Donald Trump: a Blunt Instrument in the Operating Theatre of Politics

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Where most Western leaders approach situations with a certain amount of foresight, President Donald J. Trump barges in, no different than the Wall Street Bull of recent interest in the press. The political stage is Trump’s china shop.

Trump’s approach does not influence people, nor make him friends, but to Trump supporters—it’s gold. What continues to drive Trump’s roughshod approach to problem solving and why do Trump supporters continue to cling to the proverbial wall he has built around all reason?

Donald Trump supporters are not necessarily racist or fascist, they are simply fanatics, no different from the adoring crowds hanging from the rafters at Toronto’s Maple Gardens in 1964 when the Beatles first arrived. Trump stirs the pot, relies on his fans to prop him up whenever he encounters any presidential setback, becoming his proverbial posse. He riles them up, then “pumps them up”, encouraging them to rage against the machine of privileged politics that Trump, in a twist of irony, now operates. But most of all Trump makes his fans feel as though he is giving them a voice. He channels them.

A word about voices, they don’t need to be informed or rational, they simply need to be loud. Trump speaks without thinking, and this knee-jerk spontaneity is the very thing his supporters love. Like Toronto’s ex-mayor Rob Ford, Trump says what’s on his mind. No filter. He shakes his fist at lightning and curses the thunder. He promises a better life, a better plan. No details, but trust it will be wonderful.

In short, President Trump provides simple solutions to complex issues that most people don’t want to think about. As a society we often opt for the “don’t confuse me with the details…just get it done” mentality, the downloadable Trump app where the solution for immigration is to build a wall, it worked for China, it will work for us. The solution to terrorism is to ban Muslims. The solution to the initial stayed Muslim Travel ban is to simply patch it like a Windows upgrade, promising the new version will be better than the original.

“Trump is a firm believer that if all you have is a hammer, the entire world becomes a nail…”

Style it in a dress and a football cleats and send it out a second time, only for it to be stayed, a second time. Healthcare? In Trump’s own words, “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated?” Well, Mr. President, Obama knew, as did every person who took the time to review the legislation. Trump’s attempt to “immediately repeal and replace” Obamacare failed, along with this signature plank in his campaign platform.

Trump is a firm believer that if all you have is a hammer, the entire world becomes a nail.

President Trump’s next challenge among many is the Syrian civil war. People are dying at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad who is bent on the use of chemical weapons (déjà vu), and is backed by political powers as big and as fierce as the United States.

Civilian Trump had made his position clear in a slew of tweets to then President Obama, and the American public in regard to Syria. “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.” Perhaps it was the new view from the Oval Office, perhaps maybe his heart grew three sizes that day when he saw the photographs of the carnage in Syria, we’ll never know exactly what changed Donald Trump’s mind, but on April 6, 2017, he sent a barrage of 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles to pour down on select targets in Syria.

The sky rained fire that night. Others might call it justice. Either way it rained, and it rained hard. A week later, on April 13th, Trump dropped the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast or Mother of All Bombs) on an ISIS stronghold in Afghanistan.

One again asks if there was a plan at work or even an overall strategy. There is no doubt we are dealing with an emotional president, but is that what’s called for in a crisis situation? What became of Trump’s “America First” doctrine? How far is Trump prepared to go in Syria now that this first shot has echoed around the world and then some.

Although Western leaders and Americans have lauded Trump’s short-term response to the Syrian issue, and perhaps even his recent Afghanistan response, adulation is often short-lived. The biggest and most important question is this: Whether or not this “presidency” thing is a job for a blunt instrument such as Trump?


Originally Published April 11, 2017