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Reactions to Trump are mostly over-blown and unhelpful

By Mal Fletcher - posted Wednesday, 1 March 2017


The reaction to President Donald Trump's first weeks in power says more about us than it might about him.

Doubtless there is much to find objectionable in the person and previous behaviour of the President. Some of his past remarks about women were by his own admission crass, careless and highly inappropriate.

His bombast on the campaign trail in addressing immigration issues was attractive to his core supporters but less so to parts of the international community, who still look to the US president for a voice of calm reassurance in difficult times.

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One suspects that the President's self-initiated war on the "mainstream" media will end in tears - probably for all concerned. He will not be able to maintain the antipathy towards the press and media without having this distract him from more important goals.

His popularity will slide among his core supporters to this point - many of them disaffected Democrats - if he is seen to spend more energy worrying about perceived injustices done to him than he invests in solving their problems.

For its part, the media will win no prizes by fighting fire with fire. Mr Trump is by nature combative. Getting down-and-dirty to attack the elected president, throwing to the wind any remaining vestige of journalistic impartiality, will only further bolster the American public's apparent distrust of the media.

A number of polls suggest that a relatively significant percentage of Americans view the press and media corps as unaccountable and avidly left-leaning elites.

One thing is certain: Mr Trump inspires passionate emotions, on both sides of the political divide. Having said that, the at times almost manic reaction to his first weeks in office, in places far removed from America, suggests that many people are reacting not just to issues or to specific executive actions, but to the very idea of a President Trump.

Some of the leaders of recent demonstrations have ostensibly set out to defend specific rights in society. This is all well and good. But when offered the opportunity to explain their reasons for protest some, such as Baroness Warsi, have immediately launch into passionate diatribes about everything that is in any way Trump-related.

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Meanwhile, while celebrities at awards ceremonies line up to launch diatribes against their legally elected president, many Americans may wonder why, if they're so serious about a political role, they don't cancel their ceremonies in order to give themselves wholly to the cause.

Protest is a vital mechanism for keeping executive power in check. It is a tool for change, but one that should be exercised with a clear and consistent focus and with some level of emotional restraint and proportionality.

Being angry about something does not on its own make a protest effective. The present climate suggests that reason has given way to raw emotion and measured consideration has been shut out by knee-jerk sloganeering.

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This article was first published on 2020Plus.



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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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