Disclaimer: Arab Millennial (AM) is an information network. It does not have any political affiliation nor does it endorse any particular political party. Rather, AM’s objective is to provide information based on our analysis.
With thanks to the rest of the AM team – Adam Gamaz, Shatha Sbeta and Linda Wesson – for their inputs into this press release.
It may come as little surprise to our followers and stakeholders that Arab Millennial (AM) does not endorse the ascension of Donald Trump as President-elect of the United States:
“AM views President-elect Donald Trump as extremely problematic, not only for his misogynist rhetoric, targeting of vulnerable minority groups, and proud and open mocking of the disabled community, but also for his inconsistent plans for America and the world at large.”
1. Policy Problems
AM recognises the following inconsistencies in Donald Trump’s policies:
1. a) Climate Change
Despite years of extremely reliable scientific evidence, Trump claims that:
“[t]he concept of global warming was created by the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.
Trump – a businessman with business interests – has also stated that he would withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement within 100 days of office; the deal’s ambitious goal of slowing the increase in average temperatures to 2° is now in immediate threat.
1. b) Expertise
Trump not only disregards an entire scientific community, but also claims to hold a special and unique insight into minority-group issues in the Western hemisphere. He assumes that the whole intellectual community hasn’t figured out what the “problem” is with Mexican and Muslim migrants, and that he is somehow aware of what experts who have been qualified in political analysis for years on end are not aware of. This is another paradigmatic example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect: when an individual does not yet have the intellectual maturity to realise that they know very little about a surprisingly vast, deep and complex subject area.
1. c) Immigration
Related, Trump, a US citizen of partial Scottish descent, married to a woman of Slovenian descent, claims to believe that immigration is generally more problematic than beneficial. However, given his background, it’s clear that Trump doesn’t have a problem with immigration in general. In fact, almost all US citizens are either migrants or descendents of migrants. Rather, Trump has a problem with a specific group of migrants (i.e. Mexican and Muslim migrants).
Trump believes that capping immigration is instrumental to making America “great again”; but the America Trump is nostalgic over was founded on immigration. Trump is therefore romanticising a distant and censored version of US history which in fact involved the targeting and displacement of Native Americans.
1. d) Economy
Trump expects Mexico to pay for a wall that America wants to build, thereby dividing the two nations. Trump also promises tax cuts as he believes in meritocracy; yet he wants to fund mental health services as he blames gun crime on poor mental health. It’s inconceivable why any President would want to cut taxes and simultaneously increase government expenditure in a country already riddled with approx. $13 trillion debt (approx. 125% of GDP).
1. e) Gun Legislation
It’s equally paradoxical that Trump doesn’t give the same amount of nuance when he considers minority-group violence and the so-called “Muslim problem”. Whilst blaming white gun crime on poor mental health, Trump provides no critical analysis on why violent Islamism occurs. He does not openly recognise a single role for the destabilisation of the Middle East by the US and others, as well as domestic minority-group isolation, in the rise of Islamist extremism. Trump only applies nuance and analysis when it suits his political oration.
AM believes that all violence is complex and cannot be pinned down to a single cause – although it suits human nature to simplify causal relationships so that we feel that a solution is in sight. Everybody – including the perpetrators themselves – must share their part and responsibility in the rise of violence. It is everybody’s battle.
1. f) Militarisation
This brings us to our final point: Trump wants to withdraw funds from Obamacare to subsidise the US military. This places the military institution at a higher priority than free and equal healthcare for all American citizens. At the same time, Trump wants to withdraw from foreign countries – but there will still be US military bases across the world that he simply can’t disassemble overnight. In sum, we ask: why is Trump militarising an already highly-militarised nation if he claims that Americans are already too involved in global and domestic conflict?
Further, militarisation, bundled with Trump’s “us versus them” narrative, may fuel further Islamist extremism at home and abroad. Although this does not excuse or justify extremist behaviour in any way, Trump must share some of the responsibility – along with the perpetrators themselves – for fueling this behaviour. Whilst we take a middle and critical stance on the issue, Trump believes that analysts who provide nuance on the issue of Islamist extremism are making excuses for the Muslims community and not accepting facts. Incidentally, Trump does exactly this – he pools responsibility away from the American government when he blames the perils of the US economy on immigration.
2. How did Trump Win?
There are many reasons why a large proportion of eligible US voters may have voted for Trump. For example, this could be demonstrative of either a backlash against Clinton who is also highly problematic (think the Benghazi incident), or as a response to 8 years of Obama’s domestic policy reforms (Obamacare) and foreign policy reforms (expansion of drone strikes).
The ascension of Trump could also be a continuation of the momentum instilled by Brexit on the other side of the Atlantic, marking the end of neoliberalism as the dominant global narrative. The Christian-right in America finally feel that they have a leader after 8 years of suspicion surrounding Obama’s religious beliefs and “ethnic priorities” – not that religious beliefs should play a role in determining the leader of any country that prides itself of its secularism.
3. What Next?
AM believes that it is extremely disheartening that a superpower of a population of around 320 million – which has been home to some of the smartest and most integrative and cosmopolitan minds of our generation (think Steve Jobs, Noam Chomsky and Bill Gates) – should come to a position where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the only two viable candidates for presidential election.
It appears that the outcome of the electoral race reflects the character traits that are required from individuals who aspire to climb up political ranks. Without careful Machiavellianism, one can face backlash from media outlets and political counterparts on the right of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, those on the right of the political spectrum are often large donors or powerful lobby groups (the NRA or AIPAC) that can leverage power.
Therefore, the problem is deeper than Trump and deeper than Hillary; there is an endemic problem within a US political system that values and promotes insincere and inconsistent orators, and this should be addressed not by focusing on Trump per se, but by being introspective and evaluating our own power structures and political mechanisms across the globe.