Rarely in history has a US president incurred the wrath of his or her citizens and especially not in his second week in office, but then the USA has never known a President like Donald John Trump.
Calls for the country to unite behind its new president have been drowned out by songs of protest and reaction to President Trump’s increasingly extreme policy announcements.
First it was the Wall.
One of his key election pledges, Donald Trump used his first day in office to sign an executive order to allow for the construction of a wall along the US- Mexican border at an estimated cost of over 12 billion US dollars. But it’s alright he said, the Mexicans will pay for it!
Cue Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto denouncing the move and cancelling a proposed visit to the US. Looks like the Mexicans won’t be paying for it after all.
Next it was Obamacare.
The defining domestic legacy of the Obama administration, Obamacare or to use its proper name the affordable care act is designed to improve access to health insurance for US citizens.
Without the benefits of a national health service like we have in the UK, every citizen requires health insurance to pay for everything from routine medical procedures to complex operations.
Despite criticism in some quarters, mainly from the Republican party, who disagreed with its slightly socialist overtones, President Obama managed to get this important piece of legislation through a Republican dominated congress.
Mr Trump’s second act as President was to sign an executive order repealing Obamacare, despite having no clear replacement policy and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance.
A visit from UK Prime Minister Theresa May followed, with some very public hand holding and a lot of talking between the two leaders. Mr Trump seemed more controlled, less prone to an outburst and more likely to be willing to consider his options rather than carrying on regardless.
I felt a certain sense of optimism, like the feeling you get when you wake up and you think things are going to be alright.
But at 4:47pm that bubble burst with the signing of an executive order allowing for the following:
- Suspension of the entire US refugee admissions system for 120 days
- Indefinite suspension of the Syrian refugee program
- Banning entry to the USA of people from seven majority Muslim countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for a period of 90 days.
- Banning of Dual-nationals from those seven countries from entering the country for a period of 90 days.
Cue chaos at airports across the US as millions attempting to enter the country were turned away, with US border officials struggling to cope with the new regulations.
Cue widespread condemnation from the international community.
Cue a weekend protests in the streets and throughout American society.
Cue a seemingly ceaseless number of stories of hardworking and loyal Americans being turned away from their native land for simply being born somewhere else.
Did I miss anything out?
So here we are, the ban is almost 3 days old and people are still struggling to come to terms with it. Seeing things from an outside perspective gives you a unique understanding of the problem and for me the problem is simple: Logic.
Donald Trump is a man who has no previous political experience, but has considerable business experience as typified by his status as one of Americas leading businessmen.
Business people follow logical patterns of thought, if a person isn’t doing their job they get fired, if the business doesn’t make a profit they fire the CEO, if that doesn’t work they spend money to try to get out of the hole.
Donald Trump is applying business logic to international politics: High number of illegal migrants from mexico harming American business? Simple, build a wall. Obamacare costs too much? Simple, get rid of it. Europe has terrorism primarily undertaken by Islamic extremists? Simple, stop Muslims from coming to the US, no problem.
International Politics is rarely that simple. I wish it were.
Donald Trump is a man who has been given the keys to the car without first learning the responsibilities entailed in driving it. Most of the senior politicians in the world have considerable experience in politics, having come up through the ranks of their respective political parties and serving on various committees and bodies.
With experience comes the tempering of the judgement that got them elected, forcing them to compromise or die.
Mr Trump has had none of this experience having won the election straight to the top job in the US government. There has been no tempering, no compromise.
But he is not entirely to blame for this, the problem is that he is bypassing the US senate and signing executive orders without consulting them. He doesn’t need them.
The US political system is set up in such a way that the President (or the executive branch) can issue executive orders to help officers and agencies of the executive branch (the various departments: State etc) manage operations within the federal government itself.
These orders are independent of the Legislative branch (Congress) and the Judiciary branch (The US courts) and do not require their assent or consultation to be put into law.
Our system here in the UK has a similar equivalent, Prerogative powers which can be used without the assent of Parliament. These were recently called into use by the government to try to trigger Article 50 without Parliamentary assent, but were vetoed by the supreme court after a legal case.
There is no such check on Mr Trump, nothing to stop him signing whatever he deems to be correct into an executive order and making it law.
The Republican party, buoyed by its resounding dominance of the senate has been completely sidelined by the Presidents position. They cannot check his power because they have no constitutional mechanism to do so, save for impeachment.
But he’s not doing anything wrong and is acting completely within the bounds of his role as the head of the executive branch of the US government.
The outcry that has followed this new immigration ban must give President Trump a clear moment of pause to reconsider the office to which he has been given and the clear responsibility to his 320 million stockholders. He would be wise to calm down his more extreme policies before America yells in a collective voice “You’re Fired”.