Man Of His Words

Donald Trump impresses with his record so far of working on most of his election promises, characteristically not giving two hoots to political correctness and staying loyal to his constituency

Here’s a politician who calls a spade a spade, does not retract his statements and does not renege on pre-poll promises. Never mind the propaganda of the frustrated Democrats and their cheerleaders in the fourth estate, intelligentsia, Hollywood and beyond, which continues with more vitriol than what even Prime Minister Narendra Modi could countenance from the opposition and other detractors in India. What has caught international attention is Donald John Trump’s verbal duel with Kim Jong-un of North Korea and his act of scrapping financial aid to Pakistan. A war is never desirable and, if the economy is the priority, it shouldn’t happen. However, since the Korean dictator has always postured in a manner that suggests he is dying for a face-off, it is better for the world to see an international policeman like the United States prevail rather than a quixotic egotist get away with murder in the Pacific region. There is a greater chance of America turning the regional balance in its favour now than where the odds stood under Barack Obama. The ‘sanction’ against terror sponsor Pakistan is music to Indian ears. In the past, one noticed at best the stalling of F-16 despatches to the Islamic state, which were finally delivered. The suspension of the $1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan — which Islamabad sulked about, and took yet another tentative step against Jamaat-ud Dawa nevertheless — looks on a firmer footing. The other move that made heads turn worldwide is the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, respecting a long-held dream of followers of Judaism to move their capital to the historic city. Despite the existence of several Jew stalwarts among American policy makers, no predecessor of Trump had dared it, apprehensive of a backlash from the Islamic world that finds it an affront heaped upon Palestinians, given the holy city’s shared heritage.

Americans, his voters in particular, would be more concerned with his ability to honour election promises. The core constituency of a politician may like their representative to do things that the entire country may not approve of, but keeping the promises makes the person a man of his words, which is a significant aspect of one’s morality. And it ensures that the voter base wouldn’t turn indifferent during their next turn to exercise the franchise. With Modi looking uncertain on both the social (Hindu causes) and economic (liberalisation) front — albeit being the best bet for most — Indians wish they had got a Trump at South Block. For, the President of the United States is reportedly working on 46.5% of his poll promises while 8.9% have been fulfilled already within his first year in office. However, numbers don’t tell what part of the pledge the leader made assumes more significance for his followers. What Americans would love to see and aspirants from the developing countries wouldn’t is creation of jobs for the domestic population. This could have been an economically untenable proposition because of the substantially higher wages the local college graduates demand, reducing businesses’ profit margins, but the remarkably low degree holders the US translates to a possibility of a partial honouring of this promise. While there is little progress in policy here, manufacturing is looking up. Trump fulfilled another promise he made to millions of struggling Americans by cutting taxes for all taxable groups — the most sweeping tax overhaul by the Congress in 30 years — which will hopefully bring to the US economy at least $4 trillion, with several companies that had shunned business in that country once likely to return. More businesses means more jobs. Making the US Congress allow health insurance across the 50 States is now a possibility awaiting some changes in rules that can end monopolies and cartels of insurers. The funding for veterans’ health care has been raised. Trump has rolled back the mandate for Obamacare, though he hasn’t repealed it. The promises numbered in hundreds and this is hardly an exhaustive list. In short, a remarkable difference between Trump and Modi is that a chunk of Republican Americans have not started criticising him.

There are some serious personality issues with Trump, of course. His views on women expressed on record are disgusting. The proclivity to shoot his mouth off additionally on Twitter does not behove the head of the strongest country in the world. If he looks grumpy on television, it may matter to the people of the country that made a song and dance about Richard Milhous Nixon’s appearance during the debate with John Fitzgerald Kennedy. And this is a far more intolerant, leftist America where even women have shun shame and defecated in public places to mark their protest against the election of Trump. On the first issue, Trump needs to work sincerely. On the second and third, one wishes the Americans valued content more than style.


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