his thinking influenced by the Evangelicals who believe that the restoration of Israel as an exclusively Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital is the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy.
In an address to the United Nations, Trump said he was elected “not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs,” but his rhetoric was in fact meant for his political supporters, most of whom were evangelical Christians, and the white nationalists.
Trump was a staunch follower of theologian Norman Vincent Peele according to whom there should always be a fusion of power and virtue. This theology is controversial and is not shared by all American Christians. His love for power and his contempt for losers were more akin to Nietzsche than to Christ. Moreover his love of power was influenced more by his personal power and material wealth, rather than his vision and deep political convictions. He was an iconic financial real estate tycoon before taking up politics.
More than “moral excellence,” virtue was understood by him as self-restraint whereas for the Founding Fathers of America, virtue meant to foster prosperity and preserve liberty. If religion was central to their political thought, it was not for its spiritual significance but for its social role in making an ideally good society. They saw virtue as an antidote to the threat of passion and divisions to secure their freedom.
President Trump on the other hand, displays the direct antithesis of virtue. His lack of moderation, his constant exhibition of emotion and exaggeration which he called “truthful hyperbole,” his habit of lying and exchanging truths for “alternative facts,” and his steady appeal to passion, fear and hatred; his attempt to pit one group against another and to bully his critics, were all his peculiar features. His Cabinet was full of rich people who indulged in unabashed displays of wealth, which was reminiscent of a plutocracy rather than a modern democracy. He did not care for any moral vision that has always characterized US presidential rhetoric. Whatever he said as President, power was the main underlying idea. It was also a lens through which he saw the world.
In so far Trump’s foreign policy was concerned, he showed his grit by pulling US troops out of the region of the Middle East, substantially reducing his forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, even after losing the November election. A recent survey revealed that three-quarters of Americans wanted US troops to leave Afghanistan and Iraq, and Trump did very well by pulling out a substantial number of US troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East where those had been deployed during the previous 20 years without any political or monetary gains. On the other hand he saved millions of dollars by avoiding or reducing American involvement in foreign countries. But Trump did all this without a follow-on strategy or after consultations with allies. But it is expected that his successor Biden shall adopt a deft regional diplomacy with a residual military presence capable of surgical operations. But he should capitalize on the political gains due to US retrenchment from the Middle East. Import competition from China has cost the USA at least two million jobs since 1999, many of them in the manufacturing sector. Opinion surveys reveal that most Americans see international trade as benefiting the US economy, but they want trade deals more favorable to US workers.
The Trump Administration’s foreign policy, including the USA’s ties with allies, relations with China and Russia, and policies toward the Middle East, North Korea, Venezuela, trade, and climate change, included some of his milestone achievements. His growing ties with India and forging of other military pacts was to contain the growing influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region.
The most prominent feature of Trump’s foreign policy was the withdrawal of the USA from international pacts and treaties. He withdrew from the Trans-pacific Partnership, UNESCO, and also withdrew from Iran Nuclear Deal, the UNHRC (Palestine Agency in the Near East), and the Banned Land-based Missiles Treaty. By these steps he really damaged what were useful networks of alliances and international institutions for the USA, making its position much weaker in the world.
President Trump’s taped admission to Bob Woodward that he deliberately misled Americans about the danger of the coronavirus makes him morally culpable in the ensuing tragedy. These were the result of his systematic cynicism which was symptomatic of everything he disliked or which did not benefit him.
In the aftermath of the present elections, he deliberately raised the bogey of their being rigged, and refused to vacate the White House. Wherever he went after the elections, he addressed rallies to incite them to revolt against the so-called rigged elections. This created a chaotic feeling in the masses, especially when Trump had no proof to prove that the elections were in fact rigged. His lust for power made him believe that some Divine power may reinstall him in power. Such was his greed to remain in power. The recent attack on the Capitol Hill was systematically organized by the hooligans of his party. This kind of mayhem and attack on the seat of government was unprecedented. In the past even when some Presidents had doubts about the fairness of elections, no objection or protest was ever made to save the democratic values of the USA. The world warily watches te USA’s postelection aftershocks. The move inside the government for the impeachment of Trump keeps him unmoved. He still desires to make a mess of the inauguration ceremony on January 20. As the things stand, it is speculated that the President will be dragged out of the White House by force, making a mockery of the democratic values of the USA. This would exemplify the greed of the President to remain in power even if there is no ground for him to hold his office after January 20.
The writer is a former member of the provincial civil service and can be contacted at [email protected]