Well it’s certainly been an interesting couple of months hasn’t it?
President Donald Trump hasn’t wasted any time since being sworn in, and has already fulfilled several big campaign promises. Perhaps the most controversial of these has been the “Muslim ban”, an executive order temporarily preventing citizens of 7 Muslim majority countries from entering America, even if they have a visa. In response people have taken to the streets to protest in cities across the country, and yet another one of these pointless online petitions, calling for Trump’s state visit to The UK to be cancelled, has gained over a million signatures and triggering a debate in Parliament. Some are even calling for an academic boycott of American universities, which is especially stupid, and almost certainly would be more harmful to the cause than helpful. These people thankfully are a small minority at the moment, but if the president carries on the same controversial way I imagine that these calls will resurface it some point.
In my opinion this executive order is absolutely disgusting, and I do agree that Theresa May and the British government should be responding more strongly to it. But choosing not to work with him at all would in my view, be a huge mistake. The United States is our most important military ally, and people regularly move back and forth between our nations. They are also a hugely important trading partner, and as we leave the European Union over a next couple of years, this trading relationship is going to become more important than ever. If Brexit is ever going to be successful, then this is the point where we need to be reaching out to leaders all over the world and building new relationships. To not invite one of these leaders for a state visit at this most crucial of times, would be economic and political suicide.
It’s also important to remember that most Americans are just as appalled by this situation as we Brits are. Trump of course won the presidency by gaining the most Electoral College votes, but Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Most voters did not back him in the election, and instead chose to reject his brand of divisive politics. I studied abroad at the University of North Carolina, and it was probably the most liberal and tolerant place I’ve ever been. As with Sussex’s current boycott of Israeli institutions, all refusing to engage with these places would accomplish is shutting out thousands of students and staff that are on YOUR side! We need to stand in solidarity with these people, and that unfortunately includes talking to their president.
In an ideal world perhaps we would be able to completely ignore this vile human being and his politics of division, but we do not live in an ideal world. It may always not be pleasant to work with President Trump, but we owe it to the vast majority of decent Americans to at least try.