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Here's a glimpse of what Donald Trump's America will look like

Pondering what Donald Trump’s presidency might be like is scary, writes Larry Donnelly.

Larry Donnelly

IN 1987, THE legendary Irish American and “lion of the US Senate,” Edward Kennedy, gave a thunderous speech just minutes after President Ronald Reagan nominated federal appeals court judge Robert Bork to the United States Supreme Court.

Senator Kennedy bellowed:

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.

Senator Kennedy’s words were intentionally inflammatory and based on a quite unfair and selective reading of Judge Bork’s past writings.

Judge Bork’s protests that his true positions did not remotely resemble what powerful interest groups and individuals claimed them to be fell on mainly deaf ears. The US Senate voted against his nomination, despite his being eminently well-qualified. In fact, current Supreme Court justices espouse viewpoints demonstrably further to the ideological right than Judge Bork did.

In 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump himself has proudly and defiantly made numerous statements that might actually render Senator Kennedy’s hyperbolic mischaracterisation of Judge Bork’s outlook for the future of his country less fearsome by comparison.

His evaluation of women 

Trump evaluates women primarily on their physical appearance and treats them as sex objects. Comedian Rosie O’Donnell, Trump suggests, could accurately be called a “fat pig,” “slob,” “dog” or “disgusting animal.”

GOP Trump 2016 Source: Associated Press

About one of his current Republican opponents, ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, he says: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Noting his own daughter’s attractiveness, Trump even posits that if she “weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

Trump has little sympathy for persons with disabilities, as his deliberate mocking last month of a reporter with a condition that severely limits the functioning of his joints makes clear.

Trump stereotypes people of different races and ethnicities. He asserts that Mexico sends to the US “people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people.” Asians, Trump claims, don’t say “hello, how’s the weather?”

They say “we want deal!” Leaving aside his manifestly racist and sexist comments, and moving to substantive policy matters, Trump denies climate change and asks on Twitter if the US is “still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?”


His take on immigration

With respect to immigration, he has made the construction of a large wall on the Mexican border a central talking point at debates and in stump speeches.


On foreign policy, he argues both that a Trump presidency “will make America great again” and that he will be “so good at the military, your head will spin.

He offers little by way of specifics on most issues and his command of detail is very weak. The American public, evidently, should simply trust in his allegedly boundless abilities and extraordinary instincts to make the correct decisions as president.

In his own words again, “I think apologising is a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologise, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”

Shutting out Muslims 

And now, Trump advocates “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Sadly, such an initiative isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

A majority of legal experts concur that it would be permissible under the US Constitution; President Jimmy Carter made it very difficult for Iranians to enter the US during the 1980 Iran hostage crisis; and there is a climate of fear there in the wake of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California that another terrorist incident linked to Islamic State would magnify greatly.

Trump in golf conservation deal Source: Niall Carson


Yet this would be a profoundly retrograde step for a country that was built by immigrants and has always revered freedom of religious belief and practice.

If one takes Trump’s utterances at face value – it is worth noting that he has retracted nary a word of the foregoing, notwithstanding repeated opportunities to do so since he started running for president – then his America would be a very scary and unwelcome place indeed.

Going after the J-1 Visa

In the US, Trump seems to aspire to, among other things: putative immigrants (even those on J-1 visa and other temporary visitor schemes) would largely be barred from entry and those already there would be subject to scapegoating and intolerance; the notion of gender equality would be scorned; ongoing climate change would be ignored; and foreign policy would be rooted in an extreme, unrealistic jingoism and dictated by a rash commander in chief with a supreme, unjustified confidence in his own capacity to lead.

But the thing is, I don’t take Mr Trump fully at his word. It’s telling that he once praised President Obama and the Clintons, favoured wholesale health care reform and identified “more as a Democrat.”

While he weighed up the viability of a presidential run over the past few years, however, he determined that, in order to win as a total political outsider, his candidacy – his sales pitch, to use a term Trump is probably more comfortable with – had to be completely different. He correctly identified the tremendous anger that’s there in spades in the US about a wide range of things and has skillfully exploited it.

His campaign’s defining feature has been lowest common denominator politics, with controversial, populist, headline grabbing statements aplenty. For instance, the press release about banning Muslims was issued on the same day as a poll showed him no longer to be in the lead in Iowa, where the first votes in the nominating process will be cast on 1 February.

Trump appears willing to do whatever he deems necessary to win, regardless of the consequences.

Pondering what Donald Trump’s presidency might be like is scary.

Fortunately, for a variety of reasons outlined elsewhere by this writer and many others, it’s something that is highly likely to forever remain hypothetical. On the other hand, pondering just how well Trump’s message and messaging undeniably has resonated with tens of millions of Americans – whether he means everything he says or not – may be even more scary.

That’s because his appeal is not hypothetical. It is very real.

Larry Donnelly is a Boston attorney, Law Lecturer at NUI Galway and columnist with TheJournal.ie and IrishCentral.com.

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