Is this what Americans want for the next four years?

Is this what Americans want for the next four years?


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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At the time of writing, over 60 million Americans have already voted. Former US Vice-President Biden, an effective politician and supporter of the policies of President Barack Obama, has never held presidential power. If he wins, it is yet to be seen how he will govern.

But his opponent in the race, President Donald Trump, is not untested. We have seen him for almost four years in full flight. In my last piece I rendered the judgement that he has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Some of my readers were quite incensed about the piece, but I have no reason to resile from the position taken.

Just under a week before the election and, having seen the president in action for almost four years, the American voter must ponder the very important question as to whether what they have seen and experienced of the Trump presidency is what they would want for the next four years.

What may be the likely consequences for America, and the world, for a Trump second term? I venture some answers below:

1) More mismanagement of COVID-19

Whoever wins the election will have to grapple with the pandemic way after inauguration. The pandemic will continue to be the defining issue simply because of the abysmal level of incompetence that the president has brought to the virus. Incompetence and bad political decisions have combined to ensure that the country will be engulfed by the virus into the winter and beyond.

In his desperation to win the election the president has doubled down with a kind of imbecility, if not malevolence, in continuing to cavalierly ignore the science on the virus and the protocols that have been put in place by the nation's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to control its spread. Not only has he ignored their recommendations, but he has embarked on a political Blitzkrieg across the nation in which thousands of people are bundled together in campaign events, many of them, including himself, not wearing masks.

His flippant and cavalier approach to the virus on his political platforms is abysmal, if not bordering on criminal negligence, considering the number of lives he is endangering in what are clearly super-spreader events. Since many of his supporters seem committed to vote on election day, the tragic irony is that a number of these people may become infected and may not be able to turn up for the vote.

The president just does not get it, and clearly believes that getting people out to his political events is more germane to his re-election than taking the necessary precautions to preserve lives. Anyone who believes that if re-elected he is going to get an epiphany that he should be more attentive to the virus has not been living on this planet in the last eight months. Expect more denials, obfuscation, intemperate tweets, and many more Americans needlessly losing their lives to the virus.

2) Growth in hostility, militancy of white supremacist groups

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks these groups in the USA, in a recent study indicated that under Donald Trump hate groups have increased by over 55 per cent. This is indicative of a surging racist movement driven largely by fear of the changing demographics in the country or, simply put, the browning of America.

By his clearly racist rhetoric, Trump seems to have given encouragement to these groups. I have no doubt that if he should be given a second term that there will be an exponential growth of these groups. They will, in fact, become more emboldened as they would consider Trump's victory their own and would see it as a vindication of their own agenda.

What the country should look out for is intensified hate speech issuing into violence. If there are violent protests, expect the “law and order” president to apply greater autocratic control of the streets. This time he will not be that benign.

3) Greater debasement of governance institutions

We have already seen the extent to which Trump has set aside conventions and rules that previous presidents considered sacrosanct in conducting the business of the Office of the President. His transactional approach to governance has driven him to assert himself over institutions and departments of government at unprecedented levels that have angered and frightened Americans.

For example, his hold over the Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr has been well attested to. If he is re-elected, one can expect him to be more emboldened to use the departments of government to further his own ends. Then, it would take a Democratic-controlled Congress to temper his worst behaviour.

4) Further widening of the economic inequality gap

Americans in the middle and lower classes have been hit hard by the economic fallout of the pandemic. The Trump rhetoric of a bullish stock market as an index of a thriving economy is not one that is shared by most Americans, many of whom, a study estimated, cannot find US$400 for emergency spending.

Whatever may be described as a Trump economic policy shamelessly favours the rich at the expense of the poor. One can be sure that if he is re-elected he will move for another massive tax cut to largely favour this constituency. Thus, expect the gap between the filthily rich and the harassed poor to widen further.

5) Greater alliance with dictators and right-wing populist leaders

If re-elected, Donald Trump may see himself as the de facto leader of this right-wing populist movement. Leaders with dictatorial dispositions will become more emboldened, as Trump could be relied on to turn a blind eye to the abuse of their citizens.

6) Further deterioration of America's standing in the world

This is almost a given if Trump is given a second term. Much of America's alliances and treaties with the international community will come under further strain and some may evaporate permanently. He has already succeeded in tearing up some of these treaties and international obligations.

The world expects better from America, but many of its important allies are growing weary as are many Americans. I believe that America's major allies are giving America until November 3 to get it right. If Trump is re-elected, all bets are off as they realise that they are on their own and they cannot rely on America's support going forward.

7) Finally, expect continued belligerence, falsehoods, and exhaustion of the nation. With the possible exception of Trump's cultic base, many Americans are weary of the Trump presidency. His irascible, in-your-face governance, supported by incendiary tweets, has given the nation an acute case of whiplash. People are tired and realise that the temperature of governance in which Trump's chaotic governance style is an embarrassment to the nation needs to be lowered. President Trump has shown himself unworthy of the office he holds.

Readers will note that I have not commented on the president's psychological deficits. I believe those are already well known and have already been baked in for the November 3 elections. But have no doubt that if he is re-elected, we will see the worse outworking of those deficits. Since he cannot serve a third term — although he may seek to further cement himself in power — he may feel he has nothing to lose.

He has not demonstrated that he has the capacity to temper himself, to curiously and calmly assess policies outside a template of his transactional approach to governance. He is not a deep thinker wedded to any carefully worked-out philosophy of governance by which he can be judged. Another four years in office will set the country back for years to come. Is this what Americans really want?

Dr Raulston Nembhard is a priest, social commentator, and author of the book WEEP: Why President Donald J. Trump Does Not Deserve A Second Term . Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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