Every nation has its own Trump

Friday March 11 2016

By LUIS FRANCESCHI
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This year’s American presidential election will be historic, no matter who wins.

Among all the presidential candidates, Donald Trump’s campaign has gained momentum. He is speaking a language we all hate, but the average American loves, promising to “make America great again”.

Mr Trump’s presidency may be the best thing that happens to Africa. His ignorance about us, his disdain for other nations, his uninterested boredom about climate change, his hatred for immigrants, in spite of his wife Melania being one, and his egoistic “I don’t give a damn about the rest” will make America implode.

According to Trevor Noah, Trump suffers light xenophobia with just a dash of diplomacy, like President Jacob Zuma. He also jumps into unscientific statements, like Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, says that people love him, like Mugabe, or that he has a great brain, as Idi Amin used to say.

So, Trump fits the description of an African dictator. After all, when former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi went to New York, he stayed at Trump’s house and pitched his tent in Trump’s garden.

The irony is that in Trump’s eyes, Africans are corrupt. True, we have our problems, and corruption is rampant.

But Ola Orekunrin put this in context when she said that, “people like Donald Trump believe that corruption is largely an African problem. But I wonder what he thinks of the Western politicians and regulators who stood by and watched while thousands of U.S. mortgages were sold to people who clearly couldn't afford them, heralding the biggest worldwide financial crisis of all time?”

DEPORTATION POLICE

Ola has a point. She adds, “When it comes to Africa, people like Trump will back their assertions by telling us to look at the international corruption indices. But the interesting thing about corruption indices is that the measures are designed in the West and then applied to Africa. If Africa had a hand in designing global benchmarks for good economic management, the sub-prime mortgage scandal that not only destabilized Western financial markets but financial markets worldwide, would earn America the lowest possible grade.”

In any case, Trump may really be the best thing that can happen to America, and to Africa. If America survives Trump it will have to go through a deep soul-searching, like a spiritual retreat. Africa, given Trump’s love for and knowledge of the so-called Dark Continent, will have to learn to deal with its problems man solo.

Trump’s agenda is entirely selfish. He intends to make America great again by changing internal policies and promising peace, security, work and better economic gains to Americans in America.

He is talking the language the average American wants to hear, but we are all eavesdropping, this being a globalised world, and America cannot survive in isolation.

Trump’s priorities are bigger public expenditure cuts, opening up gun ownership, deportation of all undocumented individuals, building a wall at America's Mexican border, freezing Green Cards, and banning all Muslims from entering the United States, at least temporarily.

Trump also wants to establish a “deportation force” to deport the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. He would also end automatic birthright citizenship to those born on US soil, and establish fewer tax brackets with lower tax rates.

WHAT HAPPENED TO ENGLISH?

Trump would seem to make sense to the average voter. In fact, his policy on taxes seems quite intelligent. Increasing taxes on smaller and richer brackets for a one-time pay down of the national debt seems clever. He plans to raise capital to restructure long-term debt and save billions in future interest.

But America is not alone, there is no bubble around it. Trump is trumpeting an American implosion: he says the country has done too much and the world is too small. But problems like ISIS, global oil prices, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, desertification, governance, China, human rights, and others, are all American problems. They will come knocking on the doors of every American family.

If the United States were a small nation, we would not pay attention to it. After all, in 2015 alone there were presidential elections in more than 23 countries around the globe and we heard little or nothing about them.

Some countries are closer to us, like Tanzania, Sudan, Burundi, Zambia, Seychelles, Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

Other countries were far, such as Argentina, Belarus, Croatia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Northern Cyprus, Poland, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.

For better or for worse, the US is not Togo, Uzbekistan or Guatemala. The United States is one of Kenya's biggest trading partners, and home to some 100,000 Kenyans, although a former Kenyan ambassador to the US once estimated the real number at around 200,000.

The US pays 40 per cent of the UN budget and has military bases all around the world. Like it or not, America’s actions and omissions are felt and suffered by all across the world.

What Trump is proposing will create an international power vacuum, which will necessarily be filled by France, Arab states, China or ISIS. Then we will ask ourselves, in Chinese, what happened to English. That’s how the Romans disappeared, and how Latin died. They just imploded.

"THE UNEXPOSED AMERICAN"

In Africa, this trend can only be managed by African leaders who are courageous and upright enough to stand on their two feet and stop stealing, or stop extending their stay in power.

Trump is speaking the right language for the average unexposed American, the American who has not seen the world and who thinks a great nation can survive on its own, in isolation. Although the more he is attacked the better he does in the polls, there is no selfish great nation. That’s a contradiction.

Who has taken Trump that far? Trump is everywhere. Look East, West, North or South; everywhere there is a Trump. Trump is inside us, above us, next to us. We are Trumps.

When we become racists, haters of others because of their culture, upbringing or skin colour, we are Trump. When I care about me, myself and I, I am Trump. We have Trump-ed our societies.

Trump’s presidential bid seems to have gained irreversible momentum. The whole world may hate him, but the world does not vote for a US president, only Americans do. For many of them, sadly, Trump embodies that egoistic dictum “I don’t give a damn about the rest”.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: “At the heart of liberty, is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

That’s what Trump is doing and his voters like it. It may be this relativistic and egoistic view, once held as America’s greatest treasure, that will end America’s prime position as a world leader.

Dr Franceschi is the dean of Strathmore Law [email protected], Twitter:[email protected]