Unusual Politics in America Will Continue
By Bunmi Makinwa
Twenty presidents have been elected into office in the United States of America (USA) during the twentieth century and to date, and only six of them served for one term of the constitutionally provided two terms. President Donald Trump is one of them. He will leave office evidently as a furious, bitter and unhappy president.
On August 9. 1974, disgraced President Richard Nixon flew out of the White House in an official helicopter and returned to his home in California, the first and only US president to have resigned from office. Republican Party’s President Nixon lived most of the rest of his life struggling to redeem some dignity within American politics until he died on April 22, 1994.
Nixon was a central figure in the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at Washington D.C. Watergate Office Building. The offences included spying and bugging enemies and opponents during the presidential campaign between Nixon and his Democratic nominee rival Mr. George McGovern. Nixon covered up the scandalous incident, more well-known simply as Watergate. His resignation was to escape a certain impeachment as his own party’s House of Representatives and Senators had turned against him.
President Trump will leave office on January 20, 2021 under a cloud of allegations of misconduct at personal and official levels. He is being investigated on his business, political campaign financing and personal activities before he became president. His management of family and personal matters as president will also come under more scrutiny. His critics would like him to be tried and perhaps punished.
Unlike Nixon, Trump is not repentant and apologetic about his actions. Trump has many leaders of the Republican Party, including a good number from the House of Representatives and Senate, in his camp. He also has millions of supporters who are solidly behind him.
Judging by his past and current attitudes, Trump will not fade into the shadows. Nor will he step away from the unusual politics that he has championed in a new USA.
Preceding his election in 2016, President Trump said that he could shoot a person dead on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York, and it would not affect the adulation that his admirers and supporters had for him. Not many people took seriously such an obviously ludicrous statement especially by a presidential candidate.
But he was right. During the campaigns, despite several potentially self-destructive statements by Trump, and in spite of unusually damaging issues that could diminish his support, Trump became even more attractive as leader of his conservative base. Trump was a magnet for Americans who were against political norms, racist, angry, anti-immigrant, far-right, discontented, religious extremists that would not look beyond his rhetoric to examine his business and personal life which were at odds with what he professed.
His defiant refusal to disclose his tax returns which could have dealt the hardest knock on his election was shrugged away by his adherents. He became the face of a new Republican Party that did all his biddings. Very few party leaders spoke against his populist, in-your-face, caustic, relentless appeal to some sordid sides that were latent within his base. He was elected president, much to his own surprise. Although he lost the popular vote to his opponent, Ms. Hillary Clinton, he won the electoral vote handily.
For four years in office, Trump fought the mass media especially the so-called liberal media which he constantly labelled fake news. He disagreed with the long-held USA policies on engagement with traditional allies such as the European Union.
He refused to continue the financial commitments of the USA with NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that started as the Western military hegemony against then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Trump cared little about Western interests or unity as he faced-down China and Iraq, and diverged on policies with Canada, France, Germany and Japan. He cultivated a personal, chummy relationship with leaders like Russia’s President Putin and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, who Americans love to hate.
Most probably, Trump’s good record of economic performance, until Covid-19 appeared, gave him a comfortable level of confidence to win re-election in 2020. Blinded by the sole aim of being returned for a second term, he minimized the seriousness of the new Corona virus. He underestimated the terrible impact of the disease on Americans, directly and indirectly leading to the deaths of more than 350,000 people and still counting.
President Trump does not avoid a fight, he relishes it. He never surrenders but maintains his position no matter the facts or evidence. He is a champion of relentless verbal war and ceaseless Tweets. They have all served him well until they did not – he lost the election for a second term.
Trump out of office will not change his ways. Trump’s niece, Mary L. Trump, in her book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man”, characterized President Trump as a driven egoist compelled by upbringing and lifestyle that makes everyone and everything expendable to fulfil his delusional feeling of self-importance. “The atmosphere of division my grandfather (Donald Trump’s father) created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everybody else,” she wrote.
The portrayal of Donald Trump is similar in many other books, such as: A Very Stable Genius: Donald J Trump’s Testing of America by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig; Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff; How Trump Thinks: His Tweets and the Birth of a New Political Language by Peter Oborne and Tom Roberts; RAGE by Bob Woodward; The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton; Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House by Omarosa Manigault.
Trump wanted by all means to be elected president for a second term. He needs the cover, immunity and authority that the office conveys to suppress his opponents, get protection from his pursuers and build his financial strength. He has lost the possibilities. He refuses though to accept it – mentally, emotionally and truly.
He would not accept to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden. He would not organize a smooth transition of power. He called for protests, urged the House and Senate to change the election results, went through numerous court cases, and asked directly the Georgia State’s Secretary of State to get him votes in any way to upturn the results. All the efforts have failed.
Trump has damaged the democratic process in the USA. He will leave office as a desperate, disappointed person.
He is said to have accumulated over 200 million US dollars recently in post-election fund-raising and will continue to look for more money. He will count on over 70 million votes that were cast for him in the 2020 election and on members of the House of Representatives and Senate who support his bellicose stance.
The impressive resources at his disposal will serve him well as he doggedly fights for personal survival and seeks political relevance. He will deploy his means to disrupt the in-coming Biden-Harris administration. He will continue the unusual politics that he has introduced and championed at least for the immediate future. Politics in the USA will not be the same as it was before the sad entry of Trump.