Liberia at a Crossroads II – In the Era of Donald Trump

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The United States of America has again arrived at a crossroads in its history unveiling the era of its 45th President, Donald John Trump.

The presidency of Donald Trump comes with the load of many consequences as he assumes office with a sweeping conservative mandate – one greater than any other Republican president in modern history. Trump assumed the mantle in Washington on January 20th with the full consummation of conservative Republican rule of all three branches of the United States Government, buttressed by Republican local government control of 33 of the 50 states, and ultimately, the Supreme Court. With this mandate, he is set to enforce a party platform which heralds protectionism while embracing policies akin to the norms of xenophobia, and separatism.

Trump ascended to the helm of the world’s most powerful nation in an election process which undoubtedly shook the foundations of political punditry, while defying every rule of conventional electoral predictability. With no compunction, he treaded a muddy path of bombastic rhetoric never before seen in the arena of American political discourse. In spite of this unconventional approach, he managed to eke out a borderline victory by way of the U.S.
Electoral College, even after losing the popular vote by a margin of nearly 3 million. His victory bespeaks the will of the American people even in the face of grudging controversy. Hence, the smooth transition leading to his inauguration will be historically marked as a glowing testament of the sanctity of the U.S. democratic system.

For political observers, it comes as no surprise that the Trump presidency has already generated an unprecedented wave of global concern, and activism. Hours after he took the oath of office on the stairs of the U.S. Capitol, his tenure was greeted by utter rejection as millions took to the streets in peaceful protest. From the streets of major capitals on every continent extending to the icy shores of Antarctica, the signs and placards of protestors were held high in stark resentment to the new leader of the free world. This unusual greeting came at the heels of a grueling campaign and transition period which brought forth the worst form of political antics, the likes never before seen in the course of conventional politics.

The global reaction to the Trump presidency is not without reason. The pronounced approach to global affairs by the new leadership in the White House with regards to possible sanctions on both NATO, and the United Nations has lifted the eyebrows of U.S. allies around the globe. The message was reinforced with the recent announcement of new protectionist policies on trade and immigration, signaling the dawn of a new day in Washington. This change of direction in Washington has consequently triggered a reset in the foreign policy approach of U.S. friends, and foes with an impact likely to tilt the scales of global markets. Hence, a jittery climate of uncertainty now looms across the globe, especially among U.S. allies whose standing in multilateral military, and trade accords have been shaken to the core by the new American president.

For Liberia, a “traditional friend” of the United States, this reset comes with huge tolls and potential repercussions which have already ignited the concern of Liberians both at home and abroad. This wave of uncertainty is focused upon the future of U.S. – Liberia relations with respect to foreign aid, and post war stability. It extends further to economic sustainability as it relates to the survival and status of tens of thousands of Liberian immigrants in the United
States whose yearly remittances amount to hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars – the largest source of foreign direct aid to Liberia.

It also comes at a precarious moment in postwar Liberia where economic opportunities are minimal in a land bereft of employment options, with a shrinking economic floor. Given the significant role of the United States government in preserving Liberia’s peace and stability over the years, this global reset could throw the prospects for sustained stability in the corner of uncertainty with the impending departure of the UN peace keeping forces in the next 15 months.

Africa’s oldest republic in its 170th year of independence should not be shaken to its core by the aftermath of a domestic political earthquake occurring 6 thousand miles away from its shores. Sadly this reality persists because of an unending reliance on foreign aid which often comes with many trappings. However, it may be a rude awakening, but with gainful ends, if it propels the nation to seek innovative methods of self-development, and tap into the wellspring of its own resources for maximum results.

This moment also presents the opportunity for sober reflection with a chance to confront the stubborn challenges to social and economic development in Liberia. It could signal the beginning of the end of a paralyzing era of dependency which has defined a promising nation for centuries, and deprived its citizenry of the zeal to achieve the fullness of their potential as a people.

The reality of unfolding events in Washington should warrant the concern of citizens and leaders alike. Nonetheless, the uncertainties of the moment should render no cause for hopelessness. At this crossroads, a new course could be charted to finally steer a nation lost on the path of dependency towards a future of self-determination and long awaited development.

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