Warning: today’s column contains political opinions. If you’re busy hiding under a political rock, don’t read on…
I didn’t watch President Trump’s inauguration speech on Friday, because I had a dozen better things to be doing. But I did watch a recording of it later.
All through his campaign, Trump has successfully tapped into unspoken opinions that run under some aspects of the American psyche. He would make a masterful AdWords manager, understanding exactly what to say to get maximum click through rates.
Still, a good AdWords manager knows it isn’t just about clicks. It’s also about conversions and profits. How many of Trump’s statements will ever see the light of day is questionable.
I had a look at Trump’s infamous Twitter feed yesterday. He tweets about four or five times a day, which to me feels like a lot for someone who should have bigger things to think about. Most of his tweets are menial drivel about what he’s doing right now, followed by MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN (in capitals). The remainder of his tweets are childish outbursts against people or agencies who have crossed him.
It’s like scrolling through the Twitter feed of a self-absorbed teenager.
I have American readers on this list. And just between us, I’d really like to know – when exactly did America stop being great? Donald never seems to say.
The thing that struck me about Trump’s speech (and it has to be said, all of his speeches) is the insular, inward-looking nature of it all. Strengthen the military. Re-fortify borders. Screw everyone else.
As a non-American who has visited America in the last year, I can tell you that getting through America’s border controls is already an ordeal.
It isn’t just America. This wave of nationalism is happening everywhere – partly a result of opportunism. People on the whole feel disengaged from the political process, and right wing extremists have seized the initiative. In Britain we’ve had the right-wing Tory Brexiters, who have mostly melted into the background since the vote went their way. In France, Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, is now one of the leading politicians.
And of course we have Vladimir Putin in Russia, the tsar-elect.
One impression you get from looking at Trump’s Twitter feed is his deep obsession with the present. He isn’t interested in history. Which is too bad, because if you wind the clock back 100 years, the international political landscape wasn’t a whole lot different.
We don’t need stronger nation states. Strong nation states are prone to extreme stupidity and pointless violence.
Call me unpatriotic, but I don’t happen to think of myself as British. I’m a person, who happens to live in Britain most of the time. Besides, what is Britain, anyway? Great Britain was a marriage of convenience between England and Scotland, created in 1707 to keep the catholic Stuarts in exile.
If you go back further in time, you’ll find that Britain always was built on immigration. Take this axe for example, which was preserved in a swamp on the Scottish island of Lewis.
It dates to around 3000BC, but the axe head came from County Antrim, in Northern Ireland. The ancient farming communities of the Outer Hebrides were, it seems, internationally connected.
This chap is known as the Amesbury Archer. He was buried near Stonehenge around 2300BC.
Tests on his bones reveal he came to Stonehenge from The Alps. And he didn’t just travel from the Alps to Stonehenge; he also brought an influx of ideas with him. He’s the first corpse found in the UK to be buried with worked metal.
Britain always has been great. America always has been great. We don’t need to make anything ‘GREAT AGAIN’ (in capitals), and certainly not by fostering insularity and pushing people away.
I’m not worried about Donald Trump. But I am worried about what he stands for, who’s behind him, and his apparent ignorance about the past.