I don’t know, what does Britain think about Trump? A: Not a lot. Well, can a country think? What would the good lady Britannia think? What if she was a middle class lady walking down Croydon high street, instead of the warring heroine from our coins?
As the UK parliament boards up its windows against a summer of coming rage and, possibly, riot, we look west in space and back in time to a land where we were all Americans. From our chrome-glittering Ford Escorts, to our washing machines and coolerators, with Dallas in the front room and oil spurting from every orifice. Yes, that was some sexy shit, back in the Reagan and Thatcher era. Even the Russians were on our side back then. With Gorbie, they really did party like it was 1999.
Where did it all go wrong? It can’t be Nixon’s fault. Reagan came a long, long time after him. Can’t blame Clinton. He made impeachment look like just a bad day at the office, and survived. No poncy resignations for him. He knew he had been manipulated, and he was damn well going to survive whatever they threw at him, those Republicans.
I cannot speak for the rest of the 60 million folk on these islands, battered by terrorism, fire, plague and pestilence since time immemorial. But I do think our system is better. I am certain that Trump could not happen here, and not only because we have a constitutional monarchy. Corbyn couldn’t be prime minister either, for the same reason Le Pen didn’t make a mark in France this year. These systems are so old and established that nothing at all could have allowed those two unlikely heroes to take up the reins.
This is no accident. There is a reason the Trumps and Farages of this world are not supposed to win elections. Because the system is carefully designed to prevent strong minded independents from accidentally causing the end of the universe. Yes, they may be popular. Yes, they may do well on TV, but they are not suited temperamentally, or in almost any other way, for the high offices of christendom. So the system contrives to keep them out. Until 9/11/16. Or 11/9, or whatever you call it.
Regular readers will know that I have followed the Washington Post, NY Times and even Louise Mensch’s excellent Patribotics blog. I believe Trump is too close to the Russian regime. I believe they tried to influence the election. But I do not believe they blew anything but the most trivial puff of air on the result. The reason Trump won, dear reader, is that you voted for him.
My colleagues think I am somehow out of touch, and I am. I visit the USA every 2 to 5 years. I hold my nose in the immigration line. I smile and nod at the idiot on the desk, and then curse him in colo(u)rful language after he lets me in. Up yours, Mr Homeland Security. This used to be my country. Until you beat us at a minor war a couple of years ago. We didn’t even show up. We had bigger fish on the fryer. We still do. And thanks for pitching in for World War I and World War II at the earliest opportunity. We sure are grateful, sir.
But while you have been blowing stuff up all around the world for the last 50 years, we have been busy doing something else. Eating humble pie. Joining those buggers in Europe we beat up in 1945 and pretending we like them now. Until Brexit. Yes, we have been learning something that is now called Soft Power. This is like real power but less powerful. But, it costs nothing but manners.
The reason my friends think I am out of touch is that the USA is so large, so complex, so fragmented, that it virtually makes no sense to have a single president representing them all. I agree. We had a similar system that we called the EU and it stalled at a younger age than the great United States. The EU was a mirage created by unelected technocrats who are now, mercifully, on the decline. We might be the first to leave, but we will not be the last.
Why is it that every article about Trump turns into one about Brexit? There are some parallels. Trump even thanks Farage for showing him how to do it, or something equally sycophantic. That’s the thing about Trump. He’s a sycophant at times, and radically egotistical at others. He looks like a bully and a coward at the same time.
But: here is what we really think. None of it actually matters. Trump is merely the most powerful person out of your 300 million or so. Even if he is 1000 times more powerful than anyone else, he is still only 1 / 300,000 th of the population. He will be gone in 4 years, or less.
This is the real challenge: how do you make it after Trump? What is your strategy for the next 100 years?
This is a huge opportunity for the USA. But it starts by realising that we really aren’t talking about you. We really don’t care very much about this president, or any of the others. We take a glancing interest. We have a little chuckle in the pub. Just as we do about our PM or the more strong and stable monarchy. There’s not much we won’t have a chuckle about in the pub, ourselves included. If any American walks in, so much the better. We’ll buy the chap a drink, wind him up gently, and then gasp in fake horror as he takes it completely the wrong way. Then we’ll all have another drink and forget about it, rolling our eyes.
So what does Mrs Brenda Britannia of Croydon think about anything? Who knows. The opinion polls certainly don’t. But I know what I think. Allowing ourselves to demonise and forensically dissect one single man, even if he is POTUS, is a grave error. It compounds the error of electing him in the first place. While we’re all rolling our eyes in amazement, what on earth is he actually doing when he’s not on Twitter? The brighter the spotlight on his Russian friends, the dimmer the bulb on his policy at home.
This is the world of illusion. He is distracting your attention from something. The only question is: do you know what it is? And should we be worried?