1 January 2017. The dawn of a New Year. Will 2017 be a year full of promise? Maybe. Surely it can’t be any worse than 2016. I don’t make New Year resolutions; never have. Seems like a pointless exercise to me. Talking of exercise, though, I could probably do to lose a few pounds after the Christmas ‘excesses’.
I count myself an optimist. Just my nature. My glass is almost always half full.
However, things might really start to go pear-shaped on 20 January when a narcissistic, bullying, mendacious misogynist takes the oath of office to become the 45th POTUS. Yes, The Donald looks set to turn things upside down, and maybe run the USA as an extension of his ‘(shaky) business empire’. A conflict of interest? Not according to his transition team.
Just last night, Trump held a party at his Florida resort. According to an article in The Guardian today: The party, for which invitations cost up to $575, has attracted criticism regarding potential conflicts of interest and the alleged selling of access to the president-elect and his family.
‘The transition is not concerned about the appearance of a conflict,’ said spokeswoman Hope Hicks in a call with reporters on Friday. ‘This is an annual celebratory event at the private club, like others that have continued to occur since the election.
‘Additionally, the president cannot and does not have a conflict.’
Very worrying, but surely we have seen this coming for many months. And it looks like policy (if The Donald actually has any) and diplomacy could be formulated or conducted through Twitter. We’ll probably have to become accustomed to comments or gut reactions on Twitter by the POTUS at 2 am. Unless someone confiscates his smartphone.
Is the use of a personal smartphone by the POTUS the same as a former Secretary of State using a personal email server, I wonder?
The US general election and the EU referendum in the UK highlighted an increasing discounting by politicians of factual detail and the opinions of experts. Former Justice Secretary Michael Gove (MiGo) claimed during the referendum campaign that ‘people in this country have had enough of experts‘. So, during the campaign, and particularly on the GOP side in the US election, there was an appeal to emotions rather than fact-based evidence. Yes, we entered the post-truth¹ age in 2016.
I came across this interesting quote by American astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson: Any time scientists disagree, it’s because we have insufficient data. Then we can agree on what kind of data to get; we get the data; and the data solves the problem. Either I’m right, or you’re right, or we’re both wrong. And we move on. That kind of conflict resolution does not exist in politics or religion.
Among the many scientific concerns I have about The Donald’s agenda are his perspectives on climate change. He comes across be arch-denier in chief. Now, I have been speaking and publishing about climate change and its impacts on agriculture since 1990. I am firmly in the camp of the thousands of experts who have asserted the certainty of man-made climate change: based on solid data collected and analysed over decades. As deGrasse Tyson also commented: The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.
It looks like Trump and his prospective Cabinet will be the neo-Luddites of 2017.
So, although I look forward to 2017, my natural optimism is tempered however, with some caution. But I am optimistic that, sooner rather than later, The Donald is likely to fall flat on his face. He won’t be able to help himself. After all, a ‘leopard can’t change his spots’.
¹ Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief:
- ‘in this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire’
- ‘some commentators have observed that we are living in a post-truth age’