On the Edge
WHEN the island community of Inishturk became the subject of international headlines last March after it offered future ‘refugees’ asylum from a Donald Trump presidential victory, it seemed like a great yarn. After all, who would really up sticks from downtown Manhattan or Washington DC to live on a windswept island off County Mayo? It is a long, long way from Massachusetts or Maine, Los Angeles or Long Island, Indianapolis or Idaho for disillusioned Democrats to sail across the Atlantic ocean to the island outpost of Inishturk.
But as dawn broke over the New York skyline on Wednesday morning and the triumphant Trump camp celebrated in the ballroom of the Hilton Hotel, the realities of the implications of his victory reverberated into every nook and cranny across the globe.
Building a wall along the Mexican border may ultimately prove to be just one of the plethora of his nationalistic poses during his cartoonish campaign but, more realistically, the fate of the many undocumented Irish immigrants – which includes thousands of Co Mayo people – will, undoubtedly, hang in the balance as a conservative Republican Senate and House of Representatives undo many of Barack Obama’s progressive reforms on illegal immigrants.
So too will his promise to cut corporation tax and lure such companies as Google, Facebook and Apple – which use Ireland’s favourable regime as tax shelters – back onto American soil. With a High Court challenge to the proposed new Apple facility in Athenry, Co Galway, there is a real chance the company will baulk at the challenges and possibly be attracted by the promise of a more favourable tax regime back home.
RABBLE rouser, reality-TV star and real-estate tycoon, Donald Trump is now the commander-in-chief of a new American dream he created through vitriolic racist and gender abuse as he criss-crossed the now dis-United States over the last year. Time will tell whether that dream – underpinned by promises of an economic resurgence for blue-collar white men living out on the edge – ultimately becomes a nightmare. Commentators have dubbed Trump’s ‘movement’ as ‘nativism’ and a clear backlash against globalisation. (But we all know that horse has long bolted and now happily rules the world in a iCloud up there in the ether.)
Another opined that a misogynistic white America could never vote for a woman as first lady directly after a black man became first citizen.
Turns out once again that media myopia underestimated the velvet revolution – with its racist and anti-elitist overtones – happening in the disenfranchised rust belts and blue-collar ghettos of the United States. So too were the pollsters wrong-footed, just as they were for Brexit, the British general election, and, indeed, the Irish one earlier this year. Tellingly, this is because such organisations have become part of the problem: elite insiders and willing signatories to a socially, culturally and geographically separate group mindset, far removed from the feeling of disenfranchisement and alienation felt by a large majority of citizens, excluded from the fragrant fold of privilege and prestige. (Just look at how Washington DC voted 93 percent for Clinton while Trump received over 70 percent of Wyoming’s vote.)
AS some opinion columnists made apocalyptic predictions in the hours after the Trump victory, global markets ducked and dived but didn’t quite crash in the manner predicted. Unsurprisingly, this sound-bite line by internationally respected New York Times columnist Paul Krugman immediately echoed around the world wide web: “We are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.” However, the rest of his opinion piece was much less apocalyptic about Trump’s real power once he is forced to bow to the slow wheels of Capitol Hill’s bureaucracy.
Eight years ago when Barack Obama electrified the US, empowering the millions of black people who had direct or familial experience of an apartheid system, the vision of hope – “Yes we can” – shone around the world.
So, what the hell has happened in the interim? Nothing much more than an economic crash that exposed the raw realities of perennial inequities between the rich and poor, all compounded by the gargantuan greed afforded by globalisation.
And all the billionaire cartoon character Donald Trump had to do was capitalise on this, out-manoeuvring all the smart-ass political insiders, media moguls, hot-shot pollsters with Ivy League credentials, glitzy celebrities, elitist inner-circles who scoffed at him and his blonde mullet and orange skin and plagiarising wife who posed nude for photographs.
Now, as horrified Hillary Clinton supporters pack their bags and check their passports, who is having the last laugh?