Sunday, December 27, 2015
What is the meaning of “make America great again”? , the Trump campaign slogan. How do you measure whether America is less great than it was before and then the question becomes what would a President Trump do to our greatness?
But polls and metrics are not what is driving Donald Trump’s strength among 40% of GOP voters, no matter what outrageous statements he makes. Certainly media coverage of Muslim mass shootings in San Bernardino and Paris and lack of coverage of US and allies’ progress in taking back ISIS held land are proof to those who support him that the US is in decline and we need to be strong again.
How? . Pumping up military muscle? Repeating failed invasions? Reviving verbal power slinging ugly Americans so we generate fear but not respect? Banning Muslims visitors and immigrants, putting Muslims on enemies lists, and his anti-Hispanic immigrant policies no doubt comfort and reassure the angry and the fearful in the US.
How can we measure of how great the US is in the eyes of the world? .A June 24, 2015 poll conducted by Pew Research of attitudes in 40 countries concluded “Globally, Obama’s image is mostly positive. Across the 40 countries polled, a median of 65% say they have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Overall, Obama remains much more popular globally than his predecessor, but opinions vary significantly across nations and regions.” So whose greatness is Trump trying to restore and in whose eyes? Certainly not Obama’s predecessors or in the eyes of world opinion
The two areas where Obama’s popularity has declined are Russia and Israel (poll was taken in the midst of the Iran nuclear deal negotiations). Only President Putin of Russia came to Trump’s defense recently and Trump returned the compliment. However, most understand that Putin’s total control of the press and the reins of governmental power and his aggression in the Ukraine are not in American traditions or our Constitution. There is an old saying: “by his friends, we will know him”.
What about our closest allies in Europe? Pew concludes “Western Europeans are still big Obama fans... When Obama entered the White House, his ratings were extremely high, and they’ve only slipped a little since then. At least a majority has confidence in him in each Western European country surveyed…” Still, there is disappointment with Obama in the region on certain issues, such as climate change. The poll was taken before the Paris global warming summit. High on the list , per Pew, is admiration of the US for personal freedoms. This poll does not reflect the recent “ban Muslims” or anti-immigrant proposals put forth by some GOP candidates, including Trump.
How would a Trump presidency restore this metric of greatness ? The foreign backlash, expressing disappointment in Trump’s willingness to discriminate on the basis of religion with his ban Muslim rhetoric has been so severe that he had to cancel trips to Jordan and Israel and petitions banning him from the UK also received a quick and impressive response.
We can only imagine what a Pew Poll taken a year into a Trump presidency would look like. It would not be very great.