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Eissh... America, what a Trump ride!

BY: Caroline Boateng

Growing up, the idea of the United States of America (USA) being earth's version of heaven was undoubted. Indeed, it was (until lately) the land of the free and brave, where opportunities were equal for all, learned or unlearned, privileged or poor.

America also set the standards of democracy. Its anthem: the Star-Spangled Banner, is laden with ideals of freedom, individual and collective efforts in nation building, and good conscience.

America was the standard in what individuals and states aspired.

The ideals it stood for persisted, until President Donald Trump appeared on the scene, turning the table of what most deemed normal on its head.

Tweeting President Trump seemed to go against every grain imaginable, throwing diplomacy to the wind.

Where most Presidents conveyed messages on policy or major decisions in choreographed, predictable 'meet the press', televised or other such directed sessions, he chose to shock, speaking invectives, tweeting to terminate the appointments of those who had fallen out with him, tweeting populist messages and insults to his opponents.

When, because of diplomacy, heads of states and Presidents held their tongues, Trump decided not to.

He rode roughshod over some of his people, particularly blacks, fanned and whipped up racist sentiments and pandered to white supremacists.

Coup

Things got to a head in the run-up to the elections. I always knew coup d'etats to be synonymous to Africa and the Latin Americas, but not the US.

However, for the first time in the history of the US, one did occur in Michigan on October 8, 2020. Thirteen people, belonging to the group called the Wolverine Watchmen, were arrested for plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer.

She had ordered the lockdown of the state to mitigate COVID-19 infection spread, and this far right group, prodded on by Trump, sought the solution of a coup d'etat and violence to get rid of a state governor, who they thought was acting against their rights.

At the height of the lockdown of Michigan, President Trump tweeted his approval of civil disobedience, derisively calling Whitmer "that woman from Michigan".

American vigilantism

Then, there was the issue of vigilantism. Indeed, some felt the intimidation in the run-up to the elections, with ‘macho’ Trump supporters wielding guns and intimidating those they felt were anti-Trump and democrats.

The  amusement for me in all this was when some macho truck drivers, Trump supporters, blocked the campaign tour bus of Joe Biden on a Texas highway, some days to election day, forcing the cancellation of some campaign events by the democrats.

The police had to be called in to escort the bus safely on, while the FBI is said to be currently investigating the matter.

The icing on the cake, on this Trump rigmarole, was a WhatsApp message of some food items given to some voters on Election Day in America!

It had all the makings of voting in Africa, where politicians give cash and items to get votes.

Record

Now that America has broken the African record, and perfected the art of “un-free” and unfair, elections, the African way, can it mediate in any way, in any election fallout in Africa or anywhere else in the world?

Perhaps the great lesson is that bad leadership is possible anywhere under the sun, even in the US, where democracy has been perfected.

Another lesson is the resilience of citizens. America has become a laughing stock under Trump to the chagrin of many citizens. But they endured.

Perhaps, with a Joe Biden Presidency, things will normalise and America will once again take its place as a beacon of democracy, and not a laughing stock.

 

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