Trump the felon or Trump the saviour?

Jun 1, 2024
New York, USA. 20th May, 2024. Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 20, 2024 in New York City. Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, will take the stand again to continue his cross examination by the defence in the former president's hush money trial. Cohen is the prosecution's final witness in the trial and are expected to rest their case this week. Cohen's $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels is tied to Trump's 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. Credit: UPI/Alamy

The stunning conviction in New York of Donald Trump on 34 felony counts is more likely to encourage his legion of supporters than otherwise.

Throughout the course of his trial, he well prepared them to accommodate the gift of such an outcome in further propelling the outrageousness of his gift for mendacious hoopla to new heights.

And thus to drive ever deeper the polarisation of American life – a polarisation which, while already on a path to unprecedented turmoil and violence, needs with even greater urgency to be understood if it is to be overcome.

Up until now, the dominant pole (though temptingly ‘North’, let’s call it P1) has been the one from which wealth and privilege and Ivy League has, since Independence, owned power and propelled American life and American interaction with the world. The one which has with unparalleled aggression created the America and much of the world of today.

An America in which, today, anger and division across the full spectrum of American life has never been a greater threat to its way ahead.

A world in which American dominance and exclusivism, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has delivered a spread of battle fronts – politically, militarily, economically and culturally – which it can no longer control, and a world in which American honor and influence, even among its longer term allies, is increasingly derided and parodied.

The other pole (though temptingly ‘South’, let’s call it P2) is the one in which more and more Americans find themselves desperate for change – the one in which they have tired of waiting for some messiah from the durably hapless P1 to lead them to redemption. The one in which P1 has failed them so egregiously that they are ready to take their chances with just about anyone from just about anywhere else. Even one as faux wealthy, one as so privileged and one as so ignorant, so unrestrained and so theatrical as a Trump.

The pole in which Trump the Saviour, Trump the Messiah, may soon enough be seen as being dragged to the cross.

Those of P2 understand that while P1 leaders like a Biden may well be decent enough and experienced enough, they offer no more than the same. More of their maddening belief in themselves and their own god-given goodness that they can’t comprehend the god-awful messes of their creation across so many aspects of American life and the American way.

In their desperation for change, P2ers have become less concerned about the risks of going with a Trump than of staying the course with a Biden. They see more hope for finding a better way for Americans in a Trumpist Fortress America – in an America First.

For the rest of the world, looking on, the emergence of a new Fortress America under Trump – however personally vain his motives may be for creating it and however long it would take him to realise its cost to America – would be both opportune and timely.

The consequential and further diminishing of America’s influence and reliability as an ally would, while being vexing for servile bit-players like Australia, create welcome elbow room for serious changes in the World Order. Changes in which competent, less servile, players such as the French and the Germans, the Japanese and the Koreans, elements of ASEAN and the African Union could contribute useful leadership.

On such a stage, where the decaying props of an imposed out-of-time rules-based World Order would invite forward-looking reimagining, the Chinese would, of course, be prominent. Though not in a way, hopefully, which would entice them to break their composure and follow the appalling example of the Americans. Other than through American eyes, there is quite enough to be seen in the China of today to allay fear of such an ambition.

Of course, should Trump not resume his presidency and thus not create a new Fortress America, a rough equivalency of it and its above effects could be induced as his outraged followers go at it much harder than they have to date in fighting for what they want the future of their country and their way of life to be. With the possibility, though, that this could cause the Americans at large to look around elsewhere, ever more desperately, for scapegoats.

Either in or out of the presidency, the fact remains that Trump and his ideology is a threat to Americans and the rest of us.

Most likely in ways – arising from his felony convictions – yet to fully emerge and yet to be factored in.

We do live in interesting times.

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