A new year, same old concerns
With the fireworks and glitter now behind us, a part of moving from one year to the next, thoughts turn to a disturbing reality that something is happening to America where it pertains to the leadership of a nation billed as the most powerful on the planet.
Around the world, including Bermuda, concern is mounting that the United States and its Constitution are being tested by a president who seems committed to operating in a democracy with tactics commonly used by dictators.
Donald Trump’s style of leadership has been described by countless political observers as having a policy where those who disagree with him are at risk of being ushered out of his administration on the grounds of being unsuitable or unfit to carry out his agenda.
This past year, the US media have been engaged in a daily rollercoaster, as top officials in the White House were subjected to bitter criticism from Trump on a number of issues, with several ending up either fired or taking the decision to quit rather than remain in an atmosphere where to express disapproval could prove a ticket to the sidewalk.
This president is confronted by a tsunami of legal issues ranging from alleged business connections with Russia during his campaign for the presidency to several key members of his staff being hauled before a special prosecutor. Not only were some indicted, but they received prison sentences for lying to investigating officials.
All this after Trump, while campaigning for the Oval office, told his supporters that once in Washington he would clean out the political swamp. Instead, the White House is considered to be in state of utter chaos, with a president who is willing to take his marbles home if the game is not played according to his rules.
However, the running of a nation involves complying with constitutional laws. This protects against dictatorial conduct, which is a threat to just about every principle needed to keep democracy alive.
Since taking office, Trump’s presidency has been riddled with controversial tweets, lashing out at people in demeaning and insulting tones, and being accused by a wide range of news outlets of outright lying with no regard for facts.
Despite all of this, he has a support base that shows no signs of stepping back. Equally disturbing is the Republican Party’s reluctance to openly question bullying tactics that Trump uses constantly on opponents. An example is his obsession with building a wall between the US and the Mexican border to stop illegal immigrants. This is the wall he claimed Mexico would pay for.
The Democrats who are slated to take control of Congress this month, after a big win in the midterms, are adamant that he will get no wall — and that once in control, they will launch inquiries to ensure the President is held accountable for alleged misdeeds.
It is going to be a challenging year for Trump, who often states that only he knows what’s best for America. Shutting down parts of the Government over not been given the money he requested for the wall has created a backlash that continues to trouble veteran commentators. They fear America’s allies are becoming sceptical about the country’s ability to lead in a manner that promotes better international relations.
Americans are openly embarrassed by the language that Trump uses to demean those he dislikes. His behaviour is seen as not presidential, and sends the wrong message to young people over how to settle or agree on differences of opinion.
Bermuda has always enjoyed a great relationship with America, and although many Bermudians are far from happy with the present administration, they are not likely to allow what is clearly a political dilemma there to unravel what took years to build.
Bermudians also know there are many beautiful Americans who cling to those cherished values of decency and respect for all. It will be those Americans who hopefully will close ranks, and together demand better leadership.
Around the world. That seems to be what most are hoping for in this new year.