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For the weak and vulnerable, Trump’s presidency will be a test of survival


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Few would argue that Duncan DeLoach, a 22-year-old from Fairfax, Virginia, who two years ago discovered his testicular cancer has spread all across his body, was in any way lucky.

Yet DeLoach was fortunate in that he was covered by his father's health insurance, provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - better known as Obamacare. The now former-president's best known policy insured Duncan could undergo the aggressive regime of chemotherapy he required without having to worry about medical costs. And although the system has its flaws, it is almost certain that without it, Duncan would not have lived to see Obama's successor take office.

So it is easy to understand the concern felt by Duncan and his family as they face the prospect of a Republican-controlled government intent on destroying anything associated with Obama's presidency. One of Donald Trump's many brash campaign pledges was to repeal the landmark health care act on which Duncan’s life depends, but like so many others, the DeLoach family never thought he would be elected. The apparently likely prospect of a Clinton win insured little time was spent worrying on what a Trump presidency would be like, and a lot of time scoffing at what an awful, awful guy he is.

Now the improbable has become reality, and no one seems more surprised than the star of the show himself. Recall the expression on Donald Trump’s face upon meeting President Obama the day after the election? This is a man still coming to terms with the fact that he will now have to put his dumb pledges into effect.

More delighted than surprised are the Republicans now calling the shots in both Houses of Congress, who realise what a useful (if volatile) idiot they have in the new leader of the free world. Most of them share Trump’s ambitions to dump Obamacare, cut taxes for the wealthy, and insure the political system remains unreformed, but it will be them, and not the Prez, who make these desires a reality.

Trump won’t need much help in repealing each of Obama’s 32 executive orders, one of which removed the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented migrants. But both he and Congress may have a difficult time building the infamous wall across the southern US border, something Trump insists Mexico will pay for. Whether he succeeds in this ambition or not, it is already clear his America will be defined by lenience and indulgence for the wealthy and demonization and destabilisation for the poor and unhealthy, whether they are already citizens or aspire to be ones.

On the world stage, we can expect Trump to show disregard to international problems such as climate change, institutions such as NATO and the EU, and countries such as China and the Arab states. His general incuriosity about the Middle East, and his shameful inability to tell the difference between an economic migrant and a refugee, suggests the victims of the Syria quagmire will not find an ally in the new President of the United States. Although adopting isolationism, a policy not practised by the US since Pearl Harbour, may in fact please a war-weary public at home, it may only embolden other powers, such as Vladimir Putin’s increasingly imperialist Russia, to meddle in areas in which he does not belong.

That said, the one thing which may define Trump’s presidency is what won’t get done, rather than what will. It seems likely that the many problems facing America at the moment, such as gun violence, lack of stable jobs and a worrying rise of racism, will be allowed to deteriorate under Trump’s watch rather than be tackled.

This is all speculation at this stage, of course, and America is renowned for its capacity to surprise, but it seems fair to say that the presidency of a man who has spent his life treating people like fast-food meals, to be used for a purpose and then hastily discarded, will not be a pretty one. The irony is that people such as Duncan DeLoach, who is nothing in the eyes of the man with Obamacare in his sights, actually understands something about power which Trump himself does not. Sometimes, in certain positions of great influence, you really do have control over life and death.

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