So that’s it, Donald Trump has gone… except he hasn’t, at least not yet. He may well have gone by the time you read this. He may just have equally bricked himself into the Oval Office with four more years’ supply of cheeseburgers, barking executive orders down a phone that the secret service has cut the wires to. He also could, conceivably have overturned a significant electoral loss to President Joe Biden as we will all, well not quite all of us, soon be used to calling him. It seems far fetched, but in 2020, and particularly if you are talking about Donald Trump, just about anything can happen, and it usually does.
If we are to write an obituary to the Trump administration now, what do we make of it all? Too much to go into in these few column inches, but he is, was always, and looks set to remain, a polarizing character. He surfed to the White House on the back of a wave of anti establishment sentiment, and somewhat bafflingly remained an anti establishment outsider from the literal heart of the establishment. The champion of those in America who don’t trust their government, a privileged billionaire from a wealthy upbringing who convinced the underemployed, underpaid and those disenfranchised from the American dream that he was their guy.
What has he done for them? Realistically next to nothing. His wall was never built, his healthcare reforms never made it out of the delivery room, his trade spats with China and his denial of climate change over burning good old American fossil fuels have likely set Uncle Sam back years in the gold rush to renewable energy riches.
His ego driven denial of Covid has been a catastrophe, hell bent on dismissing it as a hoax, or refusing to wear a mask fearful that it would dent his ego, or hurt his ´numbers´ has hastened an unknown total of thousands of America’s poorest to their graves prematurely. Many are the same Americans who hailed him as their savior, and still do.
If this is the end of Donald Trump as leader of the free world, his legacy, as they drag him by the heels from the White House, is one of hate and division. Speaking to the poorest in society, repeating their problems back to them and externalising blame is not a new trick, but it is political dynamite. The truth is that the poorest in American society are victims of the failure of their government to adapt to the changing landscape of the 21st century, the shifts in political power, economic strengths and new technologies and working practices. The causes are complex, the solutions doubly so…. but blame the Mexicans, the Muslims, the immigrants or the socialists and you give desperate people a flag they can salute, and why not wrap yourself in it while you are there? It’s the same logic that had people burning witches when the plague went through town, or sacrificing goats when the rains didn’t come. It’s kryptonite when people are on their uppers, and they are going to be that way for a good while yet.
So what can we expect of President Biden? Don’t get your hopes up. I mean no disservice to the man, he’s no spring chicken for sure, but his to-do list would terrify the strongest of leaders. A pandemic ripping through the population, the neglect under the Trump administration has led to the situation being way past controllable. We face a global recession larger than any perhaps in nearly a century, the world is changing at a breakneck pace, and the USA is reminiscent of a punched out heavyweight champion whose former glories are behind them as they face younger and fleeter challengers.
Biden’s biggest problem is Trump’s biggest and baddest legacy, Hate. Donald has not made America great again, he has made America hate again. Hate outsiders, hate the government, hate the establishment and hate each other, and that is an enormous problem to fix, and until you fix that problem you haven’t a hope in hell of fixing any of the other ones.
Let’s let President Biden get to work, he has a lot to crack on with. Just not being Donald Trump is enough for now, but there is more work ahead of him than has faced most presidents, and time isn’t on his side, it seems unlikely that he would contest a second term, and in the next few years if he manages to broker an armistice, take down the temperature, and stop Americans and their copycat followers around the globe from trying to rip each other’s throats out then his legacy would be a worthy one. I’m not sure how he stacks up as a politician yet, but he seems like a nice guy, and I’ll take that right now.
It’s nice to be nice.
By Phill McCoffers