By Dele Sobowale
Thomas Paine, 1737-1809, said it first. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821, repeated it. “From the sublime to the ridiculous there is only one step.”
The President of the United States is the most powerful person on earth. To him everybody pays attention. He occupies the sublime summit of power. Even after his tenure of office, the esteem of having been to the mountain top clings to him – irrespective of whether he serves one term or two. Most are favoured with eight years in the highest office on earth. But, a few last only four or a few more years. Democratic Presidents Kennedy, 1960-63, Lyndon Johnson, 1963-68, Republican Richard Nixon, 1969-74, Democratic Jimmy Carter, 1976-1980, and Republican George Bush, Snr, 1989-1993, were among a few US Presidents who, in the last half of the last century, left office without serving eight full years.
With the exception of John Kennedy, who was assassinated on November 22, 1963, all the others walked into the American White House and moved out without creating a scene. Nixon left to avoid impeachment, Carter and Bush were voted out. None of them behaved as if the White House was a personal gift bestowed on him by voters on Election Day to be held for eight years. Being decent human beings, they accepted that power belongs to the people and can be given and withdrawn under normal circumstances.
The most normal of all circumstances is always the next election – when the President must subject his four years of stewardship to the assessment of the voters. Americans normally expect every serving President to appraise his administration as a success. That is allowed – and it happens all the time. But, the voters will be the final arbiters of how well he has performed.
Something strange happened in 2016. Although the majority of the voters turned down the Republican presidential candidate – preferring the Democratic candidate – the American unique system of Electoral College declared Republican Donald Trump the winner. The Democratic Party candidate promptly conceded victory by congratulating her opponent. Then out-going Democratic President, Obama, added his own congratulatory message.
Soon, tweets, seldom deployed by Presidents and Prime Ministers, and never on important policy matters, started appearing – all personally crafted, sometimes with wrong spelling and atrocious grammar, by President Trump. “It must be a joke and will stop once serious official work begins”. That was the consensus of opinions. Even those who worked hard and voted for him expected the abnormal change to stop soon. Everybody was wrong – because everybody assumed that we were dealing with a normal human being temporarily having a lot of fun. Few realised that the US had just elected an unusual President; who will wield the mightiest earthly power for four years and deploy it like never before.
TRUMP: MASTER OF GREAT LIES
“The great masses of the people….will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one” – Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945.
Like Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump deployed lies as frequently as the need arises. Little was known about him in 2016. Few expected him to emerge the Republican Party’s flag-bearer. Consequently, very little attention was paid to all the layers of falsehood which covered the real Trump until he was in the White House. By then, covered with the immunity of office and aided by a Republican Party not ready to relinquish the office as they did with Nixon in 1974, he knew he was covered till 2020. He would take his chances thereafter. But, first, he would build another layer of protection by dividing the country into two irreconcilable groups – those for or against Trump. For him, elections will not be decided on the basis of his performance; only on whether or not you like Trump. So, he went out of his way to carve out a solid base of Americans who favoured dividing the nation into two antagonistic groups – based on fear, hatred, distrust and racism. It was strategic, ingenuous and it almost worked. In the end, Trump was defeated, not by Biden, but by divine intervention which posed three major problems for which he was ill-prepared and which overwhelmed his base. Without the three problems, he would have won with the over 72 million votes he received – the highest in history for a loser.
Corona virus, unemployment and Black Lives Matter movement were the three issues which provided Biden his winning margin by sending independent voters, black Americans and the jobless to the polling stations in record numbers. Trump was always self-centred. Deep down, he does not give a damn about anybody – including his base. Otherwise, how does one explain a leader who exposed millions of his supporters to death all because he was scared of losing them by admitting that COVID-19 is real? Like all possessed people, he piled lie upon lie until Election Day – by then it was too late to reverse himself.
“COVID, COVID, COVID, but, I can assure you that from November 4 you won’t hear anything about COVID again.”
That was one of his favourite statements on the campaign trail. It was a great lie released to get the fanatical morons constituting his base to close their already shut minds more strongly against the rising tide of COVID which was gathering strength to overwhelm America. President Trump knew the truth. Being an incurable liar, he knew that lying would profit him more than the truth. Now, all Americans, and even the global community, will suffer immensely from that false statement alone.
“I am beginning to wonder how many fools it takes to make the term, ‘My Fellow Citizens’” – Honore de Balzac, 1799-1850.
The most obvious questions are: Can any person be considered sane who utters all these statements which can be easily proved to be false? Are his 70 million-plus supporters different from the Nazi mob which swallowed all that Hitler vomited without question?
I received American government scholarship in 1964 to obtain university education in the country; and altogether spent ten of my best years there. America was great then; it is great now and will remain great to the end of my life. I am now almost 77. Until this election, nobody could have convinced me that the US is home to 70 million people whose indiscretion is cut from the same piece of cloth as Hitler, Stalin and some of the mass murderers I read about as an undergraduate. Now, it is easy to see how such political monsters arise and no nation is immune.
Certainly, years from now, after Trump would have been diminished, some of his Republican supporters will be issuing apologies like Albert Speer, 1905-1981, Nazi Minister of Armaments and War Production. They will write books disclaiming responsibility for their roles in the attempt to subvert democracy. Trump certainly will enter history as a loser of the 2020 election. He and his collaborators – including the Attorney General of Texas State and others – will also enter history for the political scoundrels they are at this point in US history.
Granted, the late great American circus master P.T. Barnum, 1810-1891, was credited with saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute”, but I thought that stopped with the Baby boomers born after World War II who eagerly embraced education and science. Yet, in the second decade of the new millennium over 70 million Americans, suckers really, allowed themselves to be deceived by a demagogue on COVID-19 which is basically a scientific/health issue.
WILL TRUMP ATTEND BIDEN’S INAUGURATION?
“Will you attend Biden’s inauguration?”-Fox TV interviewer.
To that Trump gave what to me was the expected reply. “Don’t ask me about that.” It is doubtful if any American journalist would write what I am about to publish. But, I am convinced that Trump will not attend the inauguration. The reason is simple. His presence will amount to admitting the defeat which he would never allow – even if he lives a thousand years.
In fact, it might be in the best interest of America if Trump does not attend. If he inexplicably does attend, it will be to create a scene to draw attention from the main event. But, I am almost certain Trump will not be there on January 20, 2021.
HOW WILL TRUMP LEAVE THE WHITEHOUSE?
“Men make history; but not just as they please.” (Karl Marx, 1818-1883).
Unknown to Trump’s supporters, they have inadvertently driven the man into a corner. He cannot leave the White House the way other Presidents voted out of office did. Still clinging to his self-delusion that he won and was robbed of victory there are only two options, both unprecedented in American history, left for him to leave the White House and an office which had left him.
First, Trump could refuse to vacate the premises and wait to be physically evicted and provoke widespread civil disturbance to feed his over-bloated ego – now deflated.