In Australia, where I grew up, there is a saying: “It’s all over…bar the shouting”. Usually, this is said with reference to sporting events, but it can apply to others, including political happenings. So, with contemporary reference, what is over is the USA Presidential Election. The shouting is coming from the loser in that election, the present American President, Donald J. Trump.
The election process was prolonged – mainly a consequence of the American election system, enhanced, on this occasion, by the increase in postal voting due to the impact of Covid-19 on the USA population. However, as the election outcome was given after the poll result in the State of Pennsylvania, the volume of shouting increased. Donald Trump, in a seemingly vain attempt to reverse the election result, began a process of vain enquiry and litigation to “derail the voting system, accuse several American States of permitting, even colluding with, election fraud, and announcing that the system cheated him from winning the election.”
Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Trump claims that he is still the legitimate President of the USA – a claim echoed by a multitude of his diehard followers, and not a few reputable Republican politicians.
Notwithstanding Trump’s vain, rear guard and disreputable litigious action, it appears that Trump, and “Trumpism”, is over. If that truly is the case, then it is to be hoped that, as one British journalist stated, “it is the beginning of the end of the type of empty-airhead-fake promises populism that saw Trump come to power, saw Brexit win, and saw the Tories get back in with such a landslide last December.” Notwithstanding, when you look at the American election result, you realise that, despite “the rambling, incoherent, paranoid, dishonest, childish trash that Trump spouted all of the time”, he got close to half the overall total of the American vote. Scary!
Donald Trump received the second highest number of votes in the history of American Presidential elections (on the latest figures, the 2020 winner, Joe Biden, received the highest ever number of votes – over four million more votes than Trump). So, Donald Trump achieved something that no one would have thought was possible. That tells us a lot, not only about the character of USA Presidential candidates, but also about the state of contemporary American society… and its democracy!
Amongst other contemporary events across the pond, the 2020 Presidential Election has shown that the USA is not what it has generally been seen to be – the “great symbol of truth and democracy, the antidote to tyranny and oppression.” On the contrary, the words, antics, and political manoeuvrings of Donald J. Trump has shown us just how thin is the ice on which the USA stands “above the chilling depths of totalitarianism and fascism”.
The American post 2nd WW geo-political scene is littered with examples of the neurotic and megalomaniacal, the grandiose and the empiric – Truman and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Lyndon Johnson and the ruination of the people and the landscape of Vietnam and Cambodia, Richard Nixon and Watergate, Ronald Reagan and the mirage of his “Star Wars ballistic missile defence system”, the Bush ascendancy and the “American Century” and, finally, Donald Trump and “Make America great again”.
There is a cartoon currently doing the rounds, showing a grown-up Donald Trump in a children’s nursery. He is cowering on the floor yelling “I don’t want to go… I don’t want to go.” The absurdity of his infantile, undignified posturing, often brought, and continues to bring, the USA near to being an object of laughter and derision. The election of a mature person of governance, Joe Biden, as the President of the USA, will be, indeed, already is, a cause for rejoicing in most nations of the world – and amongst their leaders (with apologies to Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong-un).
Judith Butler is a professor of comparative literature and critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley (USA). In her book, “The Force of Nonviolence”, Ms Butler, whilst declaiming that Adolph Hitler and National Socialism is the model by which all other fascist forms of government should be identified and judged, nevertheless identifies “a general logic of destruction that kicks in when the downfall of a tyrant seems nearly certain.” This destructive impulse was evident in Hitler’s actions when it seemed that the Nazi defensive stronghold was vanquished. Hitler “resolved to destroy the nation itself, ordering a destruction of transportation and communications systems, industrial sites and public utilities. If he was going down, so too was the nation.” Hitler’s missive was called “Destructive Measures on Reich Territory”.
Donald Trump is not Hitler, his politics are not military war (though questions and evidence of civil strife in the USA have latterly arisen), but his actions following the 2020 American Presidential Election would suggest that “Destructive Measures on American Territory” could be ascribed to Donald Trump’s political activities as the 45th President of the USA.
The above-mentioned actions would include: a refusal to accept the result of the Presidential Election; destructive criticism of the American electoral system; false charges of corruption amongst civic leaders and election officials; incitement to violence of followers; attempted character assassination of political opponents; the pardon of convicted American political figures, and more.
Donald Trump, recently referred to as “the man who has haunted the world’s dreams and sparked a thousand nightmares”, has all but lost. He will leave the White House, or be removed if necessary, but not before his leave-taking makes its maximum impact. The Trump presidency, “a shameful chapter in the history of the republic”, will soon be over, but that is not to forget those announcements and acts which, over the past four years, have caused pain and disgust, as Trump sank to ever lower depths. He is widely regarded amongst his opponents, and many neutral observers, as the worst President in American history.
In addition to those words and action mentioned above, one critic counted that, amongst his many misdemeanours, Donald Trump:
- Engaged in ripping children from their parents and keeping them in cages.
- Wrote what has been described as “blithely exchanged love letters with the murderous thug who rules the slave state of North Korea”.
- Coerced the Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, or else “lose the funds that it needed to defend itself against Vladimir Putin” (the high crime for which he was nearly impeached).
- Denied the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, insisting that “it would melt away” (with or without the use of domestic detergent), thereby leaving more than 300,000 Americans to their fate and to their deaths.
When the above are added to his misogynistic and racist comments, the interminable lies, and the electoral turmoil Trump is currently causing with his calculated process of litigation following his defeat in the USA Presidential Election, it is not complicated to work out why it is that his opponents, indeed, neutrals everywhere, wanted Trump’s defeat and ejection from power.
For the winner, however, there has been no “swift moment of euphoria and elation, no unambiguous landslide announced on election night with a drumroll and fireworks display”. Instead, there has been a steady and ongoing counting of the votes, “a verdict delivered in slow motion”, and, perhaps what may prove to be more significant than any of the foregoing, the failure of Joe Biden to win a majority of seats in the USA Senate. This will make it more difficult for a Biden administration to tackle those things that urgently need attention – the climate crisis, racial injustice, the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, greater firearms control, economic inequality, and the USA’s dysfunctional electoral system.
In terms of the American Presidential race, it may be, indeed, “all over…bar the shouting”, but the very nature of this shouting shows that, although Donald Trump is banished from the Oval Office and the power it conveys, Trumpism will live on in the USA, with the potential for future damage to the people, political system, international reputation and activities of the United States of America.
For the time being, however, democrats everywhere may enjoy the defeat of a populist demagogue, a narcissistic rogue who will take away his ball if the game is not played according to his rules and in his own ball park.