Prior to US President Donald Trump’s supporters violently storming the US Legislature on January 6th 2021, America was respected as a world leader in the practice of democracy. Democratic elections are supposed to reflect the will of the people, but ultimately they stand on two pillars; firstly the integrity of the processes, secondly the willingness of the loser to accept the result.
Similar to most Nigerian politicians who lose elections, Trump challenged the first, and defied the second, thereby denting America’s reputation as a bastion of democracy. The world recoiled in shock from Trump’s attempt to unconstitutionally and forcibly overturn election results. Words like ‘coup’ and ‘rigging’ were introduced into US political language as the nation became the butt of many jokes.
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In reference to their record of participating in or encouraging unconstitutional changes of government in developing nations, the trending joke is that; “Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the United States had to organise a coup at home this year!” Perhaps the most sarcastic of all trending jokes is that; “If the US saw what the President of the US is doing in the US, the US would invade the US to liberate the US from the tyranny of the US President!”
The storming of the legislature by Trump supporters wasn’t simply a peaceful demonstration which got out of hand; it was a coordinated attack, orchestrated by an outgoing president who incited passions with his continuous false claims of winning the elections in the belief that if you repeat a lie often enough, everybody will be convinced it’s the truth. Trump will be remembered in history in infamy for treasonably inciting insurrection and calling on his supporters to come to Washington and forcibly change the election result. They responded by congregating, invading the legislative buildings, smashing windows, fighting and killing police officers, vandalising lawmakers’ offices and threatening their lives.
Trump “patriots” literally defecated on US democracy as they occupied offices and smeared excreta around the US Capitol Hill building complex. Trump proved the United States is disunited! Many non-Americans find it difficult to comprehend how a man with his obvious character flaws was elected president in the first place. Understanding his success requires knowledge of America’s history of white supremacy, racism, and exploitation.
Originally occupied by so called “Native Americans”, the land was invaded by white colonialists who massacred them in genocidal wars, forcefully seized their lands, brought in slaves from Africa to work for them virtually free of charge and build a nation without really paying for land or labour. Following their defeat in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement white-supremacists went underground. As a backlash to Obama being the first black president, Trump, a bona fide racist, was elected. He re-emboldened racists to appear in public bearing firearms and became their hero. It’s no surprise that 60 of his 62 election lawsuits were targeted at annulling African-American votes! Trump shunned rational argument preferring to appeal to the basest prejudices of his supporters.
Clinical psychologists serially warned that he was narcissistic and unfit for high office and as he openly exhibited his egoism and ignorance, world leaders saw through his charade, unintelligence and lies and openly mocked America. Meanwhile, his supporters believed his lies. Regrettably, in spite of his well documented character defects, many Christians support Trump even though he doesn’t go to Church and cannot quote a single phrase in the Bible! He sacrilegiously referred to himself as “the chosen one”. Pentecostal leaders in both the US and Nigeria will have to redefine themselves in the wake of their decision to side with him, cast the election as “good versus evil” and, quite ridiculously, claim that not voting for Trump was a “mortal sin”.
Christianity is supposed to be about love and compassion, not hateful racist bile. Trump understood well the cult of personality and tapped into poorly educated white people’s “respect” for any person espousing a combustible mix of open racism and religious bigotry. By championing prejudice, he earned 70 million votes, making it evident that there is a legion of religious bigots and undemocratic white-supremacists in America.
Despite separating Mexican children from their parents and locking them up in cages, banning Moslems, castigating Black Lives Matter supporters, while making the poor poorer and the rich richer, 45 percent of Republicans approved of his failed “coup attempt”, and 70 million Americans as well as the majority of Whites (57 percent) supported his re-election. Regardless of his shameful loss in both the Electoral College and the popular vote, Trump is unlikely to walk quietly into the sunset. After declining to attend President-Elect Biden’s inauguration, he is expected to continue throwing tantrums, cursing everyone, kicking against the system, manufacturing every conspiracy theory imaginable, causing trouble and destroying institutions.
The sad truth of Trump’s reprehensible behaviour, and a sobering thought for African countries trying to protect their “nascent democracy”, is that while the defences of the physical structures of governance can be strengthened, doors reinforced, fences put up, surveillance increased etc, democracy itself cannot be guarded against leaders who walk the corridors of power and who, despite taking an oath to uphold the constitution, refuse to do so.
The Donald Trump problem will go away but America’s problem remains. They must ensure that never again will a person with stunted intellect, disrespect for the constitution, absurd ego, a lack of decorum, and deficiency of self-control be allowed to occupy the White House. Perhaps now Americans have learnt that you cannot put a crown on a clown and expect him to behave like a King! The skills required to build skyscrapers are different from those required to lead a free people in a democracy.
Good business leadership is driven by extreme self-centeredness which Trump has in abundance. Good political leadership requires extreme selflessness, the kind that the likes of Nelson Mandela had in abundance but Trump never had. The world is a safer and better place without him in the White House. As for President-Elect Joe Biden, Trump left the USA in ruins as he did most of his failed business ventures. It’s left to others to clean up the mess. Their lost international standing will be easily regained through sensible leadership, but their retrogression in social harmony will be less easy to redress.
It will be difficult if not impossible to convince the majority of Americans who are peace-loving to “re-unite” with race baiting insurrectionist White Supremacists, who are committed to their cause of making America white again. All said and done, it’s no surprise that Trump’s presidency failed. Despite being enamoured by his opinion of his intelligence, he has serially failed in so many of his undertakings in life perhaps he now understands that you learn nothing if you think you’re right all the time! To cover up his latest failure, he tried his best to rubbish American democracy but fortunately for the world, democracy prevailed and he lost. In the process, he lost the White House, lost the Senate, lost the House of Representatives, lost the popular vote, lost the Electoral College, lost 60 law suits and lost five lives in his attempted coup.