The US after the midterm polls is deeply divided into three distinct groups - the Trump loyalists have consolidated their position; his opponents, the Democrats are regrouping themselves to block the President's agenda in the Congress and thus build their support base; and a new category of patriots, who wish to preserve democratic values and traditions in the US in the next two years so that fundamental changes are not made. This group follows the advice given by Senator McCain that the President should be heard and respected, but there should be no tribal loyalty to him and the citizens should act in the best interests of the nation.
The initial reaction to the unpredicted victory of President Trump was one of disbelief and a sense that it could be wished away and that the office would turn him into a statesman, who would get the right advice from experienced politicians, officials and diplomats. The initial protests died away soon enough because of the faith in the rule of law and the need to respect the decision of the majority through an established electoral system. But as the President waded into the ocean of issues, there was consternation that he was undoing much of the democratic legacy and destroying the network of international linkages of a Super Power. The concern changed to alarm after a year as he imposed a travel ban, proposed an America walled in by concrete and ideological barriers, abandoned carefully crafted international agreements, defied allies and sought to embrace traditional enemies. Frequent changes of advisers undermined the steel frame, which normally acts as a bulwark against aberrations of politicians.
The consequences of such developments in another country could be a revolt and a change of Government, but the United States has found an alternative to meet the challenge to maintain stability, security and prosperity. The country quietly divided in an unprecedented way, not on party lines, but by creating an invisible border between those who believe that President Trump would somehow deliver a great America by the end of his first or second term, those who want to impeach him and others, and those who have decided to keep the country moored to its original values by remaining steady despite the bewildering decisions of the President. The loyalists believe in their destiny and go along with him, the opponents continue their relentless battle against the President and the third group works behind the scenes to avoid undue damage to the fundamentals of the nation.
What has come to be known as the “Me-too Movement” illustrates the point well. Since the President was elected after the most serious charges were levelled against him, he has become immune to the charges, but the civil society has ensured again and again that such immunity is not available to other celebrities, even if they are powerful politicians, bureaucrats or film personalities. The nomination the President had made of a Supreme Court Judge, Brett Kavanaugh was in jeopardy because of the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford that he had assaulted her at a high school party 30 years ago when he was 17 and she was 16. Although the Republican majority prevailed and the judge was confirmed, the debate in the Senate conveyed a clear message that such accusations should not be taken lightly in the future.
The policies on North Korea, Russia, Cuba and Iran have also been called into question by one section or another and it is possible that they are being implemented at different levels with varying degrees of caution and disagreement. The 2+2 conversation in New Delhi showed that the American officials were not convinced about the brief given to them to press India to distance itself from Russia and China and to ostracise Iran. Consequently, the Joint Statement only highlighted the areas of agreement such as the defence partnership and the related Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). India must have also been relieved that the American pressure on Russia, China and Iran could be resisted, while salvaging the positions agreed on earlier.
The the three-way division of America makes it possible for the President to continue till he leaves office without jeopardising the image of America as a democratic, multicultural, liberal nation of opportunities for everyone, including migrants of all colours. The world should be grateful to people like the author of the anonymous op-ed in the ‘New York Times’, who declared, “ I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations”.
As an anonymous op-ed carried in the 'New York Times' revealed, the patriots in the White House are working quietly on issues from trade to NATO to prevent the President from implementing his erratic foreign policy proclamations. In this variation of the “Yes, Minister” tactics, some of these advisers are safeguarding American interests as they perceive them. For instance, they have diluted President Trump’s struggle with America’s European allies. Though the President Trump had a catastrophic summit with President Putin in Helsinki and threatened to pull out of NATO, serious and lasting trouble has been averted. The Administration has succeeded in maintaining America’s traditional commitments to Europe by convincing the President that he should not cut spending on NATO. Since some of these advisers are likely to be fired, we do not know whether the present ceasefire with Europe will be permanent. But a way has been found to speak his language of power and strength, but tweak the implementation as close to the traditional lines as possible.
The withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is the best example of damage control by the main actors such as the environmentalists, industries and the bureaucracy. They are acutely aware of the fact that such an important agreement is in the best interests of the United States. The US had won a big victory in the Copenhagen conference and subsequently by making the cuts of greenhouse gases voluntary for all countries, including developed countries. Since the President had the option to revise the voluntary commitment given by his predecessor, there was really no compulsion to walk out of the agreement. In fact, the actions initiated under the Paris Agreement are vital for the protection of the environment in the US itself and it will be regressive to reverse them simply because the President thought that the agreement was against the industry. The industry would rather build on the plans for renewable energy rather than return to fossil fuels to spite the Paris Agreement. Moreover, the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would leave the field open for China to build partnerships with European countries and others. Since there is still time for the withdrawal to be effective, the official agencies themselves are participating in environment negotiations and derive benefits from the new rules in the making. Certain states in the US are making their own plans for reduction of greenhouse gases in indirect defiance of the national policy.