Why Trump As President Scares The Shit Out Of Me Even Though I'm From Malta
Yes. It does affect me.
I woke up this morning and felt my stomach plummet as soon as I switched on my phone. I have spent the morning so far reading about how this could have happened (democracy) and why (fear, anti-establishment sentiments). I felt much like I had on the 24th June, as a deluge of media reports confirmed that the majority of the UK wanted to split with Europe.
Why do I care? Truth be told, I have no logical reason to be so upset. I have no horse in this race. I am a citizen of neither of these countries, nor do I have international business concerns. Given Malta’s position, that of being lovingly ensconced within the protective bosom of a much bigger, much stronger EU, there is no direct threat to my immediate safety or that of this country. The economy here has weathered the various calamities thrown at it over recent years mostly unscathed.
So why do I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me?
1. The environment
The decisions that America takes have a massive impact worldwide, regardless of whether those decisions are about military spending or safety standards for washing machines. Donald Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese is terrifying to anyone who has watched weather patterns change, sea ice melt, species go extinct and people displaced by rising sea levels.
His declaration that he would pull the US out of the landmark Paris agreement and that he wants to increase coal production (after it has fallen steadily over the years as energy producers change to gas or renewable sources) could turn out to be the final nail in the coffin for all the efforts made to slow climate change. If a country as big and influential as America pushes for more fossil fuels, you can be sure that the rest of the world is going to feel it.
2. Tax evasion
If a man who stands up in front of a large crowd and proudly declares that he is ‘smart’ for evading millions in tax on his various businesses can be elected president, what does that say to the world’s elite? How does this impact the Panama Papers investigations all over the world?
When the man holding the highest office in the US thinks he’s clever for not contributing to infrastructure, healthcare, social security, community programs, and education, what hope do we have that the people at the top – the ones who can afford to pay their taxes the most – won’t take that as an implicit carte blanche to do the same or continue to do the same, as the case may be?
3. Civil rights
This year has been marked by countless incidents that prove that xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny are alive and well in the United States. America has just elected a man who considers the answer to the pervasive mistrust and hatred between people is to divide them further.
A man who has made unabashedly sexist comments on live television. A man facing a handful of accusations of sexual misconduct. A man who could not give a clear answer on whether he would remove the right of same-sex couples to marry if he were elected. A man who thought nothing of belittling his opponent by calling her the worst thing he could possibly think of – a (nasty) woman.
A man who thinks Muslims should be banned, Latinos deported and whose supporters thought nothing of repealing that rather important line in the Constitution that gives women equal right to vote. A man with the support of the KKK. Anyone in America who is not a straight, white, able-bodied man is probably very concerned right now.
4. International affairs
Donald Trump is used to running a business, where he alone calls the shots and the people around him say ‘how high?’ when he says ‘jump’. Anyone with even a basic understanding of diplomacy and politics knows that it doesn’t quite work that way. That realm is all about compromise and negotiation. For all her faults, Clinton does at least have the experience in this area. But no. Instead, America has voted to give this man, who could not give a coherent explanation of any policy he was asked about, the nuclear codes.
And for all the concern that Trump is in bed with the Russians, I think that concern is misdirected. Putin might be a huge fan of the new president now but his volatility might prove deadly if Russia crosses a newly drawn line it does not know exists.
A Trump win is a shock to the system (though it being 2016, a most accursed year, we should have seen it coming). But frankly, even if Clinton had won, him running the race at all has opened the floodgates to some very nasty shit all over the world.
By winning, Trump has legitimized his rhetoric of hate, division and fear – everyone on the far right from Marine Le Pen to the so-called Maltese Patriots has already lauded his win– and championed the ‘us first’ mindset in a world that needs to be more outward looking in facing its various global challenges, from migration to trade to food security. If that doesn’t make you a tiny bit apprehensive, I don’t know what will.