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Trump's Tone Has Become More Conciliatory - But Don't Be Fooled, It Could Just Be Political Expediency

14/11/2016 13:29

Trump's shock election victory has sent the world in a spin. He must be revelling in the global spotlight as he sits at the top of Trump tower in his penthouse suite, while the US breaks out in mass protests and demonstrations. His post election speech was surprisingly magnanimous. The stock markets soared. Obama described their meeting as 'excellent'. Was Obama being disingenuous or was he exercising some shrewd political expediency of his own to ensure that his legacy was not completely obliterated. Seems to have worked a little, Trump has now said he would reform, not completely overturn, Obamacare and prosecuting defeated Hillary Clinton isn't a priority either. At least his tax affairs and other scams are being investigated - he's currently embroiled in a litany of lawsuits.

Millions voted for him and more voted against. The US is divided, one half favouring the old neoliberal world order and the other wants seismic change.

To catalogue all the things Trump says he's going to do reads like a horror story - and he has a propensity to change his mind.

Trump says he wants to create jobs, improve infrastructure and address immigration. Technological advances mean that some jobs will no longer exist. Robots will do them instead. The whole idea of work and employment needs a radical rethink. A job for life is a thing of the past.

His plans to revoke the Paris accords on climate change and favour more gas and coal exploration at the expense of the environment is a step backwards. Who is going to take the lead now? China?

Regarding immigration, swathes of them are usurping neighbourhoods. Assimilation has failed. Case in point Bradford. The indigenous white British citizen wants to preserve something that could be lost forever, proclaiming they are nativists not racists. Perhaps that's what Trump supporters feel too, what it means to be American is under threat. But nothing justifies hate or race crimes either. Fervent nationalism isn't the answer.

The white man is an ageing demographic with a low birth rate, which will lead to labour shortages in the long-term without immigrants. This is why post war Britain invited people over the first place, to do the required jobs at a low wage. Maybe they were expected to bugger off rather than make a permanent home in Britain. If Trump and May curb immigration, do they assume that indigenous white folk will jump at the chance of doing jobs that are often perceived as the lowest of the low instead? Trump himself is the son of a German immigrant. He's one of the success stories. Maybe if you are a rich, educated and successful immigrant you are welcome; the rest can go home, especially the insalubrious ones.

With immigration people want to climb the social ladder - it's natural, and yet somehow seen as a travesty. There are some who embrace what it means to be American or British others remain detached or ambivalent - because without the white skin it's always going to be a barrier. Look at Obama, his American credentials were questioned, Farage referred to him as that 'creature' - which was dehumanising. Is Trump and the rejection of a far more capable candidate in Hillary Clinton, the backlash for daring to elect a black president twice?

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What are the implications for minorities in a Trump governed US? Drawing of Somali boy featured in Avenues, 2007 (pencil on paper)

The pursuit of a better life though comes at a cost. Not everyone is entitled to it, there is a hierarchy now and white folk are the priority, the rest can go to the back of the queue.

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Drawing of Bangladeshi girl wearing a scarf, featured in Connecting Kids, 2007 (pencil on paper)

The demarcation lines between communities have become extreme, there are some that don't want to mix and that is not specific to America. Often people mutually tolerate. Sticking to your own is nothing new. Even if Trump shuts the doors and expels millions of immigrants there will still be many left behind and the same issues will remain. He may have modified his tone for now, but his rhetoric has consolidated division and legitimised invective. It might have always been there simmering under the surface, now its ok to express antipathy under Trump's watch.

Alan Greenspan said that Trump was an actor and could potentially settle down when in office. The markets have not taken a tumble, even the pound has crept up against the dollar. Why because certain industries will benefit from a Trump leadership: pharmaceutical firms, arms manufacturers, fossil fuel firms, the construction, prison and the banking industries. (The checks that were put in place to curb banks' reckless behaviour could be dismantled under Trump).

How will the masses benefit? Tax cuts will help them directly and the super rich, too. But then there will be less in the coffers to pay for his grand Keynesian public works programmes. The rich will definitely get richer under Trump.

People say Trump is an antidote to the old corrupt, rich, mendacious political elite. Yet Trump is old, corrupt, rich and blatantly mendacious, so how will he differ? He won't.

Trump has currently muted his rhetoric out of expediency, maybe because he realises that this is no longer entertainment, but how long can he restrain himself before he fires off one of his inflammatory tweets?

Minority groups are afraid of what is happening in the US while Isis and right wing groups are gleeful. The world is nervous. Putin has found a new pal in Trump, Will Trump exploit the enormous power he now has with a Republican House and Senate and the supreme court (likely to have a Republican far right bias for years to come)? He's a macho politician like Putin, it won't be long before he tries to exercise his muscle. There are those saying we have to make the best of it like Boris Johnson. But this is no time for complacency. Trump has access to the nuclear codes for god's sake

As an artist, a woman and an ethnic minority, the least I can do is speak out for universal principles: tolerance, fairness and equality. But even before Trump's election I don't think the world was that fair, tolerant or equal, it's just become a lot worse overnight.

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