It’s unlikely, but petition number 114003 to Block Donald J Trump from UK entry, has crashed the government website several times, and has become the most popular petition with over half a million signatures at the time of writing.
This all comes with Trump declaring that there should be a “…total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” which borders on discrimination.
The fact is not all Muslims are terrorists, and what would Trump do with the Muslims who are American citizens? One of the San Bernardino shooters was born in the US and an American citizen, so how would the proposed legislation have prevented him from carrying out his criminal act?
So far the response has been to show disapproval at the discriminatory and crude remarks, but he has been stripped of his honorary degree from the Robert Gordon University, a Dubai firm has removed his name from their golf complex, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister has stripped him of his status as a Scottish ambassador for business, and a Dubai store has removed items with his name from his shelves. Most of this won’t faze him or even put a dent in his pocket, but will he be welcomed in Muslim countries? Can he continue to do business there as he has declared he would continue to do so? Isn’t this a case of double standards?
The main concern is that there are people who support him, and while Congress has tightened the rules governing the visa waiver scheme (those without visas from certain countries that could have used the scheme must now apply for a visa). The bill HR158 may or may not be temporary, but one should remember a visa does not guarantee entry into a country. This would affect those who travel for business, visiting family or friends, as they must now apply for visas that cost more, and also take longer to process.
Maybe Trump is appealing to the Americans who are afraid, but what it does is show that there is a sector of society that are openly xenophobic. Most people may think it, but they don’t publicly declare it, especially if you are a political figure. The question is whether the Republican party will back him, as many of the other contenders do not share his view. Trump has lost all the Muslim votes, but I doubt that will concern him. What I would say to those who support this, is “How will this action help with relations of your Muslim neighbors or coworkers, those who are US born and legal US citizens? What if your next door neighbor is a Muslim, or the cashier at the store—how will they feel if you support Trump? Will you stop your child speaking or talking to Muslim classmates?”
The UK petition is more of a protest against Trump’s unfounded remarks declaring London has unsafe Muslim areas where the police are afraid to go to. It was mere rhetoric for effect. Trump maybe an excellent and ruthless businessman, but how skilled is he in politics? He may be telling the people what they want to hear, but what people want, and what is legally and morally permissible are separate things. One must remember that the President is elected via the Electoral College, and many Republicans have already discredited Trump on the banning of Muslims. Those in Congress are accountable to the people who elect them, and they all want to keep their jobs.
Even if Trump wins the popular vote, it doesn’t mean that he can win the Presidency. It’s possible he may get nominated, but when it comes to the 538 votes (435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 senators, plus 3 electors from the District of Columbia) they don’t have to vote for the party, but who will be the best President. If the GOP wants to win, they need to look at who stands the best chance of getting those votes.
Alienating a sector of the electorate on religious grounds probably hasn’t helped Trump, but his latest declaration has been to impose the death penalty to all cop killers. He’s making sweeping statements that would be impossible to carry out. In this case the death penalty has been abolished in 19 states already and comes under state law and not federal law, depending on the actual crime. Even in states where the death penalty exists, it is up to the District Attorney to decide, and that is part of the judicial process, not something a President should get involved in. States have never liked federal interference in their laws, and no President who understands the system would attempt to alienate a state if they wished to keep their job. Again, he is appealing to a certain sector of the electorate who wish to hear this, but without the knowledge that a President doesn’t have the power to execute federal law. An executive order can be stuck down by the courts and are subject to judicial review if they are not supported by the Constitution. Can the electorate tell the difference between actual policies and random remarks that strike a chord? The damage has already been done—some Americans admit they discriminate by backing Trump. While I value free speech, does this mentality show that humanity and society have progressed, or that it hasn’t really changed at all?