Donald J. Trump and the decline of the United States
I have been a close observer of American politics since my secondary school days when General Dwight David Eisenhower (1953-1961) was president succeeding the immediate post Second World War President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) who himself towards the end of the war took over from Franklin Delano Roosevelt ( 1933-1945), the longest serving president of the USA. I was in the University of Ibadan when President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961-1963) was assassinated on November 22 1963. The assassination of President Kennedy nearly destroyed the image and reputation of the United States in the world. For us in Nigeria it was a tragedy. Kennedy had so much interest in Africa and the developing world that he invited Nigeria’s prime minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa not only to pay a state visit, but also to address the joint sitting of the USA Congress, perhaps the only African that has ever been granted that honour up till today. I still remember how our President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe made a broadcast to the nation ordering our national flag to be flown at half-mast for three days in memory of a great man and a global citizen. Many of us in the University of Ibadan wept openly for a man who was regarded as an icon by young people. The way he spoke, the words that came out of his mouth, his mid-Atlantic accent and diction, his lanky stature, his haircut and his beautiful wife and young children were objects of admiration by all of us. I personally made a painful visit to the spot where he was shot when I visited Dallas sometimes ago. When the tears had dried up and the then Vice President Lyndon Blaines Johnson (1963-1969) took over the American presidency, most of my contemporaries lost interest in the USA. Ironically President Johnson did many revolutionary things like getting the Civil Act of 1965 through the Congress and passing a few other socially relevant acts of what he dubbed the beginning of a “great society” into law thus bringing millions of black Americans into the mainstream of American political life through having the right to vote and be voted for. These were rights that were latent and had been inactive because of deliberate acts by the white deep state to deny the right to black people by violence and subterfuge. The bitterness the murder of Kennedy introduced into American politics and the whole conspiracy surrounding the assassination in Dallas Texas, the home state of Vice President Lyndon Johnson, made it difficult for many to view President Johnson’s achievement dispassionately. The war in Vietnam also complicated matters to the extent that many within the Democratic Party of the president rose against him and the younger brother of President John Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged Lyndon Johnson in the Democratic primaries for the party’s nomination which was an unusual scenario that forced a sitting president to refuse to contest for a second term in office. The challenge was to end in tragedy for the Kennedy family when Robert Kennedy was gunned down on June 5, 1968 by a Palestinian refugee Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles while Kennedy was celebrating his victory in the Californian primary. The disarray in the Democratic Party paved the way for the coming into power of a shady and calculating character like Richard Milhous Nixon who ended in disgrace when he resigned in 1974 for his anti-democratic and illegal shenanigans of bugging the office of the rival party in the Watergate office complex in Washington DC and for refusing to release his secret taping of discussions in the White House including his attempt to cover up the burglary of the Democratic Party’s office. Since this low point in the history of the American presidency, there have been people like Jimmy Carter, William Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side and Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, his son George W. Bush from the Republican Party. Some of them distinguished themselves in office and some out of office but all maintained their positions as models and examples for the American people to follow. Some of them were closet racists like Nixon and Reagan and at least presented a facade of upholding the American myth of equality of equality of all races.
Now we have an unusual and incredible president like the current occupant of the White House, President Donald J. Trump. Trump virtually exploited the anger of the white American working class and rural folks who felt left behind by the globalized economy of the world which transferred manufacturing to China and countries in Asia while many manufacturing jobs in America were lost thus creating boarding of factories in the so-called rust belt of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and to some extent Wisconsin. Trump bullied his way into the presidency calling his Republican and Democratic contenders unflattering nicknames and being totally uncivil and rude while his opponents who did not want to get into the gutter with him not knowing what to do bore his insults with equanimity. In the bitterly contested election of 2016 against Hillary Clinton, Trump got more electoral college votes than Clinton who beat him by close to three million plurality votes. Trump was able to paint Hillary as a corrupt person who exploited her position for financial gain in what he called “pay for play”. He was also able to tar Clinton with the brush of the so-called liberals who want to flood the country with immigrants from Mexico and other countries from Latin America and Africa. In other words, he told white Americans that they were being marginalized and were doomed to become a minority in their country if they did not vote for him. This racist language worked and fired up about 40percent of Americans who no matter what Trump did were ready to support him. Trump himself boasted that if he shot a person in the heart of New York City his supporters will continue to support him. When he got elected people thought the awesome weight of the office will sober him up and he will be the president of all Americans and the so called leader of the “free world”. In office President Trump has not only contributed to the bitter division of his country and mostly along racial lines with White supremacists on his side and those white and black opposed to them that call themselves anti-fascists or “ANTIFA” for short, President Trump sees both as evil in his warped morality. Not only is he dividing the USA, he is also angering the western allies of the USA and undermining the western institutions that had secured world peace since 1945. Nothing is sacrosanct, not NATO, IMF, World Bank, the UN and its specialized agencies. The president says he is not interested in multi-lateral institutions and that he would rather deal on bi-lateral basis with countries that America would want to relate to. His credo is “Make America Great Again “which is a policy in which America’s interest is paramount. But America is not an island sufficient unto itself because if the USA is in good shape and the rest of the world goes to the dogs, the USA would not benefit from such a self-defeating selfish policy.
It is strange that in his politics, he seems to love autocrats like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines and nationalists and populists in Britain, Hungary, Poland and recently Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil while he regularly insulted Justin Trudeau of Canada, Immanuel Macron of France, Theresa May, former prime minister of Great Britain and Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. His regular tantrums and unorthodox way of doing things and his going against all norms of diplomatic behaviour have now come to be accepted as the new American normal.
Recently on the eve of the G7 meeting in Biarritz France and during and after the post conference press conference, the president said so many things that made people feel he is not fit for the post he is holding. Before leaving for the G7 he peremptorily cancelled a state visit to Denmark because the prime minister of the country, Mette Frederiksen said it was absurd that Trump would offer to buy an island constituting 98 percent of her country. In return Trump called her a “nasty woman”. At another time he accused Jews in a rather patronizing racist view, that American Jews who vote Democratic in USA elections are either ignorant or disloyal. This is rather a strange thing to say in a country where support for Israel is bi- partisan. He then added the same week that he was the “chosen one “to solve American problems especially his tariff war with China which seems to be about to plunge the whole world into recession. Then he says someone from the highest level of the Chinese government phoned the USA to plead for negotiations on the tariffs war only for the phone call to be denied. While at the G7, he left America’s chair vacant while leaders from the rest of the world deliberated on global climate change obviously because he does not believe in the evidence of climate change. This was explained away by his staff who said he was having meetings with India and Egypt which was a lie because the presidents of those two countries attended the meeting on the invitation of the G7.
Then it was alleged that he considered nuking the eye of any hurricane approaching the USA. It was allegedly explained to him that he will turn a hurricane into radioactive holocaust if he nuked them! Then he claimed his wife Melania had met Kim Jon Un; this was quickly explained away by saying he meant to say he had spoken so much about the North Korean dictator that his wife seem to know him. He also offered his money-losing golf club and resorts in Miami Florida as venue for the G7 meeting next year which will go against the Emolument clause in the American constitution preventing a president from benefiting financially by holding the post of president. He has so much embarrassed many people in the USA that two people within the Republican Party including Joe Walsh one of the right wing radio journalists that facilitated his election in 2016 to decide to challenge him in the Republican primaries. It is of course unlikely yet that the Republican Party will abandon him next year. The onus is on the Democratic Party to present an alternative to Donald Trump out of the huge company of 21 candidates running for president. Some of them are simply too extreme in their policies that Americans will not pay attention to them except for entertainment. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, two of the three leading contenders are just too old in their late seventies that not many Americans will waste their votes on them. Elizabeth Warren, the articulate and sincere senator from Massachusetts is in her 70s also. Kamilla Harris who is 54 is not likely to be successful in election shortly after another African American. The same goes for Senator Cory Booker another African American and Julian Castro a Cuban-American. Pete Buttigieg, a mayor of a small city looks impressive but he is gay and I doubt if America is ready for gay president. Beto O’Rourke from El Passo, Texas ought to gain more traction than he is gaining right now. Perhaps at the nick of time a shining redeemer would seize the leadership of the Democratic Party to save America and the world from the re-election of Donald J Trump. In other words, the election is for the Democratic Party to lose and not Trump to win.
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