The election of Donald Trump sent a rocket throughout the heart of politics as usual in Washington DC. Not only was the complete outsider elected to the highest office in the land, he was accompanied by majorities in the House and the Senate with an unimpaired ability to create a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. The republicans had control as the country and the world braced for major tremors across politics, but in the grand scheme of things he achieved nothing.
He entered Washington in a similar state to Barack Obama did in 2008, the democrats too held their control of Capitol Hill for the new President. Trump, like Obama before him, lost control of the House of Representatives and the resulting legislative possibilities at his first mid-term election.
However, through this two-year period Trump has achieved very little on the legislative front. His attempt to replace Obamacare was stopped by the late Republican John McCain, who voted against it only a fortnight after brain surgery. This angered the President, who, in petty revenge, paid little respect after McCain’s passing, stopping a White House statement praising the former Vietnam prisoner of war and six-term Senator and needing to be bullied into keeping the White House flags at half-mast for longer than a day, as most others had done.
This typifies how the Trump administration has behaved, achieving very little legislatively except through his executive orders. However, what he has achieved is reshaping how politics is conducted and entrenching the partisan divides that were plaguing the swamp he pledged to drain.
As a sitting President seeking re-election runs on his record, Trump was ready to run on a strong economy, as Congress had stopped him reversing Obama’s progress, with his tax bill as his only real legislative achievement.
But Coronavirus hit and the market crashed. The lack of any UK-like job retention scheme has put almost 40 million Americans out of work and Trump can no longer run on fiscal security.
Trump, for a lack of other options, returned to his old playbook, and — with rallies off of the books — he needed some way to rile up his base. Something mad was incoming.
Let me take a moment here to address the events unfolding currently around the US and the world. I do not play any part of the editing of Spyglass nor would I make claim to speak on their behalf, but I think they will agree when I say that the racially motivated killing of George Floyd by a police officer, along with the all-too-many acts of senseless hate that occur across the United States, elsewhere in the world and at home in Britain, are disgusting. As a human being I am repulsed to belong to the same species as those who perpetrated these acts, and I hope that they will be brought to justice for their barbaric actions. And while the response that has spilled out onto the streets all across the world divides people, it is understandable from a community which has been so poorly treated for generations.
This was the madness Trump needed.
Stirring up racial hatred was his calling card throughout the 2016 campaign, and he has now been granted the perfect opportunity to do so again. While I doubt that he himself ordered the arrest of the press officials, his inability to condemn it shouts his position loud and clear. However, chances are that the teargassing of peaceful protesters for his “Christian” photoshoot was previously authorised by White House staff.
And, by deploying the Armed Forces into the cities of the US, he is creating a less metaphorical civil war, than four years ago but with the same cynical goal: four years in the White House.
Trump is courting the racist part of American conservatives, but as the country falls into chaos and the federal government is on the brink of declaring war on its citizens, having already tried to declare all left-wing protesters terrorists, what’s left of the constitution to conserve?
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