Western commentators are aghast at the new ‘Trump Tower’ development. They shouldn’t be
Whether some people like it or not, US President Donald Trump has built a very powerful brand. It is highly unlikely that Trump would have won the Presidency of the United States, however improbable some of us thought it would be 18 months ago if the ‘Trump’ brand was not so well-known, and not just in America but across the world. After having won the Presidency, the Trump brand has become even stronger across the world. Yet, some look on with alarm at the induction of the Trump family into US politics and fear that the United States is becoming like a tinpot dictatorship where the leader of a country only pushes their own business and political agenda.
Sure, there are some valid concerns about how Trump’s family members have woven themselves into the state, something unique in modern American politics, although not unheard of in many other democracies including India, where familial links to politics are par for the course. Even though in his book, Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff outlines how surprised Trump him- self and also the rest of his family were as surprised as most others at their victory in the US Presidential election. It is not surprising that like many businessmen, Trump likes to keep it in the family, and it is not surprising that even after being elected, he has continued that way by keeping those closest to him, close to him. And given that Trump was elected on the promise that he would ‘drain the swamp’ in the US Capitol, by swamp he was referring to the long-entrenched special interests and lobby groups in Washington DC.
This sort of populism is not unheard of, even in India, Narendra Modi railed against the entrenched ‘Lutyens’ power-brokers. However, it is also true that one set of power- brokers is always replaced by another, whether it is New Delhi or Washington DC and in the latter, the power-brokers are Trump’s children, especially his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Donald Trump Jr, his elder son, who just visited India ostensibly to have dinner with customers of the Trump Towers in the NCR, is responsible for keeping the Trump brand going in real estate. It was rumoured that Trump Jr would speak on foreign policy, whether that was a canard spread by Trump’s foes or not, remains to be seen and at the end he only spoke of his business and allayed some fears about potential conflicts of interests.
However, Trump Jr is the same person accused of having met Russian influencers and had a damning message conversation with Julian Assange of Wikileaks and he might still have to answer a few questions in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 Us Presidential election. However, Trump still has a business to run and he trusts his son to run it for better or for worse and there will be increasing conflicts of interest especially with international projects. Trump Jr clarified that the Trump brand would take on no new projects for the time being. And on another note, are the Trump Towers the fillip that the luxury housing market in India needs?