GOODBYE OBAMA – HELLO, TRUMP

TOMASZ WINIARSKI

The last two months of the year 2016 were an extremely important time for the United States. The sensational and considered as hardly possible result of the presidential election became a confirmation of the forthcoming reshuffle in the American politics and at its highest level

The day 19 January Anno Domini 2017. I am looking at the official website of the White House. In the tab entitled ‘Administration’ there is still information: ‘President Barack Obama’. Clocks in Washington indicate 6 p.m., so, the last presidential evening of the Obama family is coming. When I am writing these words, there are only 18 hours and 30 minutes till the end of the cadency. Every presidency becomes history sooner or later, however, not each of them comes into history. Was Obama building a monument for himself harder than bronze?

The evaluation of the presidency of Barack Obama divided the Americans, resulting in polarization of the society to a large scale. However, it is impossible to deny that he has achieved absolutely everything in the world of politics, getting to its top – after all, he became the leader of the most powerful country in the world. However, there is still a question: Is America, left by Barack Obama, stronger, safer and richer?

Obama in numbers

The retiring president is very popular in the society even by 60 per cent. This is a result worth jealousy, particularly as for the end of the presidency, because only two presidents in the history of the USA retiring from the office could boast about the best result in the support surveys. These were Ronald Reagan – with the result of 64 per cent in January 1989 and Bill Clinton, very popular by even 66 per cent among the Americans in January 2001. However, these are only survey results, and, as we know, they can make up data. A kind of carefulness about this type of survey does not only surprise, but is even recommended, especially in relation to what happened on the day of presidential election in the USA. Soon before the final voting, surveys had predicted the majority of votes for the candidate of the Democrats – Hilary Clinton. However, finally, at ballot boxes, the Americans had a completely different opinion than the one which interviewers and sociologists were trying to attribute to them. Conservative, Christian values won in the USA, particularly towards the attitude of a large part of our European political elites, which reject these values so willingly as allegedly ‘old-fashioned’.

However, not all surveys are so favourable to Barack Obama. In many issues, the Americans do not agree with the policy pursued by the former president. For example, what they mean is an access to weapon or not sufficiently effective fight with terrorism.

Controversies and protests

Opponents of Donald Trump are attacking him, accusing him of, among the others, racism and xenophobia. Groups not favourable to the New York millionaire, are also trying to link the election of him for president to the increase of incidents motivated by hatred based on racism. I reach the representatives of an organization called ‘Southern Poverty Law Centre’ which deals with, among the others, monitoring this type of events and attacks. It is just its opinion to which journalists have referred to recently, in such a newspaper as ‘The Washington Post’. Although this organization does an important and necessary work, among the others, supervising actions of racist groups acting in the USA (for example, groups of Ku Klux Klan or the neo- Nazis), as the Americans explained, it is also considered as biased and prejudiced to conservative, republican and Christian groups, having nothing in common with racism or xenophobia. For this reason, we should be very careful towards the opinion of the ‘Southern Poverty Law Centre’.

Since the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election on the scale of the whole country, we have observed an alarming number of incidents connected with hatred. Undoubtedly, some of them resulted from the campaign of Donald Trump full of hatred – Heidi Beirich, the director of the Intelligence Project in the ‘Southern Poverty Law Centre’ says to ‘Niedziela’.

Donald Trump himself condemned all kinds of attack motivated by racism and called everybody for ending them, which must have evidently gone unnoticed by the group of the SPLC.

Ben Stein – a known American comic, actor, lawyer and a commentator of events connected with the politics world, stood in defence of Donald Trump. ‘Nobody from the campaign staff of Donald Trump has ever said a racist statement, but he is stil called a racist’ – said Stein in a programme of the TV station ‘Fox News’. – He is not a racist - he added.

Indeed, racist problems in the United States got stronger during the presidency of Barack Obama. In the beginning it might have seemed that the election of the first black-skinned president finished all kinds of conflicts based on people’s race or that he would finish them. Unfortunately it did not happen so. The apogee of the social discontent about the policy of president Obama in these issues was particularly visible in July 2016 when 60 percent of the surveyed expressed their belief that during his cadency, relations based on human race had got worse.

Trump a president

On Friday 20 January 2017 at 12.00 of the local time, Donald Trump was officially sworn for the 45th president of the United States. The ceremony took place on the steps of the Capitol and the presidency vow was received by the judge of the Supreme Court John Roberts. All American presidents have always paid a vow while holding the right hand on the Bible. This is a beautiful custom, which emphasizes Judeo-Christian identity of America. Presidents choose a particular fragment of the Holy Scripture themselves, which is to be used during the solemn ceremony. Donald Trump chose his Bible from his childhood, and also the genuine, historical copy belonging to president Abraham Lincoln. The presence of God during the inauguration was visible not only in the custom of paying a vow on the Holy Scripture whose fragments were read out during the ceremony by a Catholic cardinal Timothy Dolan and a rabbi Marvin her. Before that he had gone to a solemn Holy Mass in the Episcopal church of St. John which is near the headquarter of the American presidents.

Tradition of solemn presidential inaugurations is the crowning of the peace process of passing over the authority whose long history bring pride to next generations of American citizens. It reaches back to the very beginnings of American democracy. The first presidential inauguration was held on 30 April 1789, during which the first of the USA – George Washington was sworn.

What will Trump will be like?

I am talking to Randy Motto – the chairman of the organization ‘Republicans in Poland’ which represents the Republican Party in Poland. I am asking him about the policy of Trump towards Poland, NATO and a threat connected with Russia.

It was the republican Congress which outvoted an anti-nuclear defence plan for Poland, and the democratic president annulated it, even without consulting it with Warsaw. It was the republican Congress which sanctioned sending military equipment to Ukraine, and the democratic president refused to provide this help. We have always been a political party which supported keeping a strong army both in the case of the USA and our allies. In other words, enemies are encouraged to aggression – Randy Mott says in an interview for ‘Sunday’.

This optimistic statement lets us be calm. However, on the other hand, the future policy of Donald Trump seems very difficult to predict. We can only speculate in this issue. The new American president is such a clear person that his presidency will probably be called one of the best or one of the worst in the modern history of the USA. It is doubtful that Trump will be remembered as ‘a neutral leader’, particularly that he is facing great historical challenges. So, we can only keep our fingers crossed for the new tenant in the White House.

AA

„Niedziela” 05/2017

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Lidia Dudkiewicz • Translation: Aneta Amrozik • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl