Trump should grab chance to revitalize America
US President Donald Trump is deemed by many protesters across all the big cities in America as someone who condones police violence against minorities; a white supremacist; a greedy capitalist; and someone who should face justice.
Trump condemned the killing of George Floyd, the black man who died while being arrested by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The president gave a speech on the current turmoil in the US, in which he alluded to the possibility of deploying the military to protect lives and properties in the areas afflicted by the demonstrators’ rage. He went to St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House and was pictured holding a Bible. He promised that peace and tranquility would soon be restored to America.
The scenes of chaos and anarchy unleashed by anti-Trump forces will not erode his authority, and they may end up working in his favor if he acts to fix the problem of racial inequality.
The protesters are judging Trump. But he can judge the protesters too, as can many other people inside and outside America. Trump and Attorney General William Barr have threatened to use terrorism laws to tackle the movement known as Antifa that the president blames for the violent riots.
The anti-Trump forces have defied the national shutdown due to coronavirus to convince others that America is suffering from a great malaise due to an array of social and economic problems. However, one cannot forget that race is the most important element in the current demonstrations. African Americans have suffered a disproportionately high percentage of the deaths and infections from coronavirus, and they have been hurt the most by the economic dislocations of that epidemic. Therefore, their current anti-Trump message exceeds by far a single case of police brutality in Minneapolis.
The aim of many of the protesters is to stop Trump from being re-elected in November, but the irony is that the exact opposite could happen.
While the liberal media defames the Trump administration, he still enjoys much support at least among those who voted for him in 2016. The US middle class fears both the elitist privilege of America’s wealthiest class, and the demagoguery associated with violence expressed in the current protests. America’s middle class has accepted the decisive language Trump has spoken to stop violent protest because it ensures stability, order, and the continuity of the economic stakes available for it. Accordingly, he can capitalize on the support he finds in America’s middle class, and this can launch his second term in office.
If Trump does win a second term, whether or not this will lead to more protests is unknown.
This generation of protest politics and politicians in the US has relied heavily on “spin” and style over substance. There is a governing elite and, on the opposite side, dissenters who are skilfully changing the political direction of the masses through subversive manipulation using cheap propaganda and advanced technological tools.
But radical politics tend only to succeed when a nation is in decline, and America is not in decline — it is still a powerful and dominant nation. There have been complaints by many Americans that their current economic and social problems are not being tended to. This can be solved by people working together: Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, centrists and independents.
Despite its internal social problems, the US is where compromise, mutual concessions and pragmatism dominate. America has been able to thrive because it was able to transform itself.
Trump has many options as he attempts to end the country’s widespread civil disobedience. He could normalize life again by ending the coronavirus shutdown, since the protesters have taken advantage of the empty streets to fill them with their ranks. He could play up the so-called “Obamagate” scandal in an attempt to implicate his predecessor. He could continue to link Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to the radical-left elements involved in the violence that has marred these demonstrations. However, Trump’s reputation could be enhanced if he chooses to meet this challenge by reaching out to African Americans and seeking common ground with them, away from protest politics.
Radical politics tend only to succeed when a nation is in decline, and America is not in decline.
There is a need for Trump to call for a revitalization of America. This could be his best response to the pessimism of the present mood in the country, and the most efficient way to defeat the message of the protesters. Maybe he could call for a national campaign to promote charity work.
The protests in America could be the start of a universal phenomenon, reflecting the worries of people all over the world about the economic collapse following the coronavirus pandemic. Protests could soon happen in Europe, Asia or other parts of the world. But if Trump ends this crisis successfully, America can lead the world toward economic, social and political development.
- Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, publisher and writer. She holds an MA in political sociology from the University of Lyon. Twitter: @bilarakib