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Trump: Fiery populist in the White House

Washington, United States | AFP |

Standing on the steps of the US Capitol, his fist exultantly raised, Donald John Trump had just finished his inaugural address.

Speaking in aggressive tones with strong nationalistic accents, and with little regard for the customary solemnity of the historic transfer of power, his was the triumphal face of a new populism, now at the helm of the world’s most powerful country.

Surrounded, as always, by his tight-knit family as he prepared to take up residence in the White House, he again intoned the slogans that had defined his presidential campaign: “America first” and “Make America great again.”

After a drama-filled and often bitter campaign, Trump, 70, has written one of the most incredible pages in his country’s history.

Without the slightest political experience, Trump rose in less than two years to the highest office in the land.

And despite xenophobic and sexist utterances during the campaign that caused shock, anger and scandal, the New Yorker has been embraced by a significant part of America.

“I think it’s fair to say he and I are sort of opposites in some way,” former president Barack Obama has noted, with considerable understatement.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine two more different men: the country’s first black president, a man of natural elegance and intellectual brilliance; and the brusque billionaire property mogul with the strangely colored blond hair, the physical corpulence, and a proclivity for using simple words and blunt phrases.

Trump is above all a bred-in-the-bone businessman, having built his fortune in luxury real estate projects and high-end golf clubs.

In recent years, he has made the Trump brand his principal asset — leasing the use of his name on office buildings, hotels and establishments around the world.

He is also a celebrity who has long circulated in Manhattan’s high society.

The former owner of the Miss Universe contest owes much of his notoriety to “The Apprentice” — a reality TV show, which he produces and previously hosted, in which the winner is offered a job in the Trump Organization.

He is extremely rich, though probably not to the tune of the $10 billion he has claimed: Forbes magazine in September estimated his worth at $3.7 billion.

– Political instinct –

As a politician, Trump is an aggressive, impulsive and immoderate man who makes no attempt to contain his outsized ego.

But he also operates by instinct, and that helped him best a crowded field of Republican candidates, capturing and exploiting the anger and frustrations of a sizable part of the American electorate — a white working class that has felt devalued and ignored, victimized by globalization and free trade deals.

At 70, he is the oldest man to claim the presidency. But his energy seems inexhaustible.

Trump has little in common with those he promises to defend against the nation’s elite, an establishment he regularly vilifies.

Before his move to the White House, he lived in Manhattan atop Trump Tower, in a flamboyantly gilded three-floor penthouse apartment. Before his election, he traveled in an ultra-luxurious private jet and was willing to pour $50 million of his personal fortune into his campaign.

“What amazes a lot of people,” he told Time magazine when it named him Person of the Year, “is that I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen — and yet I represent the workers of the world.”

For Trump, a top priority is bringing jobs back to the United States.

Since his election, and before taking the oath of office Friday, he has pointedly applied pressure to employers, with at least some positive results.

Some automakers have announced new investments in the US or say they will move some production from Mexico to the United States.

He vowed recently to be “the greatest jobs producer God ever created.” And in his inaugural address, he promised to hew to two simple rules: “Buy American and hire American.”

– Moscow’s man? –

Trump has pursued his unconventional, disruptive approach to politics at every level.

He led a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, seizing the levers of control.

Party bigwigs who once curtly dismissed him as “phony” or a “con man” have fallen in line and, one after another, have sworn allegiance.

They have had to swallow a series of bitter pills as Trump successfully sold a few simple principles to American voters.

Immigration is a problem? We’ll build a wall and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. Terrorists pose a threat? We’ll ban all Muslims — or on second thought, just those from “high-risk” countries.

Such talk was deeply unsettling to blacks, Latinos, minorities and foreigners living in the United States.

In the complex geopolitics of the 21st century, Trump called for closer ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, still an enemy of America in the minds of many Republicans.

The true nature of Trump’s links to Moscow has given rise to the most intense speculation.

US intelligence services say they are convinced the Russians attempted to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton by hacking the electronic communications of the Democratic National Committee and her own campaign chief.

During his campaign against the Democratic former senator and secretary of state, he relied far more on insults and provocation than on political argumentation.

– Brutal rhetoric –

With “Crooked Hillary” and “Lock her up” slogans chanted raucously at his huge rallies, he took political confrontation to a level of brutality unseen in modern US politics.

Since his election, Trump has almost exclusively used Twitter — where he has 20 million followers — to deliver his blunt messages.

In stormy, aggressive language, he has settled accounts with those who offend or dare criticize him.

“He’s not making a move to become more presidential. He’s not the type to adapt to a role, he’s the type to impose himself on the job,” Michael d’Antonio, the author of “The Truth about Trump,” said in an interview with AFPTV.

During his campaign, Trump, miraculously, has emerged unharmed from the most compromising of revelations, in particular when he had to admit to using vulgar and abusive language regarding his treatment of women.

He was not at his best in the televised debates against the famously well-prepared Clinton.

But his campaign rallies often had an electric feel, and Trump proved adept at galvanizing crowds while seeming to embody the hopes of large numbers of voters.

– Family first –

Trump was the fourth of five children born to a New York real estate developer.

After a sometimes turbulent childhood, his parents sent him to an elite New York military academy in hopes the regimented lifestyle would calm him.

After his Ivy League studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, he joined the family business.

His father helped him get started with what he called a “very small loan” of $1 million, though some reports put the amount at perhaps 10 times that amount.

In 1971, he took control of the family business. But while his father had built apartment buildings for middle-class renters, Trump preferred luxury high-rises, glittering casinos and well-manicured golf courses, from Manhattan to Mumbai.

Trump would be nothing without his family — his closest partners and advisers in business and politics.

Only his wife Melania, a Slovenian-born ex-model, has remained in the background, planning to stay in New York for now with their young son Barron.

Trump’s adult sons Don Jr. and Eric will take over the running of the family empire.

Daughter Ivanka, 35, is moving to Washington with her husband, Jared Kushner, himself a multi-millionaire. And he will be a senior adviser to his president father-in-law.


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One comment

  1. Welcome President Donald J. Trump, let us celebrate; Lessons for Uganda, Africa and the world

    Who are the “people” the 45th President of the USA refers to?

    When the statement in which the word seems to be clothed in was made, my heart was pulled in many ways. I have attempted to analyze who the “people” are by following what the inner Trumpian circle is delivering to those of us who are outsiders.

    For those who follow American politics, there are ten issues that are directly linked to the President Donald J. Trump administration and these are:

    The ideology of America and how it should be packaged for those outside America by a charismatic President with a will for tangible results. America is both a mover and neighborly nation. Elsewhere, the terms used are imperialistic and isolationist when it suits it as seen when it moved to occupy Puerto Rico (Efrain Nieves, 2012). America enjoys a unique position which is as a result of the social, political and economical structures. It is defined better when doing business. America’s business is both within and out of its borders. This takes us to the second point that is directly following from this.
    The downstream needs of a populace which is divided and the democratic system in which President Donald J. Trump is officially inaugurated needs to be understood. The beauty of democracy has claimed three categories of American. There is a sizable quiet population compelled to follow through with what its democratic principles thrive on. There those who are celebrating and others who are joined in contesting the presidency. Celebration whether done privately or publicly and contestation are all pillars of the American democracy. Talk of diversity should not miss such as well as other characters that make America what it is. The President’s business is to ensure that all forms of civil engagement is for the good of America. This America is a diverse America. But, being a very powerful person now, it is incumbent upon him to package America for consumers who have known her for civility and peace.
    The President gave voice to an optimism and it is this that prompted those who voted him into power. Word from those who actually voted him spoke of the uplifting optimistic talks. In his inaugural speech he actually included the words “…, brown or white……..transferring power from Washington DC to the people….” gave back the “government.” In the first two days after he sat behind the desk in the Oval office, the President did two radical things: economic pledges got to be placed higher up on the to-do list; signed the executive order repealing of Obamacare/ACA. President Donald J. Trump is seen as one who will redefine America.
    Being the most powerful person now, the President will have to show a side of being inclusive as well as satisfying those who voted him in power. A person sitting before her or his TV watching the inauguration speech must have felt recognized and American. This person must have felt she or he put a President who delivers in the oval office. Deliverables will mark the true essence of President Trump and it is for this that even his detractors will like him. A thank you will be returned when he is voted for a second term.
    The people who feel a sense of loss and being disempowered have a voice that needs to be heard. This category of people have to be able to grasp the olive branch. The entire administration is that olive branch. President Donald J. Trump’s administration must walk half way and those feeling disempowered the other half. When this process starts, America will heal. America is capable of self healing because it has the infrastructure through which grievances are settled.
    The likeness or difference in tone in the books about the President Donald J. Trump administration are revealing. One particular book I have in mind is the one by David Horowitz, 2017. In the book the Big Agenda, he shows and breaks down three overarching themes on which the administration policy will depend: There is what he terms the adversary; the agenda; and the strategy. The three themes point to where and how much of America’s resources will be invested.
    There is need to accept President Donald J. Trump’s heritage which began when one was listening to the forceful inaugural speech. This heritage was tagged by the first actions in the oval office which included the signing of executive orders.
    The people’s understanding of democracy and its systems has opened long buried fears for some as well as emboldened prejudice in others. People in their neighborhoods feel different. There those who see a rise of white supremacy and a denigration of other races.
    The readiness of the people in the opposition to deal with the fact that President Donald J. Trump is the U.S. president must be two-way. The president must posture himself as an avuncular leader. The opposition must also not feel powerless, after all in the cycle of things they may be the next leaders. The people have to sense the passion in him as well as compassion.
    The administration’s sense and definition of work and that of the people has to be defined in form of: decent paying jobs; decent housing; bringing down high loan interests and therefore enabling job creation or investment in real estate; letting Americans shop without any fear of raids; and the government must be seen to be a unifier and inclusive by embracing human rights, immigration and tolerance for diversity and ridding all of us of malice.

    President Trump is not a failure, he is a deliverer. So, the word “people” for the Trumpian circle means serving all whether one voted for or against. The word “people” means representatives of diversity. Diversity means rich, poor, educated, less educated, non-English speakers, black, white, brown, Muslim, Mexican, Women, Immigrants and it also means citizens. The first order of the administration will be to make America appealing for all. This is the fuel that drives America. In this, there are lessons for the African continent and the world.

    David Horowitz. 2017. Big Agenda. Humanix Books. West Palm Beach, FL.

    Efrain Nieves. 2012. U.S. Invasion of Puerto Rico: Misconceptions vs Facts. Retrieved from: Retrieved on January 25th 2017.

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