THREATS to jail one’s political opponents, race-to-the-bottom accusations and counter-accusations of sexual assaults and crooked politics, despicable political stunts and unabashed exhortations to foreign adversaries to hack the election campaign of one’s opponents – all political machinations associated with the electoral politics of banana republics.
But wait, this is all now happening in America – the global bastion of democracy – whose libertarian values and progressive vision not too long ago, was the kind of stuff political dreams and freedoms are made of. As the presidential election enters into insane and irrational overdrive, the American dream which used to excite our hopes and sustain our confidence for a better world has now turned into an unfathomable nightmare.
While historians like to describe Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1962 as racist and bigoted, Donald Trump’s tower of babble and political art of creative destruction can best be labelled: decadent and immoral, even criminal. But how did America, with its world- acclaimed academics, intellectuals, political thinkers and trail-blazing institutions allow the incorrigible Donald Trump to plunge its democratic and political rationality into a deep intellectual recession?
The answer, indubitably, lies in the destructive and obstructionist politics of the Republican Party, aided by a hapless mainstream media. The unsavoury state of affairs in the so-called Grand Old Party (GOP), has given rise to Donald Trump and his repugnant pull-up-the-drawbridge truculence – a Frankenstein’s monster that they now can’t get rid of. But one thing is certain: Trump’s ghost will haunt the Republican Party for years to come, if not decades.
At its core, politics is an effort to make human connections, but Trump seems incapable of that. Enthralled by cultural illusions and political superstitions, Mr. Trump has demonstrated, with pathological fervour, his unsuitability for the presidency on the basis of his mercurial temperament, intolerance and cultishness (reminiscent of Idi Amin’s capriciousness), the false equivalences and his gut-wrenching recalcitrance and disrespect for just about any and every one including his own daughter Ivanka.
To be sure, the 2016 presidential race has been an embarrassment of substance, not just personality. The candidacy of Donald Trump has exposed the hollowness of the hitherto respected intellectuals who have continued relentlessly to present the most preposterous arguments to support and justify the fallacies and rhetorical buffoonery of the iconoclastic and out-of-control ignoramus.
When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, I thought for a moment that America had decided (albeit grudgingly) to finally face up to its racial demons and move to embrace the diversity and multiculturalism that has made it into an exceptional nation, unlike any other on the planet. Now I realize this was only wishful thinking on my part – specious reasoning at worst. The ominous entry of Donald Trump into the 2016 presidential race has done irreparable damage not only to race relations in the U.S., but also to the world’s perception of America as the enduring global symbol of hope and the allegorical democratic frontier.
Donald Trump and his Republican enablers represent all what we abhor about America’s racial and political past. His frequent dog whistles (including ‘Make America Great Again’) and tweeter hate have mainstreamed racial animosity in the country, and facilitated the white-nationalist right’s efforts (including the Ku Klux Klan) to overtly supplant the leadership and condemn the legacy of America’s first black president. All of a sudden, the most incorrigible white racists in America now feel free and emboldened to spew racial vitriol wherever and whenever they feel.
How does a man who continuously boasts of being “incredibly smart” spew out the following to a racial minority who is already suspicious of his motives and whom he desperately needs to win the presidency: “You live in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs. What the hell do you have to lose?” Surely, this sounds more like the rhetoric of a plantation overseer than of a caring and unifying leader.
Much in sync with the views of just about every major newspaper in America and around the world, David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine has pointed out: “Trump has repeatedly insulted and attacked the U.S. military and intelligence community, its leadership, and performance – while showing such utter contempt for the electorate that he has made no visible effort to come to understand America’s situation in the world or how foreign policy works. What is more, he has demonstrated his derision for the First Amendment to the Constitution and regularly sought to block, quash, and intimidate the press. If there were a more textbook example of the narcissistic, brutal personality type from which authoritarian thugs are made, it is hard to imagine. Trump is not just an American Berlusconi, he is our Putin- or Mugabe-in-waiting.”
The thought of a Trump presidency and its impact on the world economy seem to be so scary that Foreign Policy magazine for the first time in its history has endorsed a candidate (Hillary Clinton). The magazine justifies its decision on the grounds that “A Trump presidency is among the greatest threats facing America, and the Republican standard-bearer is the worst major-party candidate for the job in U.S. history.”
But for all the gloom and doom (of course most of it, if not all, justified), I strongly believe that on Tuesday November 8th, the American people will redeem themselves and vote for a candidate who is intellectually and politically competent, and who represents the “altruistic” hope and progress America has mostly stood for. As we count down the days to this important election, consider a famous quote by Winston Churchill: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Hopefully in the weeks and months following the election, Mr. Trump’s post-truth revolution would have gone gurgling down into the maelstrom of history.
For comments, write to ClementSoulage@hotmail.de – Clement Wulf-Soulage is a Management Economist, Published Author and Former University Lecturer.