How to survive the Trump era – be vigilant and resist at every turn
Monday 20 February 2017 07.05 EST
In barely a month, the new US president has managed to spread chaos and uncertainty – and a degree of fear that would make any terrorist proud – at a dizzying pace. Not surprisingly, citizens and leaders in business, civil society, and government are struggling to respond appropriately and effectively.
Any view regarding the way forward is necessarily provisional, as Donald Trump has not yet proposed detailed legislation, and Congress and the courts have not fully responded to his barrage of executive orders. But recognition of uncertainty is not a justification for denial.
On the contrary, it is now clear that what Trump says and tweets must be taken seriously. After the election in November, many hoped he would abandon the extremism that defined his campaign. Surely, it was thought, this master of unreality would adopt a different persona as he assumed the responsibility of what is arguably the most powerful position in the world.
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America’s leading media, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, have so far refused to normalise Trump’s abnegation of American values. It is not normal for the US to have a president who rejects judicial independence; replaces the most senior military and intelligence officials at the core of national security policymaking with a far-right media zealot; and, in the face of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test, promotes his daughter’s business ventures.
But when we are barraged by events and decisions that are beyond the pale, it is easy to become numb and begin looking past major abuses of power at the still-greater travesties to come. One of the main challenges in this new era will be to remain vigilant and, whenever and wherever necessary, to resist.
• Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel prizewinner in economics, professor at Columbia University, a former senior vice-president and chief economist of the World Bank, and one-time chair of the US president’s council of economic advisers under Bill Clinton.
© Project Syndicate
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