Donald Trump will be inaugurated today as the 45th President of the United States, amid uncertainty about his capacity to lead the country that has emerged the only remaining global superpower.
Trump surprisingly won the presidential election in November 2016, against the predictions of most pundits, pollsters and even prophets. He ran a campaign driven by racism, sexism, misogyny and ignorance. He declared he would ban Muslims, who number at least one billion globally, from entering the United States “until the country figures what is going on”. He mocked the Muslim parents of a dead America soldier who fought for the country in Iraq. He also mocked a disabled journalist with gesticulations that demonstrated how the journalist walked.
Trump’s signature campaign promise was to ‘build a wall’ along the Mexican border and force Mexico to pay for it.
Trump broke every rule of conventional politics which required great level of decency from candidates to have a chance of acceptance. He won the election just weeks after he was heard on tape boasting about grabbing women by the genitals, even against their consent, just because he is a celebrity.
His opponent in the election, Hillary, wife of former president Bill Clinton, had during the campaign alerted Americans to Trump’s non-suitability for office. But the few voters who pushed Trump over the finish line counted Hillary’s many years of experience in public service as a liability, and a core element that would inhibit change in the country. Trump won the electoral college votes narrowly, but lost the popular vote massively. In the United States, it is the electoral college that determines who becomes president.
Trump has accused China of rigging international trade and manipulating its currency, insisting he would correct the anomaly. He also said America will not back any NATO country that does not pay its fair share of the alliance’s financial commitment. His core foreign policy, if he has any, is strictly isolationist in a globalized world.
And to the shock of both Republican and Democratic (the two main political parties in the United States) foreign policy veterans, Trump is in bed with Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, a state hostile to America. Trump has called him ‘smart’ countless times, to the discomfort of the American establishment.
And in the days leading up to the inauguration, reports have indicated that Russia helped to influence Trump’s victory. Operatives of the Russian state are alleged to have been behind the hacking of emails of John Podesta, Chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Those emails embarrassed the campaign as they were released daily. They contained information that portrayed the former First Lady as being two-faced and corrupt. The emails also caused huge disaffection within Hillary’s party, as they suggested the party establishment conspired to rig Bernie Sanders, Hillary’s opponent in the party primaries, out of the party’s ticket.
Trump had initially dismissed the reports or Russia as witch-hunt by opponents, those he defeated in the election. Then, last week, in his first press conference since after winning the election, he agreed that the country probably hacked the emails.
As he takes the reins today, in focus will be his relationship with the rest of the world, as well as the minorities in the United State