Look, maybe it won’t be that bad. Within a few days of being elected President of the United States, Donald Trump has already climbed down on major issues that were cornerstones of his election campaign. President Barack Obama is showing him the ropes and it now seems unlikely the president-elect will hand Hillary Clinton over to the NRA for target practice. Oprah is trying to talk the world off the ledge, tweeting a picture of Trump and Obama’s first meeting with the words, “Everyone take a deep breath! #HopeLives!” Maybe not. But there are some things to look forward to over the next four years – including legalised marijuana in several US states. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Across the street from the grandiose 58-story Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, a man is struggling to take a selfie. Hordes of protesters are trying to push past the security barricades that now make it impossible to get close to the building that houses the president-elect of the United States and his family. Thousands of other people are trying to walk by, inconvenienced by the US Secret Service having to shut off one of the busiest parts of New York to protect the incoming president from ongoing protests.
Selfie guy is trying to take a picture of himself flipping off the menacing dark-glass tower – and obviously the main occupant. Because he is hemmed in by the crowd, he cannot get the entire tower in the picture. In the jostling, his phone keeps slipping. He is trying to take the picture with his left hand while his right hand is extended with his middle finger up. A policeman standing nearby approaches him. I think selfie guy is about to get walloped.
NYPD officer: “Why don’t you stand here? You’ll get a better angle.”
He points to a corner of the pavement where the barricade is jutting out, thus creating the only space not traversed by an annoyed human being.
Selfie guy: “Really? Um, okay…”
He edges gingerly into the space, probably still expecting a thumping, and takes his picture.
Selfie guy: “Thanks man. Fucking Trump hey?”
NYPD officer: “Yeah. Sucks. What can you do?”
This is the brave new world of the 45th president of the United States, a country so polarised by the election campaign and so utterly stunned by the results that it is impossible to know what might happen next. The NYPD officer is probably among many people in the security establishment repulsed by the idea of having to serve under the new Commander-in-Chief because of what he represents and after all the toxic waste he emitted during the campaign.
Americans who do not support Trump and who now have to serve under him (many of them did not vote for Hillary Clinton) have a tough time ahead reconciling with the fact that he is their president. Over 68-million of the 129-million people who voted in the presidential election did not vote for Trump and they too have to contend with him as their leader for the next four years. The rest of us who did not have a say in the election also have to suck it up and brace for the political and economic repercussions.
But perhaps there will be things to look forward to under a Trump presidency as we mine through our own nuclear waste heap of domestic politics.
- It is really difficult to keep up with many Washington-themed political drama series on television, including House of Cards, Scandal and Homeland. There also tend to go on long production breaks and they clog up your PVR. Now we will just have to turn on the news for what is likely to be a mash-up between The West Wing, Veep, Idiocracy and Survivor “Planet Earth”. And perhaps also The Girls of the Playboy Mansion.
- Donald Trump clearly does not know what the hell he is doing and is probably put out that he now has to run a country when all he planned to do was launch Trump Television and be the bane of President Hillary Clinton’s existence. It is going to be fun watching him be straight-jacketed by the system he set out to destroy.
- There is no better platform to expose someone’s weaknesses and inability to lead than the presidency. Ask Jacob Zuma. Seriously Mr Trump, ask Jacob Zuma – when you eventually figure out that South Africa is a country, not a direction on the continent.
- Beyoncé, Jay Z, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Adele, Bruce Springsteen and the dozens of other artists, celebrities and sports stars can go back to doing what they do best. The 2016 US presidential campaign proved decisively that Beyoncé does not in fact run the world and that politicians should be left to manipulate the electorate without backing vocals.
- For the country that continues to be entertained by Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the White House is going to be a reality TV sensation with Trump and his progeny hissing, bitching and waging war from the Oval Office. Some Trump supporters said they looked forward to Melania Trump being the First Lady as she would be “the next Jacqueline Kennedy”. There are already parallels. Melania might prove to be a fashion trendsetter but let’s not forget the pain and humiliation of having a philandering husband, just like Jackie.
- There is a lot of concern about how the new president will relate to the media after a constant vicious onslaught against journalists during his campaign. Whether Trump likes it or not, the world’s media will be watching his every move and will he discover that the more he tries to conceal his political and business manoeuvres, the more they will leak out. (See J.Zuma, South Africa; 2009-present)
- One industry that is likely to boom is the comedy and political satire business. A wide spectrum of late night comedy shows kept Americans laughing through their horror for the duration of the election period. Within a week of being elected, Trump has already backtracked on campaign promises such as repealing Obamacare, immigration and the great wall he vowed to build between the US and Mexico. There will be a great deal more flip-flopping and back-pedalling from Trump as the reality of governing sets in, which will no doubt keep John Oliver’s and Trevor Noah’s ratings high. (There is a chance Trevor might get deported for offending the president but then we will afford to go to his stand-up shows again.)
- Trump’s speeches on the campaign trail were all bombast and vitriol. His spin doctors will have to repackage him for his inauguration, the State of the Union and other big speeches like addressing the United Nations. Trying to make Trump look and sound presidential will be like trying to turn an ass into a racehorse.
- Trump’s bromance with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been somewhat bizarre. Once Putin gets frustrated with Trump not dancing to his tune (Trump has real difficulty sticking to one position on anything), the bromance will crash and burn. Their relationship is in no way sustainable as they are both egomaniacs who believe they are playing the other. They will soon be looking for new BFFs.
- Barack Obama is always going to be the president who came before Donald Trump sent the US to hell. People will remember the first black president and his time fondly, his rousing speeches, his dignity, his achievements and his great sense of humour. Through him, we got to know and fall in love with Michelle, a woman who distinguished herself through her intelligence, grace, promotion of health, education and gender equality, as well as her love for her family. What will come after them will be a veritable three-ringed circus.
- It will be great to see white supremacists and racists eat their words when their guy tanks – which he will. Of course, supremacists and racists rarely have the grace to admit they were wrong but the rest of us can forever dine out on the fact that a bigoted, sexist, white, male businessman tried to run the most powerful nation and failed. However, we might be less gleeful if we’re sneering “I told you so” from a smouldering nuclear wasteland.
Millions of people around the world have balked at the idea of a Trump presidency and the implications for the planet. Yes, Trump is likely to be an unmitigated disaster but his administration will be bigger than any blockbuster Hollywood could have imagined. We all get to watch it unfold and history being recreated.
After 240 years, it is our honour to welcome America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, to join the rest of us here on skid row. DM
Photo: Police escort thousands of protesters as they march up Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower to protest against President-elect Donald Trump, in Manhattan, New York, New York, USA, 12 November 2016. President-elect Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States of America to serve from 2017 through 2020. EPA/KEVIN HAGEN