By Yvonne Sam
Social and Political Commentator
Although having both resided and being gainfully employed in Great Britain for over 12 years, especially in Woodford, the parliamentary constituency of Sir Winston Churchill, I feel that I have a somewhat slight edge in tackling this issue — taking the dare, to compare the great and their fate.
Despite the fact that Donald Trump is hailed as the most odious individual ever to inhabit the While House, and that he is heading for a political fall, over the building of the wall, Winston Churchill the greatest political leader of the 20th century was also mired in contradiction and complexities, but as politics go, they both have glaring commonalities to show.
But should we dare to compare? Are we saying, in unison, that there is room for comparison?
Both were born into relative opulence. Trump’s father, Frederick Christ Trump, born in New York, was a real estate developer with a net worth of millions, and his mother, Mary Anne McLeod, was born in Scotland and migrated to New York, to start a new life at the age of 18. www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/2922894/the-fascinating-story-of-donald-trumps-scottish-mum.
On a composite note, Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was the 3rd son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough, and his mother, Jennie Spencer, was born in New York City, the daughter of a financier.
She met Lord Randolph during the racing season, in 1873, on the Isle of Wight — one of the great social events of the British summer season. Lord Randolph Churchill fell in love with her at first sight, and in a few months, on April 15, 1874, they became man and wife. At the time she was widely known in New York, Paris and London Society as one of the most beautiful girls of the day. Her American vivacity, beauty and wit assured her of social success in London. www.britannica.com/biography/Jennie-Jerome-Churchill
Both Donald and Winston had a quick rise into politics, Winston despite the political cards being stacked against him, quickly became Prime Minister in 1940, following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain. www.bbc.co.uk/history/events/churchill_becomes_prime_minister. Although Churchill’s appointment as prime minister was not initially welcomed by many of his political colleagues, he did enjoy widespread public support.
Three days after becoming Prime Minister, Winston told the House of Commons that he had “nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”, and set the mood of the nation by declaring the British aim was, “Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival”. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4196084/Churchill-asked-for-victory-at-all-costs-but-the-reality-was-worse.html
In like manner, according to American political pollsters and professional gamblers, a Trump victory was highly improbable and anyone thinking otherwise was considered delusional. Democratic presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, was expected not only to take the White House, but in a really big way. Trump and his supporters were going to be taught an unforgettable lesson, beginning at the polls. In his inaugural speech Trump reiterated his campaign promise to “Make America Great Again”.
Donald Trump describes his late mother as a “terrific woman” and acknowledged inheriting her desire to always be in the limelight. To date, he has not only proven, but further shown true, that the chip does not fall far from the block. In his biography he said, “Looking back, I realize now that I got some of my sense of showmanship from my mother. She always had a flair for the dramatic and the grand. She was a very traditional housewife, but she also had a sense of the world beyond her.” www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-mother-mary-trump-2018-5
It is a well-documented fact that Jennie Churchill loved her eldest son. When Winston was ready to launch his career, his mother pestered everyone she thought could advance it.
In the book, “Philip Eade reviews Jennie Churchill”, by Anne Sebba, the author suggests that Jennie’s love for younger men after the death of Winston’s father, was due to the fact that she did not wish anyone to compete with Winston for her attention. She even interrupted her honeymoon with George Cornwallis-West to assist her son’s election campaign in Oldham. www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/non_fictionreviews/3670257/Winston-Churchills-American-mother.html
Churchill became known as the daredevil Prime Minister, especially for his actions during World War II. As a young First Lord of the Admiralty, he almost single-handedly prepared the fleet for World War I. Then there was his aggressiveness, his willingness to offend and his boastfulness, which he frequently vindicated.
Donald is notorious for his loose lips. His decision to brag, in a Tweet, about the size of his “nuclear button”, compared with that of North Korea, was condemned, worldwide, being deemed bellicose and reckless. www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/03/donald-trump-boasts-nuclear-button-bigger-kim-jong-un. The comments are part of a larger pattern of odd, and often alarming, behavior for a person in the nation’s highest office. Trump’s grandiosity and impulsivity have made him a constant subject of speculation, among those concerned with his mental health.
While we dare to compare virtues and vices, there are some that would need to be deleted in Trump’s case. Churchill was undeniably assertive. He cut corners and intentionally used extravagances and exaggeration for political effect He learned how to write and speak extraordinary well, while his counterpart mastered Tweeting as all can tell.
Both President Trump and Prime Minister Churchill struggled with race relations. After the end of the World War II, Winston Churchill‘s Conservative Party lost the 1945 election,…. “Keep England White” was a good slogan, he told the cabinet in January 1955. crimesofbritain.com/2016/09/13/the-trial-of-winston-churchill/.He also complained about the influx of colored people to Britain, while Trump established a ban on Muslims entering the U. S. www.vox.com/2018/4/27/17284798/travel-ban-scotus-countries-protests.
Churchill, unhappy at Mahatma Gandhi’s participation at the Second Round Table Conference in London in 1931, called him a half-naked, seditious fakir. www.theguardian/2002/nov/28/features11.g.21. He also referred, disparagingly, to Palestinians as “ barbaric hordes, who ate little but camel dung”.
President Donald Trump expressed frustration with people coming to the US from “shithole countries”. Oval Office meeting with lawmakers confirmed Trump asked, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” with reference to Haiti. www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-attacks-protections-for-immigrants-from-
Churchill was a deeply complex man, far from the portrayed simplistic one‐dimensional heroic figure that we have come to know. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is now starring, live, on the world stage, while he amasses his legacy. To capture his complexity, Americans have two more years of observations to bear, then can decide if, in comparison to Sir Winston Churchill, he comes anywhere near.
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.