Ever since Donald Trump became the U.S. president I hoped I never had to write an essay about him. That was until Charlottesville recent Saturday. The weekend of the 12th and 13th of August shocked me. I am still disgusted.
There are more important topics to write about. North Korea is a risk, the Middle East is not stable and the E.U. is coping with the Brexit and the influx of immigrants and refugees without a solid plan. The U.K. dug itself a hole it cannot get out of and has to negotiate a deal to survive economically hostile neighbours, the actual E.U. The U.S. is dealing with all kinds of issues right now after making a mess out of healthcare just after getting it partly right with Obama. Seriously this is just the start.
I do not have to write about this. I am Dutch and I can look away and ignore most of this. Thing is I cannot forgive myself if I hold my silence. This is beyond terrible. In 1945 the Nazis were finally defeated. 72 years later alt-right neo-nazis and other militant nationalists march on U.S. streets to protest “peacefully” with sticks and shields. They use violence, kill someone and Trump does not say a thing. “Violence on many sides” means nothing. The U.S. president is too much of a coward to deal with alt-right neo–nazis and militant nationalists. Have we not learnt from history? Seriously?
Back to Charlottesville and Donald Trump. I feel like swearing but that is simply useless now. Ever since the campaign got off to steam Trump had the habit to stir up controversy. Everything for publicity and that worked out well. After the “Grab them by the …” I was done. I felt like ignoring Trump and hoping the U.S. democrats would get their Sanders on. Yeah I thought Clinton did not really have a strong message. She did not really connect with the people somehow.
Then Trump was elected and the controversies intensified. It did not help that Trump liked adding fuel to the fire for his own amusement. I mean that. He reminds me of the school yard bully who only wants to be popular. You want to be popular, fine but the moment you enter politics choices have real world consequences. It took a while for Trump to understand that. That “while” was a luxury he did not have. The president of the U.S. is not just a head of state, but also a world leader and one of the most influential people on earth.
When you start digging a bit you quickly find out that Trump enjoyed quite some support from right-wing organisations. Okay, that is fine. People can choose who inspires them. Besides that though it is scary that an organisation like the current KKK is so connected to Trump. Trump as the current president represents all his citizens. Yet he alienated many people during his campaign and in the recent months.
This alienation extended also to C.E.O.s and business leaders of the American economy. After Trump withdrew from the Paris (climate) Agreement that led to criticism. In the aftermath of Charlottesville some C.E.O.s from his advisory boards directly left citing Trump’s inability to condemn racism and the alt-right neo-nazis. That is not something minor. When a head of state has bad relationships with the business leaders in his or her country, that is a seriously bad sign.
One of my specific interests, when looking things up from history is failed heads of state and failed leaders. There are plenty of examples and their stories are fascinating. From ancient times to the 21st century you can find who they were and what happened. Julius Caesar failed, Nero failed, Louis the 16th from France, the last Tsar of Russia and so on. It is rare though to find someone there who genuinely disgusts me.
Then you look at the examples in history of heads of state and leaders who did well. Once you do that you can make two lists: good qualities and bad qualities. When you think about a head of state you keep in mind that he or she at least has an advisor or team of trusted people to consult. Even then when the head of state is very individualistic sometimes he or she makes unusual decisions.
One key quality most successful heads of states have in general is the ability to unite people. Sure not everyone has to agree, but when necessary everybody contributes a difficult task is taken care of. Think of national defence, employment and civil rights for starters. Campaigns to increase popularity (including election campaigns) can be inclusive but do not always have the goal to unite all people.
Something you see with Trump time and time again is his ability to divide people. In a business environment that ability can help to target the next potential customer or to find the next talented employee. In politics that ability is dangerous. Especially in a society that is charged and changing. Talking badly about Mexicans, speaking in a certain way about women and recently his initial refusal to address the alt-right neo-nazis. This is becoming dangerous.
Let me end with an anecdote. Sometimes in hospitality you have stereotypes. A thing that sometimes happened was the phrase “sorry, I’m American” and we would laugh it away. Now in 2017 I cannot laugh about it any more. I am disgusted with what has happened to a country that I used to kind of admire. The history of the U.S. is pretty awesome in some aspects.
Next time you say “sorry, I’m American” I will just say “it’s okay” and walk off. Do not bother me with asking me why I do not smile. My answer would be “explain Trump” while I hide my disgust behind a mask of “how may I help you?”
Your president defended neo-nazis marching on the street. I am too disgusted by that fact alone…