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PPP. That’s what you need to keep in mind if you are to understand American politics: Trump the Person; Trump the Policymaker; Trump the President. But first the background against which the current political drama is being played out here in America. Understand this, and the three Ps, and you might even be able to do what is clearly in Britain’s interest: invite the President of the United States to a Britain that now needs all the friends it can get, and receive him with civility if not enthusiasm.

Donald Trump: The Person is flawed, but the President has put the US on track (COVER ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL DALEY)

No one was more surprised at Trump’s electoral victory than the man himself, unless it was supporters of Hillary Clinton, a candidate who never did explain just why she wanted to be president and who continually badgered her team to come up with a theme for the pudding that was her campaign. How was it possible that this vulgar misogynist could beat Hillary Clinton, she the shatterer of glass ceilings; the defender of abortion on demand, financed if necessary by orders of Catholic nuns; and of young persons’ rights to choose their gender and their toilets regardless of gender; of the right of illegal immigrants to become American citizens. She was consort to beneficiaries of globalisation who filled her coffers with speaking fees, and representative of all that “deplorables”, as she called Trump supporters, find so offensive about the social agenda of the bicoastal liberal establishment. The Russians must have done it. Or the really dumb Founding Fathers who established an electoral system that gave voice to less densely populated states rather than rely entirely on the popular vote. No matter the cause, Trump is an illegitimate president.

Which means that the Democratic minority, with the support of an overwhelmingly liberal-establishment media, is not merely obligated to oppose those of his policies they deem not to be in the national interest, but to have him removed from office, preferably in handcuffs. The virulence of the attacks on the President makes the battle between Momentum and the Blairites seem tame by comparison. Trump’s response is to lash out indiscriminately at anyone who disagrees with whatever his whim-of-the-moment seems to be. His weapon of choice is the tweet, which a frustrated media must report, giving these short bursts of often incoherent, often nasty impulses an even wider audience. Trump supporters liken the tweets to FDR’s use of radio — the famous Fireside Chats — to go over the heads of a hostile press directly to the American people, but a better comparison would be to the “nya, nya, you’re one, too” response of a witless schoolboy to some disagreeable remark by a playmate.

So much for Trump the person, and why his natural propensity to lie — not so much to lie, but to invent an alternative “truth” in which he really, really believes — and to substitute invective for reason, is justified by his supporters. To that 35 to 40 per cent of the electorate, largely white, rural, poor or middle class, religious and male, Trump might be a sinful New York property developer claiming to be a billionaire, but, oddly, he is “one of us”, to borrow a descriptive once popular in Britain, eager to poke a finger in the eye of the elites who remain unaware of our existence and problems.
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