50 years ago, Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States. He went down in disgrace because of the Watergate scandal. Until Donald Trump burst on to the scene, Nixon was generally regarded as the President who’d most debased the office in modern times.
Nixon was flawed by his awkward manner and paranoia, seeing enemies around every corner. But his weaknesses seem small compared to Donald Trump. In his midterm campaign, Trump ignored the good news he had to tell on the economy in favour of a racist message to get out his base vote. So toxic did it become that even Fox News refused to run one of the Republican ads. In his demeanour, attacks on the media and institutions Trump increasingly reminds me of the pouting former leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini. Trump is not a fascist, but he threatens the fabric of America. Words have consequences, especially amongst the unstable.
May I also share another nagging thought with you. Whilst in no way questioning the desperation of the people on the Central American refugee “caravan”, the timing was so convenient for Trump. Could it be that these poor people have been manipulated by shadowy figures to begin their march at this time?
This vile campaign turned off voters in the American suburbs and lost him the House of Representatives. But Trump increased the Republican majority in the Senate by getting out his base vote in the more rural areas.
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama lost the House in their first terms and went on to be re-elected. This could well happen to Donald Trump. Democrat morale will be boosted by winning the House, but if they only use their majority to block the President’s measures, spend ages investigating his taxes and links with Russia or even, very foolishly, contemplate impeachment, voters will conclude they are only interested in beltway politics and not their concerns.
Added to that there is a huge debate going on within the Democratic Party about how to deal with Trump. Should they abandon their centre left posture and the acceptance of big corporate funding in favour of the socialist platform advocated by Bernie Sanders? And who is going to be the candidate? It is true that winning candidates for President can emerge from nowhere, but obvious Democratic contenders seem particularly thin on the ground at the moment. Could it be the ageing socialist Bernie Sanders, the reassuring former Vice President Joe Biden, or the narrowly defeated Texas Senate contender Beto O’Rourke?
One feels Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey would give Trump a run for his money, but they have ruled themselves out so far.
Many people who despise Trump’s crudeness nevertheless voted for him because of the economy. If that tanked the Democrats might have a chance. They have the big issue of health care which, polls show, mattered more to voters than immigration.
The war that didn’t end in 1918
I love my history and my mind keeps going back to the momentous events exactly a hundred years ago. The collapse of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, the consequences of which we are still living with today.
We will rightly celebrate the guns falling silent on the Western Front after all that dreadful suffering. However, it wasn’t the end of the war for many. Conflicts involving Poles, White and Red Russians, Greeks and Turks went on until 1924. Indeed, conflicts arising from the Versailles peace settlement in places like the Balkans, Iraq and Syria are still not resolved.
Lest we forget indeed.