Belfast Telegraph

Vile Donald Trump a choirboy compared to some of our elected elite

The liberal-Left - North and South - love nothing more than demonising the US Presidential hopeful as a Right-wing, racist demagogue. But if he was implicated in the kidnapping and murder of a mother-of-10, his name wouldn't even be on the Republican ticket. Unlike here in Ireland

By Henry McDonald

Donald Trump provokes a mixed reaction among people in Britain and Ireland. Around the dinner party tables of liberal havens such as Hampstead in London, Ranelagh in Dublin, or anywhere across the River Lagan in leafy south Belfast, the billionaire wannabe US Presidential candidate causes those of a Leftist disposition to shriek in horror that the tycoon could enter the White House.

Aside from their scorn over his plans to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the US and ban all Muslims entering American territory, they fear that a Trump finger on the nuclear trigger could set off a new Cold War that would very quickly get dangerously hot.

They regard a Trump White House as existentially perilous as when that ham actor Ronnie Reagan won two terms as President for the Republican Party in the 1980s.

Just like Reagan and his gaffe-prone Presidency (think of Old Hoppo joking about bombing Russia in five minutes in a radio studio that triggered a Soviet nuclear alert, or calling Princess Diana "Princess David"), most ordinary people regard Trump as a total joke.

Yet here on this island we might want to ask ourselves if we have the right to be so smug when we dismiss Trump either as a bouffant-haired buffoon, or as the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.

Take a look at some of those the Irish electorate - North and South - have recently returned to parliaments in the Republic and Northern Ireland. And think again.

The voters of Co Louth has no problem not only re-electing Gerry Adams to the Dail, but also his running-mate Imelda Munster, in the recent poll in the South - this in the very same constituency where the body of IRA Disappeared victim Jean McConville finally turned up.

A very large proportion of the Louth electorate, equivalent to nearly 20,000 votes, paid no attention to questions over Adams' alleged role in the Belfast IRA leadership at the time of the mother-of-10's abduction, murder and burial in secret - the final act of this sordid episode from the early Troubles taking place in their own backyard.

Indeed, when you look at certain constituencies across the Republic, large sections of voters also had no problem with returning a man openly accused of corruption in one of the many public tribunals established in the South to investigate the "golden circle" links between politicians, business figures and builders during the 1990s.

In fact Michael Lowry TD, whom Fine Gael refused to run, and who instead stood as an independent in successive elections, topped the poll in his native Tipperary.

Moreover, for all the talk about new politics evolving in Northern Ireland, the odds on the sectarian stalemate that has marked previous Assemblies being broken seem far too high for a flutter.

The zero-sum game of keeping "themmuns" out has already kicked off again, with senior DUP representatives spooking the unionist electorate by raising the spectre of Martin McGuinness returning to Stormont, this time as First Minister rather than Deputy First Minister - a cynical tactic to corral pro-Union voters back into the DUP fold out of fear and tribal loathing of the other side.

We have a dysfunctional political system, where there is virtually no one on the Opposition benches - barring the UUP, the Greens and Jim Allister.

And we have a system of sectarian gridlock in which, if parties try to change the status quo even on issues which cut across the traditional political divide (say, for example, liberalising abortion law, or introducing gay marriage equality), the DUP, for instance, can exercise a veto to shoot progressive legislation down with a petition of concern.

Though we might scoff at the born-again Christian fundamentalists of the US Republican Party, especially those who believe in every word of the Bible and reject Darwin's Theory of Evolution, among the dominant political force in this region we have politicians who believe that the Earth is only a few thousand years old and that the Creationist narrative should be given equal footing to Evolution in schools.

Ironically, some DUP Assembly Members advance this unscientific "argument" while having their pictures taken at the Giant's Causeway where they are - quite literally - standing on geological evidence that contradicts Creationism.

Of course, Trump is a repellent demagogue who exploits genuine fears among blue-collar Americans about their livelihoods with his simplistic, nasty, racist sloganising.

And, yes, the billionaire Republican's anti-Muslim rhetoric is adding fuel to the flames of an already unstable world at a time when the West needs to be encouraging and supporting moderate Islam (the majority of its adherents) in the face of threats from extreme interpretations of that religion by the likes of Isis.

Yet, in this small corner of the Western Atlantic, far off the European continental mainland, some of the same values of Trump and his allies in the Grand Ol' Party are held dearly by large numbers of the local electorate.

Even on the issue of guns, some voters in Northern Ireland had no problem with the use of firearms for advancing a political cause while probably, at the same time, shrieking over the widespread availability of weapons in the United States.

How were - and are - they able to tut-tut at the gun lobby's influence on US Republicans, including Trump, when far too many of them once whooped and hollered here when an off-duty police officer was gunned down in cold blood? Or when a sectarian thug ran into a bar with an automatic weapon yelling "trick or treat" as he slaughtered the customers.

As for those in the liberal environs in the main cities of these islands, one of their major complaints against Trump's ever-growing influence on the campaign trail to become the most powerful man on Earth is the overweening power he exercises over the US media.

Perhaps, liberals, too, ought to reserve the same scorn they hold for Trump and his slavish devotees in the US media for some of their very own Left-wing heroes in journalism or academia who seem to have no problem regularly appearing on the pro-Vladimir Putin Russia Today, or on the English-language mouthpiece of the Mullahs' regime in Iran, Press TV.

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