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The Tests Ahead for Trump

By       Message John Chuckman       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   15 comments

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A sign at the Women's March on Washington to protest the election of Donald Trump. January 21, 2017.
A sign at the Women's March on Washington to protest the election of Donald Trump. January 21, 2017.
(Image by (Photo: Chelsea Gilmour))
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The chance for greatness is not something offered every leader. The opportunity requires both a set of extremely adverse circumstances and an exceptional person in power who overcomes them.

All too briefly, Barack Obama seemed to have the chance in 2008, but he very quickly proved himself incapable of rising to the challenge. So, Obama goes down in history, despite his remarkable achievement of becoming the first black President, as an extremely mediocre leader who was bent by the very forces he should have controlled.

He almost melted away before our eyes, proving definitively that there is a great difference between the talents required for political campaigning and those required for success in office.

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Donald Trump now has an opportunity for greatness, more so than any politician I can recall. He is faced with huge problems, many of the them the work of the failed Obama, and they are more than just any set of problems, for they involve the deaths and misery of millions and the risks of an international nuclear holocaust.

It is already clear that Trump has the strengths required -- immensely energetic and hard-working, absolutely not intimidated by a powerful and pervasive establishment, and a surprisingly resourceful mind. But there are clouds on the horizon.

Trump is one of those people whose mind seems to crackle with ideas and notions, and, just as is the case with others of this type, including many famous scientists and creative talents, a fair number of the ideas and notions are not worth pursuing and some are complete rubbish. I put into this category notions like a national Muslim registry or the round-up and deportation of millions of Mexican illegals or crippling the United Nations.

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I would certainly add Trump's words around the utterly repulsive subject of torture, but here we find an example of Trump being really clever, showing the kind of skill a statesman must possess. With his words on torture, Trump got to tell the belly-over-belt segment of his followers that he will do literally anything for dear old America, but he then played the game of deferring to the wisdom of one of his most intelligent appointments, General James Mattis, who opposes torture. Who can argue with a "Marine's Marine" on such topics?

Some Bad Ideas

Trump's wall with Mexico for me is neither here nor there. Lots of countries build walls, and while I am opposed to them in general, I recognize the arguments for them, and of course every country has the right to protect its borders.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. Dec. 16, 2015
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a hangar at Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona. Dec. 16, 2015
(Image by (Flickr Gage Skidmore))
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But you cannot round up and deport millions, even if they are illegals, without great adverse consequences. It is a non-starter as an idea. What we have is a situation created by the ineffectiveness of past governments over many years. That is a reality you must accept unless you want to create, to put it mildly, one of the worst public relations fiascos of the century.

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Remember, we live in the age of cell phone videos and the Internet, an entirely different situation than what prevailed the last time America did the very thing Trump is proposing, roughly 90 years ago. Not many Americans likely realize that there was a precedent. Starting in 1929 and for some years after, huge numbers of Mexicans -- estimated to have been between half a million and two million -- living in America were deported summarily.

It is not a precedent to copy, smelling as it does of activities we associate with the fascist governments of that same dark period. It is something that cannot even be done without many extremely unhappy scenes.

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John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason, and concern for human decency. John regards (more...)
 

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