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Trump’s new world order, family and tribes – Part 3

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[FILE] US President Donald Trump speaks about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a meeting with Republican lawmakers and cabinet members on tax cuts at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM


The discourse in the Trump era is unlike that in any other administration, course, false, efforts to make up for false statements and disjointed amidst a chaotic policy framework. Trump sets the tone, as demonstrated when he referred to Omarosa, as a dog, a term he has used on other people. False statements started almost from day one when his spokesman, Sean Spicer claimed that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest ever despite clear photographic evidence showing that to be false.

Trump’s lies have become main-stream to his Republican base who use them as talking points and in repudiating arguments by their opponents. Kellyanne Conway, a senior Whitehouse staff member coined a new term “alternative facts” for false statements. Most recently his Lawyer Rudi Giuliani has stated that “truth isn’t truth” with regards to the Mueller enquiry. In this chaotic administration, Trump, White House staff, government departments, outside and Republican congress supporters frequently make conflicting statements and/or are often corrected by the White House or the boss himself.

Policy is often announced for the first time through Trump’s Twitter feed or his favourite media, Fox News without coordination with the relevant department or staff member. This dysfunction can have significant implications, for example nobody knows exactly what Trump said or promised in his recent one-to-one meeting with Putin, Comey, the FBI director was fired while attending a conference and the Director of Intelligence heard about Trump’s decision to hold a second meeting with Putin from the media also, while at a conference.

Trump unlike Obama is not an analytical President; rather he prides himself as the gut-feeling man, a mind-set that is reflected in his climate, economic and geo-political policies and actions. His rejection of the climate agreement refuted evidence by most scientists and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been undoing Obama’s policies and rules ignoring robust scientific evidence. He has sacked and/or refused to consult eminent experts, buried or ignored unpalatable findings. His tax cuts based on the flawed supply side premise, have failed to address the issues that should be paramount and indeed have exacerbated them. His trade policies are particularly worrisome at a time when world trade, investment and production are becoming ever more integrated as noted by Kemal Davis and Caroline Conroy of the Brooking Institute, who in their in a recent paper stated that “in less than a decade, it will be huge world markets, that allocates capital finance, and skilled labour”.

Indeed that is already happening in which case, Trump is acting like a modern day Luddite rather than trying to work out the best way America can harness this transition particularly as American companies are leading players in the process. His tariff wars have not looked at the issue in an analytical way but just taken a sledge hammer to deal with a very complex issue. He has made a big thing about his meetings with the North Korean and Russian leaders but very little preparations were made prior to those meetings which have ended up as mere photo opportunities that benefited those despots. Trump’s antipathy to analysis is the reason why he got rid of his highly intellectual National Security Adviser, McMaster and has failed to recruit, attract and keep high calibre staff.

Nowhere is this dysfunction in the administration more evident than in science. In a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists which surveyed scientists in 16 agencies the group noted that the Trump administration’s “record on science policy is abysmal with significant challenges in the use of science to protect the public from environmental and public threats” and that the administration has been “undermining long-established processes for science to inform public policy.” The Trump administration’s staffing of its science policy unit is a fraction of the level under Obama and even lower than under G H Bush and it has introduced censorship in government documents and websites. The current top ranking official in the unit is a 31 year old with a bachelor degree in political science. This is a sharp departure from the Obama administration in social and scientific policy process as Ros Haskins and Greg Margolis, in their book, Show me the Evidence, documented the fight by the Obama administration for rigour and results in social policy.

Trump has outsourced much of the actual development of policies and selection of officials to Republican organisations and individuals because he lacks the analytical capability and interest and has not recruited enough staff to do the groundwork. This outsourcing of policy has given huge opportunities to outside interests in his tribes. Outside vested interests have had significant input on tax, environmental, immigration, education, religious policies and the selection of key staff members as never before. The influence of outside vested interest is making policy more ideologically driven with a huge dose of conspiracy theory thrown in and there have been management issues, hence the chaotic Trump policymaking process.

While Trump remains very popular in his tribes, his rants and policies are full of ironies verging on the perverse. He constantly rails against China but his 2020 presidential campaign materials are being made in that country, his company and daughter are benefiting from licences awarded in China and his investment in Indonesia has been boosted by huge capital from China. He has taken a hard stand against immigration and wants to end “chain migration” which allows US citizens to sponsor their relatives, claiming that he only wants highly qualified migrants. His company was granted permits for foreign workers soon after he took office. His grandfather, mother, and wife’s parents recently granted American citizenships recently, and wife’s sister have benefited from “chain migration.”
To be continued tomorrow.
Rogers is principal consultant at Media and Event Management, Oxford, United Kingdom.


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