Let us pretend that tomorrow’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris doesn’t really matter to us. We are not Americans, right? And even though Ms. Harris claims to be African-American, there are those who ask her to validate that claim. They are not wrong. Barack Obama was born and raised in America, but Donald Trump’s birther movement tried to disprove that fact. It used to be that when you knew the fact but chose to hold onto and peddle fallacy, you were called a liar, Trumpists put a spin on lies too, they called it alternate facts.
Thank God the FBI are not like Nigeria’s DSS, they won’t be sending a hit squad after me just because I parrot what the Washington Post has chronicled about Trump’s alternate facts. By July 2020, Trump had peddled 20,000 lies as a sitting president. That was so much lies that it wouldn’t have been wrong to rename his White House presidency as the Lie House. One Alhaji Lie has nothing on Trump. He vows never to have told a lie in his life. We know better even if we dare not say so.
America used to be a beacon of democracy. Around the world, critics of tin-pot dictators look towards Washington DC saying – that’s how it should be done. In 2016, Donald Trump became president without winning majority of the popular votes, the first time in a decade. Three of the other presidents who share Trump’s alternate luck lost their re-election bids. In 2016, three million Americans voted to keep a neurotic Trump out of the White House. Last year, over 75 million voted to keep him in. They failed!
America’s founding fathers created a difficult constitution. They envisaged a time when ‘we the people’ might not know what was best for themselves, so they put the power of who eventually gets the presidency in the hands of an amorphous group fashionably called the Electoral College. In Orwellian parlance, all Americans are equal but some are more equal than the others.
Little wonder when Donald Trump encountered the losing streak a few weeks ago, he did not find it disturbing. He was hoping on the magic of 2016 especially with his party in control of the Senate. He also slept and dreamt that Vice President Mike Pence held the joker that could torpedo any Electoral College coup.
Pence became the only member of Trump’s ‘A’ Team ‘appointees’ to survive the large turnover in his cabinet, a feat unparalleled by any other modern leader.
According to data compiled by the Brookings Institute, Trump had three chiefs of staff for his four-year term. That was low compared to having five deputy chiefs of staff, six directors of communication, four press secretaries, four national security advisers and seven deputy NSAs. Even for Africa, a continent he never visited there were three advisers in four years. The Bookings Institute ranks the turnover in Trump’s cabinet to be about 94%, a sad record.
How did a man like Trump fall so badly in spite of winning the heart of 75 million simpletons? Did America suddenly unravel a braggart or come to terms with his sordid past? No. Trump’s fall reminds of the story of the young mosquito that returned from its maiden flight believing that he was so popular among humans they clapped for him everywhere he went. His parents warned him, those were not claps but missed attempts to murder him. Racists egged on the dysfunctional opportunist as he promoted and profiled people of colour and creed until he was swathed out of a throne he desecrated.
Things reached a crescendo when he messed with a black jailbird hip-hop artist by the name of George Floyd. On May 25, 2020, Floyd showed up at a Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis store for a casual transaction that he paid for with a $20 bill. The store clerk believed the money was fake and called the cops. Derek Chauvin, a racist in uniform arrived, wrestled Floyd to the floor, handcuffed him and placed his knee on his neck until he snuffed life out of him. The ensuing outrage swept the entire globe, toppling every effigy erected in honour of slavery. A smart leader would rally his people and placate his nation at times, but Trump took the side of systemic racism.
That episode stirred up the rage against racism, convinced every voter of colour and creed to counter this demagoguery at the polling booth. Soon to be Vice President, Kamala Harris a veteran of electoral battles was reported to have been in the frontline, marshaling troops to counter potential confrontation with armed right-wing Trumpists. Rather than buying guns, they encouraged mass voter registration and massive mail-in balloting. Over a decade earlier, Joe Biden, had worked with a relatively unknown Obama to win the dream mandate and keep their two -term mandate.
Not only has the Biden/Harris ticket win the popular votes, it marshaled enough electoral votes to give Trump an incredible shellacking causing almost all America to turn blue. Tomorrow as Biden and Harris take their oath of office, they would be controlling both houses of Congress not seen since the era of Franklin D Roosevelt.
If Obama won on the Audacity of Hope, Biden won a reward for loyalty and consistency. As a young congressman, he took the side of the oppressed calling for an end to apartheid in South Africa. He was loyal to the first African-American president whom he served for eight years without rancour or acrimony. Eat your heart out, Mike Pence.
This transition and the presidency would not be a walk in the park. It stares straight into one of the most difficult times of any American presidency. COVID-19 has killed nearly half a million Americans and exacerbated the inequality between the wealthy and the needy while attempting to bring American medical infrastructure to its knees.
The challenges are huge. Under Trump, American goodwill earned over the decades was squandered. Age-long alliances were shattered with Trump’s infantile rants, unending taunts and outright bullying. The biggest of the tasks ahead would be how to heal America from within. Nerves are frayed, and anybody taking for granted the discontent of 75 million Trumptards would be undermining the power of negativity on the best of intentions. As a global player, America needs the healing inside to confront the enemy outside. Thus far, Biden has put his hand on the plough making impressive initial appointments.
The government would have to tackle COVID-19 headlong while rebuilding bridges of understanding. This ticket would not have the luxury of solidifying the home front first before repositioning itself on the global scene. Rather, it would need to mend the inside as it paper over the cracks outside. Thankfully, its mortal enemy, the GOP would be too busy picking up the pieces from the damage of a bullish outsider. Trump is gone, and it was pure luck he did not take America with him. As Tai Solarin would have put it – to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, America’s 46th leaders – may your road be rough!