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Trump takes us back to George Orwell’s 1984


As I write this column, my dear friend the Donald is into his 6th day as the 45th president of the US. What a man! Even when we disagree with the positions of political leaders, especially one who is touted as the leader of the free world, we often still respect them.

It is extremely difficult to do this with one who can best be described as a raving madman. Those who attributed his earlier tantrums to campaign rhetoric and election overheat expected him to start acting the way a president is expected to. Not so, Donald Trump! The real man is now before us. He is storming the presidency as if he is at war with humanity and the environment.

Donald Trump, apart from wearing an inflated ego is extremely thin-skinned. The slightest criticism sends him on the war path and he fights back by tweeting, especially at ‘ungodly’ hours of the morning. On Saturday, he forced his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to openly lie. What was the issue? He was appalled by the fact that the media and public at large questioned his claim that he had the biggest inaugural crowd ever. The evidence was there for anyone to see, but it obviously upset him. His adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested that Spicer was only presenting ‘alternative facts’, whatever that is. Interestingly, since then it is claimed that there has been a large demand for George Orwell’s 1949 novel, 1984. Orwell, the author of ‘Animal Farm,’ focuses in 1984 on a super state that controls and takes away independent thought. The book is about ‘newspeak and double think.’ As I said some time ago, he indulges in superlatives. Everything he does has to be the best, ever. We will remember when he got his doctor to say that he, a 70-year-old man, would be the healthiest president ever. He brags constantly about his popularity and wealth. He has to the best in everything!

The fact that Hilary Clinton got three million more votes disturbs him. So, he reacts by stating that this was because three to five million illegal immigrants voted, without a shred of evidence to support it. Even his colleagues are not with him on this. He is unwittingly questioning the very democracy about which the US prides itself. I have some difficulty with the view of America as the fountain of democracy, but for a different reason – the fact that thousands of black people, especially in the South are prevented from voting for all sorts of manufactured reasons and the political gerrymandering that takes place.

Since his inauguration, executive orders have been his method of operating. He is trying to meet his pledge to supporters to build a wall along the US/Mexican border, some 2,000 miles long. He is no longer waiting on the Mexican government to pay for it, although he insists that ultimately, they will. He has issued an executive order delegating federal resources to build his wall, which he suggests might be about 14 or 15 feet high. But he has to contend with the rugged terrain that includes uninhabitable deserts and the fact that the Rio Grande river often shifts in depth and direction. Moreover, some of the land around the border is privately owned. The cost of the wall and everything else that comes from his infertile political imagination are likely, it is said, to significantly increase the federal debt to $10 trillion dollars over 10 years. This becomes even more interesting with his pledge to cut taxes for the wealthy. One expects him to significantly reduce spending on things that matter to ordinary people, like Medicare. He has frozen federal hirings and there is even the possibility that this might apply to wages.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is so critical, given today’s concerns about the environment and climatic change, is experiencing uncertainty. His nominee for director has sued that agency on different occasions. Federal agencies have been asked to desist from issuing news releases and policy pronouncements and not to communicate with the ‘outside world’. In the case of the EPA they were asked to remove information on Climate Change. It is true that a new administration needs time to begin to put its policies in place, but the removal of information on Climate Change sends a signal.

Trump’s visit to the CIA showed the nature of the man. Instead of respecting the dignity of the hall where he met members, he went off on a tirade against the media for falsely accusing him of disparaging remarks about the intelligence community. But the evidence is there for anyone to look at. Trump is at war with truth and constantly lies, even when the facts are there to disprove him. When you read this article, there would have been other executive orders about NAFTA, removing the ban on interrogating procedures that have been widely condemned and restricting immigrants and refugees from certain areas.

Trump responds in simplicities to complex matters. His pledge to renegotiate NAFTA and to return jobs to American workers would show him the complexity of the world in which he is functioning. He has exhibited some dangerous tendencies, but the opposition is growing and will continue to.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.