It’s always fascinating to see political debates in public, garnering emotions that rule over people taking part, whether on stage or in the audience. Last night’s Intelligence Squared debate on the subject of President Trump’s first hundred days in power was no exception.
Award-winning Newsnight journalist Emily Maitlis calmly & expertly narrated the debate between British journalist Melanie Philips & broadcaster James Delingpole on the ‘for’ side and Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland & political commentator James Rubin on the ‘against’ side.
The points veered between the following:
- Trump is the work in progress & he is on a steep learning curve
- Next to nothing good happened in Trump’s first 100 days in power
- Incompetence is his hallmark
- The future is bright, the future has orange skin
- Gut is telling Trump the right thing, but his brain is still catching up with it
- President Trump is a stranger to the truth
- Trump is not Barack Obama, nor is he Hilary Clinton
- 100 days aren’t long enough to judge a person in such an important position
- Bragging & loose lips kill people
- Trump is part of a club defending the undefendable
- Trump is not the leader, as he throws democratic freedoms out of the window
- It’s arrogant to judge Ttrump from an audience in London
- Trump speaks for a lot of Americans
While President Trump & his actions & tweets remain ever so divisive, I find it sad & frustrating that there seems a widening gap between Russia & the US, at least judging by the political stage actions & press pages. I was raised with respect for people irrespective of their nationalities & never viewed America as the enemy, no matter the press rhetoric, so to hear Russia be called ‘hostile state’ by Jonathan Freedland is deeply disheartening. I am very much looking forward to the June IQ2 debate with him & Russian broadcaster & interviewer Vladimir Posner, which will be again narrated by Emily Maitlis, on the subject of ‘Is it time to bring Russia in from the cold?’.
I believe that countries, no matter their size, when represented by their leaders or people who have weight in society due to their professional stature, should engage in an open dialogue & not accusatory monologues, which only lead to further anger that the world certainly doesn’t need. Evgenyi Primakov & Madeleine Albright were formidably respected representatives of their countries on the diplomatic stage & actually helped bring Russia & US closer together due to the strength of their experience, dignity & intelligence. It was upsetting to hear anger in James Rubin’s voice when he talked about President Putin & Russia’s role on world stage, including potential implication in Hilary Clinton’s presidential bid smear campaign. Shouldn’t the rules of play be the same for everyone? Doesn’t US do the same when it comes to Russia? And whose purpose does it actually serve to widen the gap between the two nations, rather than brining them closer together? Simmering anger & mud throwing, mixed with the facts that at times that we don’t know the origin of or online leaks, affect the perception of people around the world, ultimately further unsettling the precious balance of the world.
Judging by the announcement of the results from the audience on the debate, President Trump, not surprisingly, is viewed overwhelmingly negatively. He has been a divisive character long before he was elected as an American President & judging by his actions since he stepped into the highest US office of power, he shows no sign of changing that trend. What surprised me yesterday was to read on my Twitter feed on my way home after the debate that Hilary Clinton formed a political group ‘Onward Together’ to oppose Trump’s presidency. The group will aim to gather support to oppose the presidency of the officially elected US President & will raise funds for potential candidates to see their ambitions through & run for local office on progressive-based agendas. Irrespective of the nationality or gender, people with power most often than not aren’t keen to let go of it once they experience the power of the limelight.
As a regular person not privy to any diplomatic insight, I can only judge things based on what I hear or read, but more & more often I question who & what sources of information to trust, as everyone seems to have hidden or innate agendas. Information was certainly limited when I was growing up in Soviet Russia & now we all seem to be drowning in it, often not being able to determine what’s fact & what’s fiction. I do agree with James Rubin on this: during the debate he said that when he was growing up, his father instilled many wonderful values in him, like work very hard & you will succeed in America, the land of opportunity. He struggles with saying the same thing to his son. But I can say the same, comparing what my father taught me & what I can now teach my own son. Politicians might represent their nation in high office, but they can’t speak for all of us. And yes, often the people we personally didn’t vote for win the election or worse, people who we voted for actually truly let us down. Debates are all very well, but do they help us understand each other better & move closer together in the face of the increasingly changing status quo of the world? For me that’s the question that I left pondering after the debate.
p.s On the subject of leaks & security: while watching ITV’s news reports last night I heard one country being mentioned, where a potential source, who shared his or her information with the American intelligence, was based. A totally different country was mentioned during the debate. Comes down to the question who to trust & who to believe, otherwise it becomes a child’s game of ‘he said, she said’.