Reporter Richard Chambers travels accross the US to understand what’s happening and what it means for all of us around the world watching...
“When the unexpected meets with the unprepared, we find the greatest astonishments!”
Donald Trump has probably never heard that old saying, and if he did he might describe it as an ‘Irish proverb’.
The balance, however, between the unexpected and the unprepared is a fair critique of the 45th American president’s opening days on the job.
He has found his radical plans to put ‘America First’ hit pothole after pothole. Whether it be the judicial block on his travel ban, the defeat of his Obamacare replacement or the early resignation of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Donald Trump could not have anticipated the backlash he has experienced across the board.
It’s left the President besieged but still resolute. “I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency”, he told reporters on Air Force One last week.
It’s a bold claim (not least because he’s only been in power for 11 weeks) but no US President has ever provoked such division and devotion in such a short space of time.
Between now and his 100th day on April 29th, Newstalk will be travelling across the US hearing from those at the frontline of the Trump agenda.
We’ll meet Syrian refugees who fled to the sanctuary of America and now face an uncertain future and the fear of being sent back to the bloody war that split their families and destroyed all they knew and loved.
Newstalk will also visit the Mexican border, ground zero for President Trump’s signature policy of a ‘great wall’. What do people living in the long shadow of the current fence feel about plans to change their landscape forever? And what do the Mexicans crossing the frontier feel about their blacklisting?
We’ll meet the Irish; just some of the 50,000 undocumented immigrants from our country who left to make a new start in the United States and now sit terrified in their cars at traffic stops, fearing incarceration and deportation.
The rise of Donald Trump was the product of a lot of pent-up frustration and a sense of abandonment in white working class communities, particularly in the Rust Belt where American industry drove its rise to superpower status.
Now the coal pits have been abandoned, the steel mills have been shut and a deathly pall of opiate addiction has ravaged communities which have long felt abandoned by the big cities and power-brokers of the east and west coasts. What brought them to vote for Donald Trump? How do they grade his opening actions? Will they be made great again?
Along the way we’ll see the impact the change of direction has had on America’s military, its intelligence community and the Washington establishment so chastised by Trump supporters as ‘the swamp’.
If Trump’s election was a political earthquake, what’s followed across these groups and more has been a seismic aftershock that’s driven a rift between ideologies, races and communities across the United States like never before.
At this uncertain time, we want to understand what’s happening to America and what it means for all of us around the world watching and waiting to see just how far-reaching the uncertainty across the Atlantic will be.