- 05 Jun 19
The alleged President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, lands in Ireland today. Here, the playwright, songwriter and singer, Sean Millar of The Unelectables, on the importance of protesting against him, and what he represents.
I remember before Trump was elected everyone was talking about it like it was a joke.
Nobody took it seriously. Nobody thought that he’d even get the Republican nomination. As a result, no one took the things he said seriously. Now of course, we’ve seen that he’s a very dangerous joke.
I laugh myself at the things he says, or things Boris Johnson says. They breeze through irony. But it’s important to constantly press back when you have someone like Trump in power. The humour of outrage is what these guys do, it’s one of their weapons and we have to cut through that – without giving up our own sense of humour.
That’s why protests are so important. To have a climate change denier who is proactively trying to do a work-around for the fossil fuel industry in a situation where we have a decade to try to fix things, is terrifying. So if you work for Big Oil or one of those massive financial sectors, he’s a perfect spokesman.
SCARY KIND OF JOKE
Obviously if you had someone serious doing that they’d be ripped to shreds. But Trump can make his detractors look humourless. So I really think that voicing our dissent and the humour people use to express that is important because it counteracts the accusations of ‘humourlessness’. Using humour to protest Trump is the absolute best method.
One of the things about extreme politicians, however, is that they provoke a lot of interesting discussion, on topics such as the limits of democracy. For example, I know lots of very reasonable people who would be delighted if Trump were assassinated. On the other hand, people tend to be despairing about protest and think it doesn’t work.
But I believe it does work, because effective protests make the subject you’re protesting about hot political topics for the ruling parties. Irish-America, for example, is huge. And horrible though it is, lots of Irish-Americans voted for Trump. So, if a lot of Irish-Americans see that we view him as a very scary kind of joke, that could communicate a very powerful message to the diaspora. I certainly hope so.
WHAT’S LEFT IS PROTEST
Personally, I don’t welcome Donald Trump to Ireland, but I’m not sure how I feel about Trump being allowed to visit. Pragmatically it would be an extremely difficult position for the Irish government to take to say, ‘No, you can’t come’ or ‘We won’t meet you’. So you have to look at what’s left short of that – and what’s left is protest.
If there isn’t any force expressing dissent, democracy starts to go very wrong. Protest is an essential part of any democratic space, and ultimately, you have to use it or lose it. That’s why I support the protests against Donald Trump.
In conversation with Aoife Bradshaw.