The presence of a psychopathic monster at the head of the most powerful country in the world, a country which we all depend on, has been the elephant in the room in 2017. Although we have laughed about him, dissociated ourselves from him, opposed him, awaited his fall or his assassination, Trump has been present every single day of 2017. His insolent, incoherent, vulgar, deceptive and irresponsible tweets assail us each morning when we wake up; his coarse, unfiltered gestures trouble us; the chaos that he provokes everywhere he goes makes us fear the worst, even nuclear war.
What if he is the mirror that reflects back to us a terrifying image of our society?
Trump: the mirror of a society that accepts the unending rise of social inequality, a society led by and organized for the rich. The tax cut policy, privatization, the dismantling of the state, tax havens, multinationals, gross domestic product – Trump champions all of this, but so do Macron, Couillard, Legault, and Trudeau.* It’s the dogma of neoliberalism and free trade, and all our little lefties haven’t changed much. Misery, poverty, spoliation, uprooting and dependence reign more than ever.
Trump: the mirror of a society that refuses to take seriously the issues of climate change and the threat of a collapse in the economic system and ecosystems – a society running toward chaos. Trump doesn’t hide it: he denounces COP21, brings back coal, authorizes pipelines.** Other countries signed COP21, including our own, but they hardly do anything differently. Oil continues to flow, and cars, trucks and planes circulate, to the point of canceling out all the gains in energy efficiency down to the last drop, down to the invasion of water and the fury of storms, down to drought and uncontrollable fires, down to asphyxiation and famine in megacities. At home, Trudeau stupidly repeats that we can, at the same time, reduce our greenhouse gases and triple the operation of oil sands. It is clear, however, that our timid steps toward a green economy, our electric cars and our community gardens won’t save us from the deluge.
Trump: the mirror of a society that refuses solidarity among people and humans wherever they are from, that erects walls, that turns a blind eye to drowning migrants, to the refugees who flee, to complicity with Saudi Arabia, to the aspirations of 2 billion Chinese and Indians for a standard of living similar to that of the West and the despair of young Africans who suffer under the ecological footprint of Western countries. Trump says bluntly, “America first; we are going to annihilate North Korea, Iran, the Islamic State; we are going to get the Palestinians out of Jerusalem; the U.N. is a house of lies.”*** But we are doing the same thing, just more politely. We sell arms to Saudi Arabia and we secretly dread the surge of barbaric hordes of climate, political and economic refugees. We are incapable of combining national identity and international solidarity. We invent the extreme right and extreme left to make ourselves feel better.
Trump: the mirror of a society that has totally perverted the very idea of democracy with money, the manipulation of information, collusion, political partisanship and patronage. Trump has brought bank directors and multinationals to the White House, has invented fake news, has trampled on democratic institutions and is only concerned with his electoral base. Is our democracy here so different? The multiplying scandals are proof of this. The people don’t decide, they control nothing, they are exploited and programmed.
Trump is the (Republican!) elephant in the room. Behind the political correctness and the good ecological conscience that we display, we tolerate the same type of society. Its omnipresence and effortlessness throughout 2017 offer us an overwhelming mirror of our denial and our collective resignation.
*Editor’s note: References here include French President Emmanuel Macron, Philippe Couillard, current premier of Quebec, François Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec Party in Canada, and Justin Trudeau, current prime minister of Canada.
**Editor’s note: COP 21, or the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, was held in Paris, France to negotiate the terms of the Paris climate agreement, which was then signed by 174 countries in April 2016.
***Editor’s note: This passage appears to be a broad summary by the author of President Trump’s general policy plans and ideas.