On the day Donald Trump became President of the United States, the spectrum of reactions from my friends ranged from outright distress among my Latin American and American friends to elation among my New Zealand First contacts. For the former, the election of a man who actively derided and degraded Latin America in sweeping statements against immigrants illegal or otherwise, was a stunning smack in the face of all that they believed to be good and proper about the United States. For the latter, disgusted with mainstream politics and politicians and the agendas being pushed, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States was something to celebrate, something to look forward to.
Contrary to what many of my politically oriented friends believe, a Donald Trump presidency will be adverse to New Zealand ideals and our well being. This is a man who has little apparent regard for international law, which New Zealand is well known for being a staunch advocate of. His inciting of hatred and fear towards minorities through ill thought out speeches and random comments that he says he did not mean, but then blasts out again and again. If he was sincere, he would have apologized and changed the tone of his speeches. As one with a diverse range of friends – gay and lesbian as well as straight; Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern; Christian and Muslim and so forth Mr Trump’s commentary grates on my ears like a grater on cheese.
Donald Trump’s political appointments to the various Departments so far suggest that the environment is some sort of bad thing in his grander view of the world; that militarizing homeland security is a priority. His Supreme Court will be deeply conservative, and potentially winding back such important laws as those resulting from Roe vs Wade (abortion), and make take – despite the threat of the C.I.A. boss to resign – a more lenient view of torture and interrogation methods. His view of the Middle East and the many problems there suggest a lack of understanding and a grossly simplistic outlook on a very complex region.
Mr Trump’s outlook will engender enthusiasm among those for whom advancing a political cause is a priority, but those such as myself who want a sense of order based on respect and common decency I cannot share the enthusiasm. I do not believe other than getting rid of the T.P.P.A. Mr Trump is going to help New Zealand in any way. Nor do I believe he has regard for the South Pacific, which is where I think up to 90% of New Zealand’s effort in foreign affairs should be spent. Get out of wars we cannot solve or win. Get out of or significantly overhaul our involvement in the Five Eyes and ECHELON spy networks. Unless they are going to work significantly in our interests we should not be a part of them.
Ultimately we will have to deal with Mr Trump and I think it will be a very interesting exercise when New Zealand does. Our diplomacy needs to be fair but firm, recognizing our common friendship with the United States is good and necessary and being free and able to vote is definitely better than being under the gun of a dictator. But destabilizing countries to get access to their natural resources and propping up dictatorships is not something New Zealand should have anything to do with. It remains to be seen whether Mr Trump will understand, much less accept this.