America’s precarious fling with Trump

America’s precarious fling with Trump Featured

Second of 4 parts

THIS article was submitted for publication four days before the US elections. Vote counting is ongoing, with partisans on both sides spinning whatever half-data is being captured by their respective media outlets: Fox News for Trump and CNN and MSNBC for Biden. In any case, the counting of the votes may take days or even weeks before the eventual winner is declared. And as Trump has planned all along, this will go to the courts.

America has degenerated to the status of a Third World country. Except for a massive voter suppression to negate Biden’s lead, the same playbook used in his successful 2016 campaign was simply recycled for 2020 substituting Biden for Hillary. Trump’s chant “Lock her up!” on Hillary’s indiscretions on the use of a private email server is now “Lock him up!” for a set of tapes of Hunter Biden’s personal email alleging anomalous payments to Joe Biden. Unless voter turnout for either candidate is overwhelming, particularly in the electoral college, this contrived voting fraud will precipitate chaos spilling out to the streets.

Trump’s dysfunctional election campaign
Trailing by double digits in the national polls and substantial margins in the swing states for the critical 270 electoral votes, the Trump campaign could not craft coherent messages that would resonate with the wider American voters. Thus, he reverts instead to his 2016 self-description as a “very stable genius” — presiding over an unprecedented US economic growth, one he actually inherited from President Obama. Except at this time, America’s economy is in shambles in the wake of the pandemic. And this is where the Donald’s leadership miserably failed, selling an ambiguous narrative in the twilight zone; repeating a dangerous mantra that the pandemic is “turning a corner” and may soon be over, glossing over the 250,000 deaths and the recent spike of infections in more than 40 states. Because of Trump’s bungling, erratic leadership and his continuous state of denial, American deaths may add another 200,000 before a transition government comes in on Jan. 20, 2021 — if ever there is one.

In a rambling sermon on the “700 Club,” the Rev. Pat Robertson, éminence grise of white evangelicals, predicted a win for Trump. Accordingly, after being sworn in, America will be torn apart by civil disobedience. Taking advantage of the chaos, China, Russia and North Korea will threaten war. And Iran will invade Israel. To cap it all, there will be two unsuccessful assassination attempts on Trump. Incongruently, a 1-kilomete radius asteroid will hit the earth. Then peace. And Jesus will descend in fulfillment of Isaiah 2:2-4 and Thessalonians 5:2-3. (Pat Robertson prophecy on 2020 US presidential elections and the aftermath – YouTube.)

Despite this foolish man’s incoherence, I am confident America will elect Joe Biden as its 46th president. This may be construed as a bias toward Biden. This is not entirely correct. I rely on various polls and surveys predicting a Biden win. I am not emotionally invested in either candidates, although I followed Trump’s colorful journey towards perdition, evaluating America’s exodus from its adherence to their founding fathers’ republican democratic ideals to what could simply be described as Trumpism — a compendium of warped beliefs underpinning a cult of personality, producing policies centered on the whims, caprices and behavior of this narcissistic US president. Overall, a perversion of the once vaunted conservative leanings of the Republican Party.

Four years of Trump
Trumpism entered American contemporary political lexicon carrying with it its vilest components that may permeate and divide the Republican party for years to come, its core belief indelibly etched in the 20 to 30 percent of what Hillary once described as a “basket of deplorables.”

Central to Trumpism is the inordinate unethical role of family at the center of power. The White House is treated as a family corporation where the president is the CEO and his children occupying positions straddling government and private business. Primus inter pares are daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared. These two were given responsibility and authority beyond their competence, continuing to dabble in their family enterprise while assuming high government posts. It is to the great chagrin of observers of US politics that a blatant display of nepotism with all its implications for rent-seeking are tolerated and even sanctioned by the Republican party of Trump.

Akin to a corporate structure, the appointed personnel populating the center of power, cabinet posts, presidential advisers, consultants, etc., are presidential alter egos invariably subject to his impulses, inclusive of his flaws and are simply absorbed by these sycophants.

Those that are defiant may find themselves outside the sphere of influence. So far this has resulted in close to 30 of the president’s men and women and simple “gofers” fired, some on a whim and others indicted or languishing in prison.

But the greater damage this dysfunctional cabal’s four-year fling with governance is that on America’s cherished political institutions. The separation of powers between the branches of government — one of the bedrocks of its democracy, providing for checks and balances — has been upended by Trump’s total dominance of the upper house. He has no compunction to bend the Senate to his will. What is tragic is oftentimes its acquiescence, as in the hypocritically hasty Senate confirmation of Amy Barrett to the US Supreme Court. Critical election disputes before the bar could be tilted in Trump’s favor.

Racism and bigotry
Racism and bigotry are Trump’s legacy after four years. From the very first day when he decided to run for president, he has signaled his intentions by playing to the fears of a small but loud segment of the American populace, one that could be described as WASP — “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants” — a quaint description of the once dominant upper-class with a disproportionate economic and political influence in American society. Popularized in the 1960s, particularly during the civil rights movements, this profile may no longer be exactly applicable with the drastic change in the country’s demographics. But in the wake of his Black American predecessor, he singularly revived immigration issues and by inference the racial divide with his promise to “build a wall — and Mexico will pay for it.”

This highly racist opening gambit was followed by his election promise to ban the entry of Muslims.

Trump’s racism and bigotry (R&B) often surfaces in his bold irresponsible pronouncements consistently throughout his administration as with his praise for a white nationalist violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 with his infamous phrase about “very fine people” on both sides. And in January 2018, the African Union demanded an apology when he described people from Haiti and El Salvador as being from “shithole” nations, asking why America can’t have more immigrants from (white) Norway.

The year 2016 was meant to usher in a paradigm shift rejecting “politics as usual and draining the swamp” by installing a non-politician maverick businessman. Instead a political Frankenstein was created resurrecting long dormant prejudices from the fringes, now espoused as a political ideology. Whoever wins this current and future US elections will have to contend with this aberration as a permanent fixture. America is condemned to pay for this failed experiment.

(To be continued next week)

 

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