By Yvonne Sam
Donald John Trump is not the nation’s foremost problem, not even when Irma has wreaked her havoc and left. If only it were as easy as replacing one man, or even riding out two terms to resolve the US’s grievances to the end. Notwithstanding what faces the country is more than that, and will require more work and effort.
Let there be no modicum of misunderstanding, Donald Trump placed an indelible stain on his tenure when he hesitated in his initial reaction to marchers shouting “Sieg Heil” and “Jews will not replace us”.
His first condemnation of the “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides” asserted a moral equivalency where there was none.
Three days later, he doubled down by placing “blame on both sides”, and then attempted to convince a large crowd in Phoenix that those responses were appropriate — by pulling the written statements out of his pocket and reading, selectively, what he had actually said.
However, even the blatantly myopic or profoundly optimistic can see that America’s problems run much deeper than any one individual person.
Herein lies the crux of the problem, the eye of the storm — a major point overlooked by even Trump’s harshest critics, who are so zealous in their opposition they delude themselves into thinking that his removal from office will serve as a cure-all.
More and more they speak of invoking the 25th Amendment’s never-used remedy to remove a president, who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.
Such conversations will reach deafening levels when Bandy Lee, a Yale forensic psychiatrist and editor of the upcoming book: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, speaks out about Trump’s dangerousness, along with 27 mental health professionals, who have also contributed to the book, and feel that the President is a clear and present danger to the nation, on account of his mental illness.
In the interim, Psychiatrist Allen Frances is also coming out with another book, Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump. No good comes from mental-health professionals diagnosing a patient they have never met, much less examined. Just think of the precedent that will set.
While getting rid of the President might provide a short term balm for some wounds, (or so some think), on the other hand, in no way would it heal the deep alienation in the nation.
On the contrary, it might further alienate a significant part of the country that is still not ready for anger management. There is already signs of some splintering among the 46 percent of voters who helped put him in office.
While there are some who now say they are embarrassed by his conduct as president, he still has the support of most of those who voted for him, and for many, that faith is unshakable.
So here we are, confronted with an enormous disconnect, and it is not just about President Trump, but also the issues that are unfolding on his watch.
Believe it or not, but in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville, a Survey Poll showed that 87 percent of Republicans agreed with his assessing blame on “both sides” of that violence. However, let us not amalgamate President Trump’s initial Charlottesville statements with an endorsement of the Nazi marchers themselves. The latter are irreversible beyond recall.
We need to figure out a way to reach the others as they still remain our neighbours. I am not addressing the torch-carrying racists, but instead those who voted for the President out of a sense of desperation that the American dream was on its last breath — the many non-college-educated white males, who are insecure by a changing demographic, job loss, and who deeply feel the brunt of income inequality.
Where the Democratic Party failed to offer hope to this formerly reliable constituency, Trump was able to fill the vacuum by criticizing trade deals and immigration policy, when, in fact, they have lost stature, due to dual forces of technology and globalization.
The immense challenge to be faced is in attempting to reengage core supporters of the president in a national conversation, based solely on evidence, not emotion — a conversation, based on reality not sentimentality.
That will call for a less patronizing attitude from the left and no more lumping of them with the worst elements of the alt-right.
However, it will take much more than the overthrow of Donald Trump for that to happen. It will call for the driving of a wedge between them and the instigators, on whom they are immensely reliant for their news and information. Once that is fixed, the nation is better suited for the long term.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is a symptom of what sickens and distresses us, but his exit from office — whenever that will take place — will not signal the end of domestic estrangement.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.