Patricia J. Sohn offers an alternative perspective on Trump's international engagements.
I grew up decidedly on the Left. I have been so disgusted by local and national corruption in recent years that I may register Republican for the next major election. I know, I know. How could I think of such a thing? I am the poster-child for multicultural, mixed-race America – that is, what most of us are, really, when we are not faking it. By faking it, of course, I mean, faking that we belong, individually, to only one community – and that community is an important and powerful community in some way. Eschewing the rest. Circling the wagons. And shooting outward if anyone challenges our little communal power center, or our little ideas about our own identity. After all, we all know that Trump is a racist. A xenophobe. A wife-beater – wait, No. No one has said that about him yet. They have just called him a sexist, bigoted meany, bully, jerk, and all other things untoward and inappropriate.
Woah. Are we talking about a U.S. President? When I was growing up, the rule was – you salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and you stand behind even that President whose policies you do not like. Perhaps I was too much raised by Leave It To Beaver, out in the rural countryside of Alaska, Vermont, and then Florida, mixed, as it was, with a bit of Paris, London, Florence, Granada, Leningrad, and Hispaniola. Perhaps I am just too naïve to understand the necessity of such things as a concerted, Pravda–esque media assault on Trump, his entire family, and his entire entourage. Maybe I just don’t get it.
So, as a multi-racial person, how can I consider moving to “the other side”? Here is how I see it. First, I flat out do not believe that Trump is a racist, nor a xenophobe, nor even a sexist. He is married to an immigrant. He happily and wholeheartedly supports his daughter, who converted to Judaism, apparently for her husband. For a lot of people who I know, conversion can be a gut-wrenching thing. I have seen parents respond to it abysmally. Trump appears to have no such quandaries or hesitation in loving and supporting his own flesh and blood. Moreover, Trump has a long history of hiring immigrants and people of color. He is tremendously supportive of his wife and daughters – and even of his ex-wives. And they are all tremendously supportive of him. This is to say nothing of his support of his sons and sons-in-law. All of this is hard to come by in this day and age. I take high note of it.
Ex-wives? Get over it. So, he has ex-wives. It is a brand-new era. He has what looks like an extraordinarily well-functioning and supportive blended family. Trump himself is a poster-child for multiculturalism. So, why the scary rhetoric of the election cycle? Because it worked. It horrified the sensibilities of Democrats and took their eyes away from his actual victories. And it brought glee to the hearts of those in the U.S. who are sick of the establishment – I will call it the Aristocracy – of the Eastern Seaboard (e.g., the Left).
How does the saying go? Dress an unintelligent person in Chanel, you still have an unintelligent person. Dress an effective, world-renowned businessman in tripe, you still have an effective, world-renowned business man. Something like that.
Second, the Left lost great pluralities – if not the majority – of the population with invasive, expansionist policies that put state and national-level bureaucrats in the pockets, bedrooms, families, and otherwise in the personal lives of American citizens. This trend stands fundamentally against the principles that most U.S. citizens believe the country represents. Influenced by European soft-socialism (some of which has gone to the extreme of supporting euthanasia in some medical cases), the U.S. has seen an expansion of the administrative apparatus of state and national-level government agencies, as well as a trend toward the judiciary acting as an administrative agency. The latter is a tell-tale sign of authoritarianism. The Left lost more than it thinks it did in November 2016.
Third, meanwhile, the Left within the Media caricatures itself. CNN has accused the standing U.S. President of nothing short of desiring after incest; and, it is apparently a horrific guffaw for the U.S. President to compliment France President Macron’s wife on her athletic physique. However, it is just fine for ABC to wax eloquent about First Lady Melania and First Lady Macron’s high fashion sense. Believe it or not, there are places where women enjoy being complimented on their physique – within limits, of course (and certainly by my age!). It is better to read it as a debonair, genteel and gracious comment, standing as he was next to his statuesque super-model wife. Have some taste. Really. Score one for Trump on multicultural awareness and gender sensitivity. Perhaps the State Department even briefed him on such norms before his arrival. You think??
The media drones on about Russia. Russia?? Really? The only thing with teeth happening in regard to Russia is my old favorite, the New York Times, in its unilateral lifting of Russia back into the arena of world politics. Score one for Putin! He must be one very happy innocent bystander to the current U.S. madness, which verges on – no, well, it is solidly situated in – pathology.
Fourth, this drive in the Media-Left appears to come directly from – let us call it “coordination with” the Democratic Party. It really is time for the Democrats to look at themselves in the mirror. Vanity, thy name is corruption.
The U.S. works with Russia regularly on a range of issues. It interacts to at least some extent with enemy states such as Iran in coordinating on questions such as Syria, negotiating on nuclear issues, etc. The few meetings or conversations noted in the case of Trump appear to be not significant of anything at all, whereas dealings on the other side drip like compost. Hypocrisy prevails on the Democratic side of the aisle, much to my sadness as a now past devotée.
Analytical skills, anybody? Clearly, in this case, ideology is all that matters. Score one for me. I have been saying that ideas supersede rationality in politics for years! (Not necessarily good ideas, I should now add.)
And, fifth, Trump emerges a great internationalist. Trump has made three international visits to nine countries, including a striking and unusual representation of non-NATO, non-Anglo, non-Western, and even non-Christian countries by comparison with every other President on record by this time in their presidency. I would bet money that his international visits have been multiculturalin this way more than any other president considerably beyond their first six months in first term in office. And, yet, a perusal of the press shows many stories up through the end of April 2017 on Trump’s lack of international visits, and almost no comparative stories on the striking number and quality of his international visits since then. Go figure.
Patricia J. Sohn is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, Gainesville. this post first appeared on: