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David Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has condemned Trump’s proposed state visit to the UK, declaring he is “not welcome in the UK, particularly not in Cambridge.” This is on the grounds that “his views are dangerous and divisive” and “he has shown no sign of being capable of international collaboration.”

Zeichner needs to get his head out of the clouds and step down from the moral high ground. Granted, May’s timing is rather baffling, especially given the wave of popular outrage in response to Trump’s working visit last year. But official state visits are necessary procedures, and nothing more than that.

No one is denying that Trump’s social conservatism and his very chauvinistic brand of protectionism too often constitute blatant racism and misogyny. But we have to recognise that in spite of this, he is the democratically-elected leader of the free world. Admittedly, Clinton won the popular vote, but he ultimately became the president of the United States lawfully, and his presidency is accepted as such. He is not an oppressive or corrupt tyrant. As hard as it may be for us to swallow, the American people voted in Trump as their president, and his campaign promises including a withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, aggressive protectionism, a Muslim ban, deportation of immigrants and a wall along the US-Mexico border.

In a post-Brexit world, we simply cannot sever ties with the US. The so-called ‘Special Relationship’ matters now more than ever

MPs, as our political representatives, should see this upcoming state visit for what it is: a necessary diplomatic courtesy between one democracy and another. We have entertained far worse than Trump: Zimbabwe’s Mugabe and Romania’s Ceauşescu just to name a couple. Criticisms of Trump’s right-wing radicalism, draconian border policy and failure to protect marginalised groups is entirely valid and we should respect those who are protesting. But ultimately, I believe that we have to think in the long term; maintaining a close relationship with the US even after Trump leaves office is essential. Shutting him out is fruitless and will be counter-productive in the long run.

Firstly, in a post-Brexit world, we simply cannot sever ties with the US. The so-called ‘Special Relationship’ matters now more than ever. Trump’s proposed trade deal is by no means ideal. The fledgling negotiations ground to something of a halt last year when it emerged that his aversion to environmental and ethical regulation would mean British supermarkets could become filled with American chlorinated chicken, GM wheat and meat pumped with hormones.

But unfortunately, the cold, hard reality is that Trump’s proposed deal is better than no deal at all. We have to keep up a dialogue with America about trade — or Trump might get bored and move on.

Secondly, we should remind ourselves that mutual international cooperation - particularly in the form of rational, civilised debate - is an important tenet of liberal democracy and liberal nationalism. Zeichner claims Trump isn’t capable of international collaboration. This may be so, but what we need to do is communicate, rationalise and ultimately seek to hold Trump to account. One could argue it is our responsibility to do so. If we feel that some of his policies and publicly-expressed views are problematic, the solution is to debate them out, not shut them out. Let’s try and convince Trump of the necessity of joining the Paris Agreement rather than lambasting him for his ignorance.

Any debate about American politics essentially constitutes anti-Trump rhetoric. No one is denying that this rhetoric is justifiable; but it is not productive. In some ways, it is symptomatic of our tendency to pigeonhole and divorce ourselves from those who we disagree with, rather than try and prove them wrong. So instead of labelling Trump as racist, sexist, transphobic, tactless and incompetent (all of that is old news), let’s bite back, convince him to see some sense, and try to get off the back foot in terms of negotiating a trade deal.

We are shooting ourselves in the foot by putting up a wall between us and America. Trump can put up all the walls he likes (as we have seen) but now that we are abandoning the EU, we really can’t afford to do the same. It is utterly fruitless to simply pretend Trump doesn’t exist and keep him away from our ‘perfect’, ‘shiny’ political world. Except it’s not so perfect and shiny at the moment, which leads us nicely onto my final point.


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Mountain View

J4MB should not be legitimised under the guise of free speech

We need to sort out our own mess before we start taking on the role of judge and jury. Who are we to shame America when we face our own problems regarding the treatment of minorities and marginalised groups? Yes, Trump flippantly vindicated Britain First, as Zeichner points out, but let’s not forget the real problem: that this organisation exists in the first place, and, for that matter, in our own backyard. Ultimately, we should all consider removing our noses from American domestic politics and shedding our unwarranted moral superiority - Daniel Zeichner included.

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