Trump Vs Trump
Come this fall, the US citizens will have a moral, not a political choice to make. The US Presidential elections will be, for the first time in history, a trial of an individual in the court of the people, not a contest between two candidates.
The battle will be Trump Vs Trump and the accomplishments and weaknesses of his rival candidate will be irrelevant. The people will decide between the two Trumps they have seen.
On the one hand, they have a Trump, who made “America great” by adopting the “America First” dictum, withdrew from the nation’s international commitments, reduced unemployment, filled the coffers of the rich, bulldozed environmental constraints and built walls around him.
More recently, they have seen a second Trump, who mishandled the biggest health crisis in the history of mankind through his bewildering neglect, inefficiency and callousness and made America worst among the affected countries. He appeared confused, incoherent and incompetent and reached the height of absurdity when he invented his own treatment for COVID-19 with no scientific basis.
The first Trump had his attractions for the rich, the gun lovers, the Bible Belt and the theorists of white domination. The economy boomed, external commitments were reduced and general peace and prosperity prevailed. He set his eyes on the Nobel Prize for Peace rather than on war except for a couple of trade wars, which pleased his admirers. He pledged to bring back American soldiers from abroad.
With all his unpredictability, idiosyncratic behavior and boastfulness, his approval rate rose domestically, while his image abroad took a beating. Many Americans with insular minds enjoyed the splendid isolation of the country. He appeared invincible with growing support from vested interests.
The first Trump had the invisible, but conditional, support from a large community of a professional bureaucracy below the level of Presidential appointees, who safeguarded governance and insulated it from the vagaries of the President. They kept the integrity of governance intact by not allowing the fundamentals of the administration to be upstaged by Presidential directives.
At one point, one of them anonymously announced that he was carrying out the President’s instructions in spirit rather than in letter. One instance of such care was the handling of the President’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. There was no great enthusiasm to reverse many important measures the industry had adopted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
They remained prepared to bring back those measures under a new administration. The small print in the implementation orders saved the established positions of a responsible government.
The first Trump paled into insignificance when a confused, ill-informed and arrogant second Trump emerged, first with great confidence that COVID-19 was just a flu and then overruling health experts to suggest quack remedies and showing indecent hurry to open out the economy for business, ignoring the great risk to lives it would entail.
His press conferences became chaotic and directionless. He waged battles with health experts, with Governors and threatened China and even India. The misinformation emerging from the White House made the citizens desperate day by day.
The President hit the rock bottom of medical knowledge when he suggested a simple formula of injecting disinfectants into Coronavirus patients. The US became first in casualties and infections with no sign of relief. The proposal to end lockouts became as bizarre as the treatment as there was no estimate of the risks involved.
According to Tejaswi Nanduri (Madras Courier) “Trump is every Batman villain rolled into one” as he seems to have several motivations which are not apparent. For instance, Trump has been promoting hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 and it turned out that he had a financial interest in a firm that manufactured the medicine.
It is also reported that Trump is serving President Putin’s interests by destroying NATO, launching trade wars and creating chaos in his own country. Given the fact that Putin had helped Trump in the last elections, there may be hope that history will repeat itself.
Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace placed the responsibility of the loss of reputation of the US on the President’s shoulders.
“The erosion of the deliberative process within the White House and the subversion of the decision-making system by the president’s idiosyncrasies thus have left the United States — the world’s richest and most powerful nation — with the odious distinction of leading the global death toll,” he wrote on May 04, 2020.
The public opinion polls have begun to reflect the extreme anger against the second Trump. The wind seems to have turned against him. The evidence is beginning to mount that COVID-19 is damaging the economy that Trump often touted as his supreme achievement.
His leadership qualities have been thoroughly discredited and the frontrunner has suddenly become the underdog. The latest poll suggests that Trump is losing ground to Joe Biden both nationally and in key battleground states.
Trump’s current mediocre approval ratings (at 44-45%) are ominous. In traditionally Republican Arizona, a must-win state for Trump, he trails Biden 52 to 43%.
He’s down by 6 points to Biden in Florida. Biden is ahead in every swing state. Still no one is categorical about the end of the Trump administration in early 2021 because the time between now and January 2021 is too unpredictable.
It is not even certain that a normal election can be held in November. The most authentic medical voice in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci has predicted that Coronavirus will be very much there this fall.
The only certainty about the fall election, it seems, is more uncertainty about the state of the post-Coronavirus political landscape. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said very recently that the President will try to postpone the elections.
Congress would have to pass a new law to postpone the 2020 election by a Constitutional amendment. The inauguration date was set in 1933 when the 20th amendment to the Constitution was ratified. To make another, revising the inauguration date, would require approval by a two-thirds majority of both the House of Representatives and Senate, then ratification by three-quarters of the states.
There is no precedent of any Presidential election having been postponed under any circumstance. The mid-term elections were actually held during the plague in 1918. A proposal to have the elections by postal vote has ignited a controversy for fear of misuse.
If the elections are held anytime soon, the second Trump will most likely defeat the first and the country will be bequeathed to the Democrats, not because the people like Biden more, but they like the new Trump even less.
History will record the sacrifices that the US has made in terms of lives and livelihood as the price the country had to pay for a regime change. It will be a moral choice the Americans will make to punish a President.
The world will heave a sigh of relief that a ruler who tramples upon the lives of his people shall meet his nemesis in his own country.
It will be the ultimate poetic justice in history.