The great manipulator strikes again

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In spite of all the blustering tweets, conservatives in America – and indeed across the world – probably feel that President Trump hasn’t actually done anything to harm us yet. The tone of his regime is bit of a problem but our culture is probably robust enough to recover its decorum. The rawer end of mainstream media, Hollywood and elements operating in social media bear far more responsibility for the coarsening our our discourse that the Donald has.

The rhetoric of his foreign policy is hopefully very different from the actual policy being pursued. As rhetoric, it is pretty unerving. For the people across the world who took the risk of pinning their flags to his mast, he has not – as yet – done anything to really make them regret doing that. He kept the Clinton dynasty out of the White House and for that alone they are still happy to live with a bit of risk.

Fraser Nelson in today’s Daily Telegraph puts the whole Trump project in a sensible context. As he sees it, Trump just wants to keep people talking about the things which he feels they need to talk about. The most recent twitter outrage is one perpetrated to get Europe thinking about an immigration problem which no one – with the exception of Douglas Murray – seems to accept for what it really is – an invasion.

Fraser’s assessment should allay the worries which some might have – for another few months at least. He also estimates that the Trump risk may be something that all of us will have to live with for another seven years. Fasten your seat belts. He writes, in his concluding remarks:

A few weeks ago, I met an American fund manager who calculated that his father – who quarried sand in Long Island – would be paid 45 per cent less today if he was still working. This, he said, was why Trump won: because globalisation, immigration and automation are conspiring against the ordinary American and no one else (other than the vanquished Bernie Sanders) seemed to care. The aim of the Trump project, from the get-go, was to convey this anger, a sense that they understood the desperation (a word that those around Trump often use) of the American working class.

Team Trump’s other working assumption is that partisanship now governs American politics. That the Reagan era was the last one with politicians who fought in wars together, and were bound together by a shared experience. Today, it’s tribal – and the winner is the one that best enthuses their core supporters. Much is made of Trump’s low national approval ratings but among Republicans they’re pretty high: 81 per cent, at the last count. So it’s probable that he’ll be a two-term president.

It’s very rare for any American president, no matter how unpopular, to lose a bid for reelection in a growing economy – and even now, there are no signs that the Democrats will find a decent candidate to pit against Trump. He might tire of the job, fake an illness or implode for some other unthinkable reason. But we might well have to live with The Donald for another seven years. The trick will be to take him seriously, but not literally – and as far as is decently possible, ignore those tweets.

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