Tweetin’ and bleatin` till Biden beat ‘im!
Until 2020, I thought 2016 was the unlikeliest year I would see and one of its unexpected happenings was the election of Donald Trump as US President. Supposedly part of a populist wave that would overturn the old order of politics the implication was that this would be change for the better. Four years on he has left a trail of havoc that has done the US no service at all. In fact, as umpteen people have already said, he made America grate again. It would be wrong though to label Trump as some sort of maverick outsider- look at the numbers of people who still voted for him after a Presidency that even impartial experts believe will turn out to be the worst in history. The really strange thing is that there are clearly millions of Americans who think as he does, who refuse to engage with the factual details and see things only from the narrow minded parameters of their own interests.
At first, I did harbour an idea that, whatever he was like till then, Trump might be lifted by high office to do something worthwhile. That he was like the trouble maker who suddenly becomes the responsible citizen when he gets a job that befits his skillset. Instead he was actually worse than a lot of us had imagined. I’ll qualify this by admitting my view is from the outside looking across the pond. Perhaps hiding amongst the noise of Trump’s media barrage there were some initiatives and policies that genuinely did some good? Maybe we didn’t hear about them in the UK because news bringers loved the controversy, the tantrums, the rudeness. Maybe…
What I did witness though was a childishness I have never seen from a world leader before in my lifetime. It was there early on in his very literal attempt to deal with illegal immigration. Rather than the nuance of policies and programmes he was going to build an actual physical wall! It so sidesteps the issue and a wall was something he built time and again in a metaphorical manner. His major achievements seem to have been withdrawls from worthwhile treaties, rebuttals, refusals to accept facts in front of him. Like a child covering their ears and repeating “I’m not listening, I’m not listening” Trump preferred to build another wall rather than engage. I remember just months into his Presidency he started whining about how he was being criticised more than any other President ever. That in itself was unlikely in a country that’s produced Presidents like Nixon or Bush but his tone suggested that all he really wanted was praise.
His response to facts was even worse. “Fake news” he would declare probably even if told that he was Donald Trump! He operated of course behind the Twitter barricades. Like many an opinionated soul he took solace in the platform’s word limit which meant he could pound out soundbite after soundbite like some revolutionary rather than a President, most of them ill considered jibes and overblown claims. His favourite word was SAD (capitals of course).
It was sad though not in the ironic manner he meant because it dimished his office and surely the US’s standing in the world. His reaction to his election defeat is a perfect summary of the way he treated everything and everybody- without respect or humility.
I suppose we have to be glad that Trump was not as dangerous as we’d imagined he could be. His childish personality included some fear so he never launched missiles or took things too far with another superpower. When an actual proper challenge came along last year in the form of Covid 19 he was paralysed with denial. Even when he had the illness himself he declared he had beaten it with barely an acknowledgment of the doctors who’d no doubt given him five star treatment. Then he carried on refusing to face the seriousness of the situation. If he wants to think about his legacy then that is it- a far greater death toll amongst even his own supporters because he refused to grapple with Covid in the way all other world leaders had to.
I don’t know much about Joe Biden but the first time I heard him speak after his win was confirmed it was a relief to hear a proper human being again at the helm of the US. Donald Trump will no doubt go on building his walls, tilting at windmills and fighting his own cause but I would hope that in the cold light of day, even if he is able to seek election again, people will remember just what a hopeless, irresponsible and toxic President he was.