STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan
Fifties and sixties were an era of Hollywood classics dominated by Cowboy movies. The stories revolved around good versus evil. Upright underdog standing up to the big bad greedy rich. These action, drama and exciting flicks impacted the young. Good prevailed over evil. It shaped behaviors and promoted a value system.
This influence extended beyond US borders. Since the end of the Second World War US influence and culture has dominated globally. It promoted standing up for your rights, equality, and justice. A Political leader’s words had credibility. Any deviance caused a big uproar. All this changed in 2016 when President Trump took office.
His tenure has been a soap opera with a new episode each day or night. Events unfolded during the day or through Trump’s tweets at night. A Presidency run on twitter. The US democratic institutions evolved over two centuries. There is the written law and unwritten norms and practices followed.
As a capitalist society businessmen and politicians interact but each remains within their own domain. It creates a sense of propriety protecting against conflict of interest. In a two party system both Democrats and Republicans promote their beliefs and agenda allowing the voters to choose their leaders.
The three power centers House, Senate and Presidency are not always controlled by the same party. Yet they manage to conduct appropriate governance through negotiations across party lines.
National interest takes precedence over partisanship. It started to diminish during President Obama’s tenure. Having a black President sharpened the divide. The Republicans, better described as Conservatives and Democrats as liberals, started to polarize around their core values.
This polarization came to fore in the last year of Obama’s 2nd term when a Supreme Court justice died and had to be replaced. The Republican Senate majority blocked his nominee for a full year. Reason: it should be the prerogative of the new President. This cause d’être was turned on its head in 2020 by Senate Republicans when Justice Ginsburg passed away a month before elections. They are ramming their nominee through brute force of Senate Majority in less than 30 days.
Supreme Court in USA is extremely important. All its nine Justices are appointed for life. They mostly lean the same as the party appointing them. They were evenly poised till President Trump got the opportunity to appoint two of them. Ginsburg was a liberal. A third conservative Justice will tilt the balance 6-3 in their favor.
At stake are issues that will shape American society for decades like Roe v Wade, Obamacare and many more key social issues. Trump is already mucking the waters to delegitimize elections by tying up matters in court. There is no better way than stacking the deck in your favor. This manipulation would help him when his financial misdeeds find their way to the Supreme Court. It will harm the institution, but Trump doesn’t care.
US President is arguably the most powerful person in the world. It requires dignity, grace and a paternal approach exercised by most incumbents. Not in Trump’s case. He has a serious moral deficit. Instead of draining the Washington’s swamp he has replaced it with an immoral swamp of indecency.
In his tweets and speeches he is mean, insults his rivals and makes up falsehoods. He has demoralized the nation and severely damaged US standing internationally. He has polarized and divided the American people creating wounds that will take years to heal. He demeaned the nations’ heroes who laid down their lives in service of the nation as “losers and suckers”. It is one of the lowest periods in American Presidency.
The pandemic has been grossly mismanaged. USA is 4% of world’s population yet it has over 20% of total deaths. Trump continues to defy science. Wearing a mask and social distancing could have saved 100,000 US lives. Yet he politicized it bringing tragedy into US households. It borders on criminality. Having contracted the virus himself he must reflect on this approach to save future lives. He has emerged as the World’s leader in incompetency.
Recent revelations of his tax records have confounded Americans and folks around the world. He is the most indebted American President with a personal debt upwards of 400 million dollars. It makes him extremely vulnerable to his debtors and that is a security risk. He bullies one and all in his desire to dominate except Putin. In his case he becomes mushy. Why?
He left Paris accord on climate change as denier of science. The fires in California and tornadoes and floods in the South are clear indicators of what the future holds. Trump doesn’t care, he is too busy monetizing his office to get re-elected to avoid prosecution.
He has yet to show any empathy for George Floyd, Breoanna Taylor or other black lives lost. Instead he is busy stoking racial prejudice. He would not condemn white supremacy; instead he is arming his militias as “election watchers”. He told “Proud Boys” terrorists before a TV and online audience of nearly 100 million to “stand back and standby”. Americans already numbed by continuous scandals are outraged.
Trump’s efforts at creating controversy in postal ballots will fail. The whole situation is building up to a crescendo where the nation will speak on 3rd of November. This election will have a historical turnout. I believe American Congress and Presidency will be decided by margins unseen in recent history. Republicans will take a beating at the hands of President Donald Trump.