Sophia Zhu ‘18
Despite the bitterness of his protestors, Trump is still the winner in the first round of this domestic political struggle. From climate change to the border wall, he seems to be keeping his promises so far — at least nominally. No matter how hard the other side is fighting against him and his astonishing policies, the only important thing to his supporters is that he can still be portrayed as a bold game-changer standing up for their interests.
To the disappointment of many previous optimists, Trump continues on his path without even the smallest desire to reconcile with those who disapprove of his approaches. The trick to gaining the upper hand is to only focus on tangible, short-term threats and completely ignore the abstract, long-term costs. With this simple rule in mind, he would hardly lose his supporters who actually have every self-conceived good reason to back him up. His popularity will not be lowered no matter how hard the protestors try. Demands can be diverse, but fear is always universal.
To compare what is seen with what can’t be seen is surely meaningless. For example, people can easily feel the imminent threats of globalization. Coal miners lost their jobs because the demand kept shrinking as renewable energies gained competitiveness. Companies outsourced work to factories in China, Mexico or India, which forced Americans to buy foreign-made products. Along this line of logic, technological progress is also detrimental to the U.S. economy, as robotization and artificial intelligence “steal” jobs from human employees, driving up unemployment and then crime rates in many communities.
As is clearly reflected in Trump’s unprecedented inauguration speech, his goal as the U.S. president is merely to take back what belongs to America — the number-one country in the world — from immigrants, refugees, environmentalists, foreign trade competitors and many others. He introduces a new historical view of America by downplaying its achievements and mourning its downfall. On one hand, he points to the problems that indeed exist in some communities, a smart strategy to make people believe that he empathizes with them. But on the other hand, he cunningly leads people to forget that it is exactly globalization and technological innovations that have made the U.S. “great.” Globalization has brought American inventions, such as the Internet, new energies and new medicines to every corner of the world, bringing a great amount of wealth and unmatchable reputation. American values — the openness, creativity and inclusiveness — together with its cultural products like Hollywood films, pop songs and Starbucks coffee have attracted people from all over the world to visit, learn from and even contribute to this country. This all became possible thanks to free trade, the free flow of the work force and above all, globalization. But it seems people have forgotten where they came from.
President Trump pointed out the concrete problems, but unfortunately he failed to identify the right solution. Going back to the age of isolationism by holding up “Buy American, Hire America” is not an option. But it echoes the nostalgia of the good old days that is deep down in many people’s hearts. The faint hope of going back was rekindled when the president called for the travel ban, insisted the construction of the wall and slammed political correctness — no matter how absurd these approaches may seem to many.
A fear of terrorism dwarfs the injustice of religious discrimination. The cost of climate protection outweighs the catastrophe lying ahead and the downside of globalization shadows long-term economic wellbeing. The invisible can never defeat the visible, regardless of where the truth lies.
With the protests going on, it is important to admit that Trump is still winning as long as he pleases his supporters all over the country. They could be voiceless but they are the ones who have formed a strong base that pushed someone like Trump to one of the most powerful positions in the nation. One big reason why the Democrats failed is described by the “bubble theory,” explaining that they were detached from the people and their real demands. They shall not fall into the same trap by refusing to reason with those who do not share with their opinions. By seeking a way to reconcile the invisible with the visible, it is yet to be determined whether this hard fight will last four or eight years.