Anybody who pays the slightest amount of attention towards world politics will be a little concerned by the possibility of seeing Donald Trump elected as president of the United States. At present he is the clear frontrunner in the race to be the Republican candidate to stand in November’s vote, which means that he is clearly doing enough to convince the American people that he’s the right person to lead the country despite holding many divisive views.
His speeches are intended to be controversial. They are intended to be hard-hitting. They are intended to make some people look up and ask, ‘My goodness, did he really just say that?’. Just as is the case for UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom, he is saying the things that some – mainly working class – people truly believe, to the extent that they will be compelled to vote for him.
Now, as I am not from the United States I am not privy to all the policies that Trump has proposed during his arduous campaign, but some of the more widely reported pronouncements he’s come up with are nothing short of alarming, leaving myself and many others to question whether he is a fit and proper person to lead a nation such as the United States, and even whether he is mentally unstable.
He caused a lot of consternation with comments about abortion, but the most unbelievable of his remarks were made in late 2015 when he gave a speech insisting that as president he would build a ‘great, great wall’ along the border with Mexico, and also stated that he would implement a blanket ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
Speeches normally have to be carefully prepared and to some extent diplomatic and persuasive. Instead, he used powerful and coarse language to insult a huge percentage of not just the American population, but the world population.
Some of his sympathisers would say that he was speaking in the best interests of the country in the aid of national security, given the current prominence of the so-called Islamic State group. But to totally denigrate all members of what is a fine faith which should not be treated any differently to others just because of the actions of a terrible minority.
Such comments put plenty of world issues in jeopardy, not to mention diplomacy in the future. A man who came out with such proclamations, whether in the interests of gaining power or not, would always be taken up on what he said by other world leaders, a source of prejudice for any potential negotiations and peace talks. It may even harm the health of the infamous ‘special relationship’ between the United States and the United Kingdom.
It had me speculating whether Trump’s election as president may lead to a ‘Love Actually moment’, in other words an inspiring and rousing monologue in the manner of Hugh Grant, whose fictional Prime Minister made his position clear in no uncertain terms towards president Billy Bob Thornton in the 2003 film.
The speech, written by Richard Curtis, is one of its most memorable moments, and although done for comedic effect, has had an impact on British culture. Maybe Trump could come in for similar treatment from David Cameron, albeit with the use of much different phraseology.
Here is the Love Actually speech in full:
“I fear that this has become a bad relationship. A relationship based on the President taking exactly what he wants and casually ignoring all those things that really matter to, err… Britain.
We may be a small country but we’re a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that.
And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward, I will be prepared to be much stronger. And the President should be prepared for that.”
Cameron has already said something similar, responding to comments reportedly made by a member of the Russian government in September 2013 that Britain was ‘a small island that nobody listens to’. The Prime Minister made an impassioned defence of his nation, also using jovial and patriotic language.
It all just goes to show that speeches, and how they are conducted, do carry an incredible amount of weight and have done so for many, many years. Love Actually took the whole concept and turned it into a cultural phenomenon, while Trump and many of his political peers use it to appeal to the most radical, cynical thinkers in society. Persuasive arguments happen every day from the mouths of eloquent and poetic courtroom barristers, but it’s the use of language that will always continue to fascinate, regardless of a speaker’s agenda.