Taking a look at the way things are going on Capitol Hill and in Westminster, we cannot help but fix our gaze on the heads of State: the President and the Prime Minister.
Both Theresa May and Donald Trump are being faced with issues and policies and just overall getting their desires across completely struck down and disregarded but their respective legislatures, yet both offer very different, almost opposing reactions.
Though the US government shut down has come to an end, Trump’s insatiable lust for his border wall has not subsided. According to the Independent, “Donald Trump has indicated he is likely to declare a national emergency when a federal government funding deal runs out later this month, dismissing talks with Democrats as “a waste of time”. The president said he had “set the stage” for action to sidestep congress to secure $5.7bn (£4.4bn) for a wall on the US-Mexico border, as the prospect of a second government shutdown looms. Mr Trump last week signed off on a federal spending bill that reopened federal government departments until the 15th of February following the longest shutdown in US history, and is still prepared to fire back. “
Meanwhile in the UK, May is scrambling to reach a deal before the deadline date as the Guardian recorded her defeat earlier in January as “the heaviest parliamentary defeat of a British PM in the democratic era” after her Brexit deal was rejected by a resounding 230 majority.
As if that wasn’t painful enough, “MPs have voted against a proposal to delay Brexit in order to prevent the UK leaving without a deal”, which was put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper but rejected by 23 votes. May continues to urge MPs to support another amendment that would bring “alternative arrangements to the controversial Irish backstop plan”. This was the key reason in the striking down of May’s Brexit deal and MPs were worried that it would leave the UK tied to the EU’s rules forever. Unsurprisingly, May stated that “she knew there was a “limited appetite” in the EU for changes to the deal, but she believed she could “secure it”, according the BBC news.
Both Trump and May are simultaneously dealing with rejection from their legislature but are both handling it differently. Here’s the challenging question: who’s behaviour is most effective?
Do we dare to say that Trump’s stubbornness, or better yet, assertiveness and diligence, is what we need in a political leader? That he does not roll over or cower in defeat when he has promised to build a border wall to limit illegal migration? If we blind ourselves to the day-to-day critiques on social and mainstream media made in regards to his policy, all we see is a tenacious President who refuses to back down on a policy based on an issue he’s passionate about without a fight.
On the other hand, May is in a place where she is desperately seeking bipartisanship and solid support on an appropriate Brexit deal that will please at least the majority of people both in and outside of Westminster. After having her first deal struck down, and surviving a vote-of-no-confidence that took place almost immediately after the historic defeat, May still continues to make the effort to get talking with Jeremy Corybn and to other party leaders, in an attempt to reach a mutual agreement.
Understanding both leadership approaches to rejection helps to educate us when seeking to vote for our next Prime Minister or President, looking at the prospect of political integrity in conjunction with the opinions we have towards their policy. One could argue however that the nature of the policy, the personalities of the leaders and the checks and balances of the legislative process have an impact on how both Trump and May approach their respective circumstances.
Nonetheless, the world is watching.