A New Dawn, Sans Don
Debates would go on and on, as to whether the hard-line supporters of former President Donald Trump, who attacked the Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, should be considered as a Third Party in the American Society, as well as on whether the incident hurt Democracy in the US. Rather, it is important to discuss whether the Trump Administration was a manifestation of the weakness of American Democracy or a manifestation of the Strength of Democracy itself…
Although Joe Biden has taken charge as the 46th President of the US, the legacy of Donald Trump will continue to impact the American Society for a long time. Perhaps, majority of the 47% of the American people, who had voted to elect Trump in the 2020 Presidential Polls, should condemn the attack on the Capitol Hill ahead of President Biden’s swearing-in ceremony. It is also a fact that they cast their votes even after being aware of the history of Fire and Fury.
Former President Trump caused quite a stir around the world in past four years. After becoming the US President in 2017, he imposed a ban on immigration, built a wall on the US-Mexico border, withdrew the US from the Paris (Climate) Accord, announced Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and curtailed the grant of the UN! However, Trump was not the creator of the World of Fake News and Post-Truth. Rather, the World of Post-Truth only helped him influence the 21st Century Global Geopolitics.
In her publication ‘Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man’ (2020), Psychologist Mary Lea Trump narrated how the Trump family, especially Donald’s father Fred Trump (Sr), had created the world’s Scariest Man! The niece of Donald Trump wrote: “Donald requires division. It is the only way he knows how to survive – my grandfather ensured that decades ago when he turned his children against each other.” Still, it is important to keep in mind that the American Democracy created a person of the stature of Donald Trump.
One should not consider Trump as the Frankenstein of Democracy. On the contrary, it is the Democracy that denied him the opportunity to get re-elected. The American people and the celebrities had criticised him on a regular basis. From reducing the number of H-1B visas to Immigration Policy, the Judiciary tried to control him. Trump, even, made a serious attempt to boost the National Economy during the Pandemic in order to win a second term! Perhaps, his advisers tried to explain to him the limitations of the President’s Power in the Constitution. He was also interested in delaying the Presidential Polls. However, the Constitution did not allow him to do so!
Donald Trump might have had the potential to become Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But, the Strength of Democracy in the US dampened his aspirations. When Trump congratulated Putin on his re-election as Russian President in 2018 even after staying in power for 18 long years, Republican leader John Sidney McCain publicly expressed annoyance. When China approved the removal of the two-term limit on the Presidency in 2018, effectively allowing Xi Jinping to remain in Power for life; Trump wanted the US to follow the suit. It seems that he failed to realise that he was born in the Wrong country at the Wrong time!
It is a matter of etiquette, as well as courtesy, for the outgoing President to be present during the Transfer of Power or the inauguration of the President-elect. The gesture sends a message to the People that the Nation is above Personal Victory and Defeat. However, Trump did not attend his successor Biden’s Swearing-in ceremony, thus, hitting the base of American Democracy. The last time when a Defeated outgoing President did not attend the swearing in of the new President happened 152 years ago. The year was 1869 and the President was Andrew Johnson, who had detested incoming President Ulysses S Grant. The feeling was mutual. Grant had refused to ride in the same carriage with Johnson to the Capitol Hill.
In this context, the history of a fairy tale oath-taking ceremony can be recalled. Noted Poet Robert Frost had attended John F Kennedy‘s inauguration in 1961. Frost, then 86 years old, recited his poem ‘The Gift Outright‘, as Kennedy requested him to read the poem, considered an act of gratitude towards the poet for his help during the campaign. JFK had one more request, to change the final line about our great nation, “Such as she was, such as she would become“, to the more optimistic “Such as she will become“. Although not typically inclined to tweak his careful wording, the poet grudgingly agreed.
Six decades after that, Democracy still ignores Trumpism in order to follow the Path of Hope, Globally!
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