From INDIA THIS WEEK of today. June 29,2018


Anadi Naik

As a result of the promises of "America First" philosophy of the Trump administration about 2300 children have been separated from their parents. Even if President Trump has ordered reunification of families there is no process in place to unite those children with their parents. Nobody knows exactly what is happening or what would happen to them. Separating children from their parents is inhuman and defies common sense and logic. Yet, it is happening before our eyes. Throughout the United States there is outrage about it. Many civic groups, labor unions, churches, newspapers along with a majority of the population have expressed their disappointment. Yet, they have not been able to make any lasting impact on the wrong policy of the Government, So, many are wondering: "how did we get into this mess?"

It is both a curse and a gift from the most appreciated political system there is. In a democracy, citizens collectively express their wishes through their ballot. Candidates for various positions try to manipulate public opinion. More often than not citizens fall for their lies, half-truths and misrepresentation of facts. Whether it is India or the United States the public life within a democratic order becomes affected through bombardment of these lies and half-truths and misrepresentation of facts.

In the case of the United States, a large number of citizens fell for the idea of "America First" and "Make America Great Again". With sufficient intervention from professional manipulators they became convinced that a large chunk of the world is conniving against them. They were repeatedly and convincingly told that the Muslim World, the Arabs, the entire Third World are against the United States. So the United States must assert its right by being at the head of the line- "America First". It must prevent others from taking advantage of Uncle Sam.

This was an extreme form of appeal to self-interest and selfishness. It was more of an attempt to misguide citizens through misrepresentation of facts rather than enlighten them through the spread of ideas that unites and opens the path to greatness. In Donald Trump's America the wrong ideas gained currency whose result has been a profound hatred for foreigners and a nationalism of a very dark kind. That is why the Trump administration has been working overtime to drive out "intruders" and "invaders" who came here illegally. Many of these so called aliens have been in the country for decades and have established themselves as productive members of the society. All previous administrations have tried to find a solution by making some accommodation for people like them. However, the current administration's mindset mixed with homophobia has reached a very destructive level. It wants to ship them out regardless of their contribution.

Needless to say this has impacted political process and economic policies around the world in a negative way. The administration's tunnel- vision-nationalism has brought Brexit in UK and the anti-immigration ferment all over Europe. Established friends of the United States are feeling alienated. The administration has shown little interest in working with others. In order to promote self-interest it has tried to trample on the interests of others. Nowhere is it more visible than in its trade policies. It has created obstructions against the free flow of goods and services around the world by abandoning NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and imposing tariffs. Other countries have followed the tit for tat. As a result the farmers and consumers of the United States have been affected.

Many believe that Trump and his men did not think through the issues involved. In the name of making America great again it is hurting the farmers and manufacturers whom it says it wants to save. Slowly, the picture is becoming very ugly. Many Americans would like to get out of this chaotic and ugly environment that promotes nothing but selfishness and hatred. They repent their wrongful acceptance of a fraudulent demagoguery. However, once accepted, the rejection of it is not that simple. That is why America is in such a mess today.

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