For those of you unfortunate enough to have caught the 45th President’s inaugural address, you will not need reminding of the fact that America would be putting itself ‘first’ henceforth. (Seriously, he pretty much just repeated that again and again for twenty minutes.) Americans, however, should consider the question of when their nation has ever done anything but this. After all, even though they produce only 5% of the world’s energy, they consume 24%. Their defense spending outranks the next top seven nations. They owe China over $1 trillion. And they have a dubious habit of invading wherever the globe may stop spinning at, depending on what’s for dinner. So Trump, if you or your idiot supporters are reading, please heed this blog.
The first week of the Trump administration has stirred about as much controversy as George W. Bush did in his first four years. Aiming to move against abortion (women’s) rights and the Department of Energy whilst reinstating interest in controversial pipelines have merely been the cream of this crop. This past weekend saw the 36% approval-rated President (and usually the first week is a popular one for any president) signing another executive order to place a temporary ban on immigrants from select countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc.- the usual suspects). The shit hit the fan immediately with a New York judge, Ann Donnelly, ruling to prevent the removal of approved refugee applicants, people with valid visas, and “other individuals… legally authorised to enter the United States”. This did not impede on the constitutionality of the President’s order but it did send a strong message that will undoubtedly be interpreted as ‘the law being out to get him.’ The public, strangely enough, sided with the judge, in another devastating blow to the unpopular oligarch (whose approval rating, again, is 36%).
This is significant. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past and turn a blind eye to the refugee crises. Shutting down national borders may be a means to consolidating national security but is there a point to proudly claiming this as one’s nation then? Remember the Holocaust. Remember the breakdown of Yugoslavia. Do not let this be another instance of when humanity failed to look after its own. Do not make me look up quotes to illustrate this message better. Just accept that there are times when the right thing could have been done.
Immigration is not the only instance where Trump aims to look out for his beloved country, however. He’s also bringing the jobs back. Whilst this is undoubtedly an appealing notion (which anyone could get on board with), he seems a little bit naive. America is a strong nation with an innovative market but it’s also, like every other country, part of a global network of commerce. Many established brands such as Apple have held bases abroad for years now, to the point that turning back seems inconvenient, if not, inconceivable. I will not claim to be an economics’ expert but on a basic level of logic, do these companies need America more than they need the rest of the world? Are their images not enhanced by the fact that they employ in other countries? Is that not, in turn, beneficial for US relations with these countries? America needs to establish more manufacturing jobs, undoubtedly. They should also invest more in green energy. There are ways to thus get these jobs. On a practical level though, Trump’s ideology falls through.
Of course, this notion of putting America ‘first’ cannot be solely attributed to Trump. It has always been in the lexicon of their culture and history. It stems from that age old idea of American exceptionalism which has in turn, always had to be taken with a grain of salt (or in Trump’s case, whatever they put in a KFC bucket). It’s true that the US retains this image of mysticism; a land periled by the optimist hard-worker who could go from rags to riches and turn their life around. Whether that’s ever been the case, well… we’re getting off topic – the point I am trying to make here, is that Americans need to readjust their attitude about what their nation represents. If you said, “only in Ireland..,” you would likely be referencing some disappointing anomaly in the system. In America, it would likely be with a chirrup of prevailing encouragement. To an extent, it is admirable that they believe anyone can grow up to be President. When you spout nothing but ideological fanfare however, there is a tendency to avoid self-doubt, which is a key ingredient, to any great mind. Self-doubt (or skepticism) makes you think; question yourself and your underlying principles. It makes you consider other factors; other people and other countries. In conclusion, it is imperative that America recognises the importance of acknowledging and practicing self-doubt on a world stage.