The Donald is now the official front-runner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Yes I know. So let's suppose that we are to wake up to a nightmare Room 101 scenario on the morning of January 20th 2017 to find that the Donald is being inaugurated as the most powerful man in the world.
It's terrifying to think that a narcissist (based on his tendency to emblazon his name on everything he owns from real estate and his plane to hooded tops) would have his hand on the button. Narcissists need a regular narcissistic supply. If they are not the centre of attention or they are snubbed ie their supply is cut off then they tend to go ballistic. Now, in a normal situation, this is usually no biggie. But when you have your hand on the nuclear button then going ballistic would literally mean the end of the world.
For example, the Donald talks about obliterating ISIS, which energises his base no end. What would this translate into in realpolitik terms? Well, let's suppose that there is a second 9/11 then internment camps for American Muslims plus a nuclear attack on Syria and Iraq would certainly be on the cards. Of course, the list of potential nuclear targets would be longer. So we can safely assume that Iran, North Korea and France would also be on it. In fact, anyone who has ever got in between the Donald and his egomania.
Of course, he wouldn't be the first narcissist to become President. The political world is full of sociopaths - men and women prepared to do the bidding of their lizard overlords for personal gain without a thought for their fellow citizens. Likewise, the corporate and financial universe. Which is why Trump's business background would be ideal preparation for the job of President - an irony missed on his fans, who believe that his business background is an asset. In fact, Trump's vehicle of the American version of The Apprentice tells you all you need to know about his value system and those, who aspire to it. A world of atomised, hyper-individualised beings with zero emotional substrate prepared to deep fat fry their grandmother's liver and climb over the bodies of other contestants in order to win.
As for the assumption that the President has immense executive power, well one look at the Obama presidency tells you all you need to know about that theory. Although I for one do not subscribe to the notion that Obama is weak. He's just not liberal. As Tariq Ali points out in The Obama Syndrome, the man is an arch neoliberal. Hence why he's made it so far. He's just selling a great brand of being black, hip, cool and looking like he cares. Domestic policy has encompassed failure to punish Wall Street for the financial crisis or even impose policies that might force them to cough up for their mass corruption. Obamacare was only given the green light, unlike the Clinton healthcare reforms of the 90s, because it basically meant more money for the insurance industry. All the while, he has pulled off a fantastic performance in rebranding USA PLC after the global PR disaster of the Bush presidency and provided us with some soaring rhetoric along the way. And we have not even got to his foreign policy.
The charge sheet attacking the Obama administration from Trump, the fanatical Fox News and their acolytes is laughably absurd. They contend that Obama's foreign policy has weakened the US empire. The reality has been to extend the Bush White House national security doctrine, escalate the use of extrajudicial killing through drones, clampdown on civil liberties, allow the CIA to escape unscathed from the torture disclosures and failure to close Guantanomo.
The reality of modern day imperial USA is that the power is bottom up and not top down. In other words, power is diffused throughout a nexus of corporate, finance and military-industrial sectors. For example, defence policy-making filters up from the Pentagon, defence firms, intelligence agencies, hi-tech companies and thinktanks. And this is before we even get to the paralysis of Congress in which the days of cross-partisan politics, in the interests of the people, are long over.
So the Donald would quickly find that his powers are curtailed. George W Bush commented that his biggest surprise was finding how little authority he had. The Obama administration was enraged to find that, on coming to power, they were given two options for Afghanistan - either a small or a large surge. They went for the former with an escalation of 30,000 troops.
The Donald would thus find that the NSA and the CIA are dictating national security and foreign policy and his friends on Wall Street are doing the same for domestic policy. And anyone, who thinks they can take on that lot should be reminded of the old Bill Hicks joke about how the first thing every new president is shown is the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination from a never before seen angle, which looks suspiciously like it's off the grassy knoll!
So a Donald presidency would look very much like an Obama or Bush presidency. The point is that the President these days is not a Roosevelt or even an Eisenhower but a figurehead. That's not to say that a Donald presidency would not be terrifying with its imitation of fascist demagoguery. On the domestic front, we would continue to see neoliberal economic policies siphoning wealth from the 99% to the 1% and, on the international front, more wars and more bombing at the behest of the military-industrial lobby.