Trump is now openly mocked and hated anywhere outside his protected space. This US presidency is tarnished, and the British government should want no part of it.
Donald Trump was keen, it is said, to be driven in the Queen’s gold-plated carriage down the Mall to Buckingham Palace during his state visit to the UK. He fancied having tea with Kate Middleton and a tour of the Churchill rooms. And golf of course. Such a visit has been postponed because it would cause such massive protests and policing problems. Despite Theresa May and Trump’s fumbled hand-holding, he is not welcome here. So unwelcome that if he wants to come, it will be a “sneak” visit. Yes, this is on the cards.
After he attends the G20 summit in Hamburg this week, before Bastille day on 14 July, for which he may be in France, there is a gap in his diary, and there are expectations he may use that time to visit Scotland. He would have to give 24 hours’ notice, and there would be a low-key meeting with May.
So if he is not lauded on the streets of London, he will have to be protected from the public if he wants to visit his golf courses in Scotland. This is the unbelievable reality of the American president, and like most things to do with Trump, it seems frighteningly unreal. As the gap between Trump’s self-image and how he is seen by others grows ever wider, this gulf becomes a dark and dangerous place full of fantasies of violence, vengeful and malevolent.
These fantasies are not hidden. He spills them directly on to Twitter, where they hold us in their appalling grip. We are battered by permanent shock. Did he actually say that? The latest one is a reedited video of him wrestling to the ground and pummelling someone with a CNN logo for a head. Trump’s wrath at the media is enacted in its crudest form, in what looks like an incitement to violence. Real reporters have been body-slammed and beaten remember.
To some extent, though, this state of permanent outrage disorientates us. Trump’s continuing violation of all decent or normal or indeed presidential boundaries only feeds the frenzy. To react is to play a game with no discernible rules. To not react is to lose any sense of morality.
Certainly Trump has already “normalised” threats of violence and openly vicious misogyny. He often spoke of violence at rallies, of punching people in the face, of opponents having to leave in stretchers. He stalked Hillary Clinton menacingly on stage, looming over her. His remarks about grabbing women are well known. His disturbing references to bleeding women continue, last week it was women who leak blood from their faces, in reference to TV presenter Mika Brzezinski. All of this is pretty terrifying.
In bypassing conventional media and tweeting his brains out in the early hours as part of the modern presidential brand, Trump promises his supporters the direct access that he denies reporters. This is pure unfiltered Trump. All else is mediated, fake and therefore legitimately to be dismissed. Such techniques have been used in Russia, where the truth is a moveable feast and several contradictory discourses work together at the same time.
There is indeed method in this madness, and mass distraction certainly works. Once more, we are talking about Trump’s wrestling video more than the travel ban. For the blurring of boundaries is a source of power.
What is right and what is true is relative, temporary and changeable as long as Trump stays in his self-contained world.
This is why any visit outside this protected space in which Trump is not absolute ruler is fraught with difficulty. He is openly mocked and hated. Activists have said that even with only 24 hours’ notice of a visit they will organise mass protests. Stop Trump. Many are on standby, so strongly do they feel. It is important that America sees that its leader is not just unwelcome but absolutely despised. He is not revered as a strongman, he is seen as an unstable despotic loser. The name of America is tarnished at home and abroad. We already know that whatever happens, Trump will invent his own reality in which he is loved and cherished and all-powerful. But protest can provide another narrative, another set of images that will undermine everything he says.
It is imperative to protest against both Trump’s presence and Trump’s lies. Any collusion by this government in these lies is shameful. He is not welcome in our name, however he plans to “sneak” in.