By Barry Lord
In the pub last Friday on Donald Trump’s Inauguration day I observed two contrasting emotions.
My local hostelry was hosting an evening’s ‘celebration’ in honour of the rubber stamping of the 45th President of the United States.
The turnout could have been better, although in fairness people were still at work, trying to get home or planning dinners, so the timing could not have been helped.
But those who did manage to get along perfectly summed up the disparity of feeling about Donald Trump’s ascension to the top office.
As the former real estate king turned leader of the free world, took centre stage, I watched the reaction of two of the locals – both Irish.
President Trump, you made a big mistake. By trying to divide us up by race, religion, gender and nationality you actually brought us closer. pic.twitter.com/U7deCCTFx9
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 21, 2017
One gentleman was in his late seventies, the other in his early twenties.
The older man fell short of doing cartwheels when President Trump took to the podium. So enthused in fact was he, that he phoned his sister in Washington DC, a citizen of the U.S, for a number of years, to gauge the level of jubilation in her neighbourhood.
I could understand, if not share, his sense of revelry. For this gentleman, Trump clearly represents the politician of a bygone era; the type who always shoots from the hip, cares not a jot for diplomacy or the feelings of the opponents he insults with his abrasive language.
After all, its dog eat dog, this politics game.
Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
By contrast, the younger man sat in relative silence, listening to the proclamations of the latest incumbent of the oval office with considerable unease, especially the part about putting America’s interests before all others.
Now you may argue what else would you expect an incoming U.S president to say, but it’s obvious to many, including the young man in the pub, what the implications of such a statement could mean for those of us on this side of the Atlantic.
Not for the first time in this fractious presidential election have I been left bewildered by the reaction of some my fellow citizens to this victory.
Many Irish, like their American counterparts and ex-pats, have seemingly lost the ability to scrutinise; so steadfast in their opposition to Hillary Clinton that it seemed any alternative candidate was a better alternative.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 21, 2017
But have the Irish Trump cheerleaders really thought about the possible repercussions for their own country?
What impact could Trump’s pledge to slash corporation tax rates have on the Irish economy?
At last count there were 700 American companies in Ireland. 200,000 jobs depend on American investment and with Donald Trump’s vision of a singular and, on the face of it, more insular America, where do the economic interests of tiny Ireland figure in his world view?
Comments likes these inevitably invite accusations of hysteria and scare-mongering. But we all take a view of the world, based on the media we consume, and the vision I take is one of self-interest and isolation.
We now have a man in The White House demanding loyalty and obedience to an American ideology, American interests – not global interests – and woe betide anyone who doesn’t toe the party line.
The same could be said of post-Brexit Britain. The idea of looking after number one, of not seeing yourself part of a larger community, is now deeply ingrained in the thinking of many, and should you question this idea, whether you are a journalist or a man in the street, you instantly become a sort of dissident. A moaner. A complainer. A snowflake.
And for what? For raising a legitimate concern about the prospects for our corner of the globe?
The older gentleman I mentioned is fully entitled to dance the night away, sing Donald Trump’s praises all the way home. I personally take the stance of the younger man and the look on his face brought that line from Shaun of the Dead to mind.
“We go over to my mate’s place, hole up, have a cup of tea and wait for this whole thing to blow over.”