By Rotimi Fasan
The antics of outgoing American President, Donald John Trump, to overturn the outcome of the November 3 presidential election in America clearly illustrates the Yoruba saying that when a household is at peace it is only because the bastard of that home has not yet come of age: Ti ilekan ba tooro, omo ale ibe ni o ti dagba. Donald Trump epitomises the outcast of American presidency if not of the country’s entire political history.
He is and has always been a con artist his entire life, projecting an image of a deal-making, consummate billionaire businessman who is totally at variance with the man that he truly is. For so long he has gone undetected under the radar or has been given but cursory scrutiny for having operated most of his life as a private citizen.
Which gave him more than enough time to hone his skill as a dishonest human being who could make a lifetime career from putting things behind others and still cover his track.
By the time America and the rest of the world were forced to pay attention, Trump’s duplicitous ways had been fully formed. There is hardly any reason to see him as anything other than insincere. He laid the foundation of his presidency and his political career on fraud and there is no doubt that his presidency if not his political career is ending also on that note.
Democrat today, Republican tomorrow, he started out his life as a politician by demonising the first Black President in America, Barack Obama. Trump claimed, falsely, that Obama was not born in America, thereby inaugurating the so-called ‘birther’ movement that, among other things, cast Obama as a closet Muslim whose ambition was to open America up to be overrun by foreigners. All of this in spite of proofs that Obama had been born on American soil. This was the time that clear-sighted, non-bigoted Americans ought to have taken close watch and paid attention to Donald Trump.
But many turned a blind eye to it and both humoured and enabled Trump in his racist agenda to put a roadblock on the path of Americans of ‘colour’ aspiring to rule this quintessential land of immigrants. Throughout Obama’s eight years, two-term presidency, the lies that Trump had sown around him would dog him and emboldened White tribal warriors following him to seek to delegitimate the government of a gifted and highly intelligent politician like Obama.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Trump became the first beneficiary of the political backlash that trailed the election of the first Black man to be president and his rallying clan call was MAGA or Make America Great Again! In his and the warped thinking of his tribal followers, the election of Obama represented a stain on American politics, bringing America down the ladder of greatness. The only way to change things was to whip up tribal sentiments among rural Whites and to scapegoat Americans of other colours.
He promised to end corruption by fighting the American establishment, having portrayed himself as an outsider to the regime of corruption in the American capital. But Americans ought to have seen that rather than draining the swamp Trump was in fact the swamp.
He got into office with the sole mission to roll back everything that Obama represented and did in office. He divided America along racial lines and blocked with the poisoned stain of his politics all the gains that could have accrued from that country’s apparent rise above its blighted history of slavery and the systemic injustice of the unequal treatment of people who just happened not to be white.
After four years of criminal politicking Trump was to the relief of many in America and around the world defeated by Democratic challenger and former Vice President, Joe Biden and, horror of horrors, a woman, Kamala Harris, of African and South Asian parentage. Winning both the popular and electoral votes by a relatively wider margin than gave Trump the White House in 2016, Biden has triumphed in part because of Trump’s irresponsible handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Otherwise, Americans might now be telling a different story.
Trump had refused to concede the election to Biden. With about 80 million popular votes and 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 73 million popular votes and 232 electoral college votes, Biden who Trump in his tantrum-throwing, infantile bluster likes to call Sleepy Joe, succeeded in his quest to end Trump’s tenancy of the White House.
This is too much for Trump to bear and he has since been seeking both legitimate and mostly shamelessly illegitimate and even criminal means to overturn the results of the votes. So far, no less than 30 of the legal challenges sponsored by Trump and or his surrogates have been tossed out of the courts. But he continues to allege without proof widespread fraud in the election.
The delusional Trump cannot just wrap it round his head that he has been rejected by America and has lost the White House. He is trashing around like a scorched snake in the throes of a dying presidency. Worse yet, he has blocked any plan for a smooth transition and has been locking out the Biden team from getting briefings required to make them function without hiccups once they take over at noon on January 20, 2021.
Not only has Trump and his shameful presidency exposed and widened the fault lines of American politics, Trump has exposed the racist assumption of White or Western exceptionalism.
If an entrenched democracy like America’s could be stressed to the extent that it has after the defeat of Trump, if Trump could employ in plain sight many of the underhand tactics that he has employed before and since the loss of the American presidency and yet enjoy enthusiastic support from his base and beyond, then what right has America to criticise the so-called banana republics of the world? With its own potential Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin and many of the world’s sit-tight rulers, can America still lay claim to being the most developed democracy? What becomes of its police man role in the world?
What would the world have said had Barack Obama or any Black person behaved like Trump- with the countless lies, barefaced misogyny, racism, corruption and dictatorial habits? But Trump continues to find supporters, no less in Nigeria where some rolled out the drums to canvass his victory in the election he has now lost.
His deluded supporters in Nigeria are spinning the simple truth of his loss in a web of lies fuelled by conspiracy theories, while entertaining hopes of their man reclaiming the presidency through some legal magic. Madness has no other name.