I knew Trump era would be full of bigotry, discrimination, violation of rights. But I didn’t expect the deterioration to be at this speed and scope. It definitely took Erdoğan years to truly screw Turkey. It seems that at this pace, it will not take Donald J. Trump that long. It is mind blowing how fast the world’s most powerful democracy can start turning into a protectionist, discriminative country where people from seven designated Muslim-majority countries are handcuffed at the airports, subjected to religion tests, denied entry to the U.S. where they have been working and living for years.
The Muslim ban significantly diminished the U.S.’s moral authority. Be assured that from now on, all the human rights reports, condemnations of rights violations from the U.S. will be mocked like never before.
There is resistance within the country. There are major protests against him and his actions which reveals that the American society, or at least a big segment of it, refuses to sit and watch while their president violates basic principles of democracy and the rights of their fellow citizens.
America’s economic interests are also at stake.
It has only been a week and his actions already weakened the American position in various parts of the world. Take the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It was an agreement that would set very high standards on environment, trade in services, employment. It would set a framework protecting American investors in the TPP countries whose combined GDP accounts for around %40 of the global economy. The deal was repeatedly denounced by Beijing as an attempt to contain China. None of these facts were able to prevent Trump from pulling his country out of the arrangement. Now that USA withdrew from TPP, China is expected to fill the vacuum. Yes, the man who constantly talked about taking on China, gave the Chinese the candidacy of commercial leadership in the Pacific Rim on a silver platter. In search for an economic engine for the TPP, Australia and New Zealand now encourage China to join TPP. China is also the dominant power in Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is not yet finalized. It is a smaller deal compared to the TPP and TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). RCEP countries’ combined GDP makes up around 30.5% of the world’s economy. But with the TPP’s future in question, it has now a better chance at setting its own (China’s) standards covering a big portion of the global commerce.
Trump’s trade policy is strictly neo-mercantilist and belongs to another age. Economic protectionism always ends up hurting all. The U.S. has experienced it with Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930 through which the U.S. joined the protectionist bandwagon of the time. It was trigged multiple retaliations and created much resentment against the U.S. Moreover, it contributed to the rising economic nationalism of the era that eventually led to the World War II.
It is not China or Muslims abroad who could fix all this. The task is up to the independent institutions of the U.S. as well as American civil society. And of course the Republicans in the Congress who hold these words of Ronald Reagan dear:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”