The much-anticipated US election turned out to be a suspense thriller with news anchors plotting various combinations of wins in states for President Trump and his rival Joe Biden. As we write this, no clear winner has emerged with postal ballots being counted at a slow pace in the four deciding states. But the narrow path for the incumbent president is slowly closing by the hour.
As we look back on the last four years, we can definitely say Trump has left his mark with his unique brand of showmanship. He was more of an entertainer than a politician as he brought his reality TV experience to the White House job. He has a very personalised approach to matters of state craft after eight years of clinical method to issues by his cerebral predecessor Barack Obama, His warmth and conviviality was much in evidence as he forged a personal relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The fact this diplomacy did not go very far in achieving the stated objectives is another story.
Trump’s style does not conform to any pre-existing models. He follows his own personal predilections and idiosyncrasies. He does not play by rules and sets his own for others to follow. So it has been a roller-coaster ride at the White House with so many officials leaving their jobs after brief stints, while failing to cope with his mercurial ways.
Based on the initial results when he was leading in most of the crucial states, Trump came in front of the Press and claimed victory. He repeated his allegation that all mailed-in ballots were a fraud and an attempt to steal the election.
Trump, being what he is, can never accept the idea of losing. Losers is a word that he reserves for the worst people on earth. If he does not like you, he will call you a loser. In his worldview, success in life is all about winning. He cannot stand the thought of joining the ranks of losers.
He is supposed to have called the American soldiers who died in the war as losers, according to an Atlantic report. So Trump will never accept he has lost the election. He will forever be in denial and will blame fake news media and deep state for stealing an election that he has won. He will live in an alternative universe where his legitimate election has been unfairly stolen from him by fraud and cheating.
The idea of defeat rankles him so much that he once went to the extent of saying he will leave the country if Biden is elected president. He thinks he cannot live in a country run by a loser who stole election from him.
Another thing he loathes is the idea of a one-time presidency. He does not want to join the ranks of Jimmy Carter and George H.W.Bush. He reserved particularly harsh words for them, once calling Carter a terrible president.
American presidents inhabit the mind space of billions of people all over the world like no other. Sometimes, the presidents and the prime ministers of their own country do not exercise their minds so much. In a place that I come from - Telangana, India - every educated family can boast of someone who was either studying or working in the land of opportunity. Last time when I was in India, I saw even my village folks discussing Trump and the impact his politics will have on the Indians living there.
My hometown Hyderabad would not have been the booming city it is now but for the hundreds of thousands outsourcing jobs shipped from the US. So the lives of millions all over the world are tied up with the US economy and politics. So worldwide anxiety about the election is understandable.
Trump has a phenomenal energy for a 74-year-old. He exudes enthusiasm and physical strength of a 40-year-old with the mindset of a teenager raring for a fight in school yard. He called Jeb Bush low energy guy in the run-up to 2016 election. Bush scion could never come out of that blow and his much-fancied presidential bid ran aground. He never lost an opportunity to heap insults on “sleepy Joe”. In one of the election meetings, the incumbent president said Biden was choking like a dog at the first presidential debate, indirectly telling the world he is too old to run for the office. A 74-year-old pointing fingers at a 77-year-old is indeed comical. But that is par for course for Trump.
Trump acts and looks like a simpleton. But he is shrewd enough to understand the resentment boiling underneath.The unstated ethnic identity of the North American country has become contested due to vast migration of diverse ethnic people in search of economic opportunity. The US is essentially collection of people of European descent with a sizeable minority of Black people inherited from the tainted slave history and a tiny number of indigenous Indians. The European Whites, who think the country is theirs, started feeling insecure due to steady migration of people of other ethnicities changing the demographics of the country. At the moment, reliable data sources put the white population at 67 per cent of the total. The projection that the White population will fall below 50 per cent by 2045 has only accentuated the resentment.
Mike Huckabee, the celebrated conservative and a Republican presidential aspirant, once complained the country is “no longer looking like ours”. Resentment among the Whites has been building up for a while. Trump saw an opportunity in this and started tapping that anger to fuel his political career. He has put the immigration issue front and center and did whatever he could to stop the flow of migrants, both legal and illegal, during the last four years. He began constructing physical barriers along the southern border to stop “caravans” of illegal migrants.
The kind of traction he has got in this election, despite his pathetic handling of the pandemic, can only be attributed to the sense of solidarity shown by the White majority.
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