Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: Like a madman, outgoing President Donald Trump is the least aware of his madness, so are the ignorant least of ‘Trumpism’ aware of their ignorance. They propound their ignorance as if it were a most profound truth and dismiss with utter contempt those who would correct them; Like Balaam, the obstinate prophet, they insist on their way, ignoring every remonstration they alter their course. Until, perhaps, an angel from heaven, or a sudden epiphany, comes upon them and compels them to change course.
Perhaps the damnedest lie ever told about Donald Trump is the description of him as a populist. He indeed campaigned in a (somewhat) populist way in 2016. However, as President, he has pursued the most furiously anti-populist agenda in modern American history, outdoing even Reagan in this way. If he had genuinely combined real populism with xenophobic right-wing authoritarianism–like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil or Viktor Orbán in Hungary–he would almost certainly be celebrating a decisive reelection victory right now.
Fatoumatta: Character is everything. Outgoing president Donald Trump still has 71 days to spend in the White House, but his presidency is already being tensed in the past. These past four years, he did things his way – and had his way. He was not bothered about his image and its crooked hue. That he was called ‘Don, the Con’ got a shrug from him. He gave notice of his brattish propensities during his first campaigns four years ago. He said he could commit a capital offense and get away with it: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I would not lose any voters, OK?” Confident Donald Trump said this at a campaign stop at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, four years ago, and his supporters clapped for him. They did not cringe; they instead said he was the right thing for America. They voted him into the nation’s highest office, believing he would ‘Make America Great Again.’ He became President and got away with very many unbelievable wrongs putting question marks on America’s civilization. His supporters enjoyed every bile he fed the system and beatified his sacrileges with endorsements. They still do even after this loss. Critics call them ‘Trumptards,’ a pejorative coinage that sounds like that naughty word ‘retard.’
However, what is “Trumpism”? Donald Trump himself may well remain a significant force in American politics, perhaps as a commentator on Fox News Network, perhaps even as a presidential candidate in 2024. However, I do not think he will have any real successors. However, fervently people like Senator Joshua Hawley of Missouri senator Thomas Bryant Cotton of Arkansas not to mention the imbecilic Donald Trump sons may pledge allegiance to “Trumpism,” it is improbable that any of them will be able to establish Trump-like emotional bonds with the Making America Great Again (MAGA) crowd. Leaders with that kind of demagogic skill are scarce (of course, it is Trump’s ‘only’ political skill). However, here is the significant complication: Considered and solely as a set of policies, most, though not all, of “Trumpism”, is just mainstream Republicanism as it has existed since the Goldwater/Nixon transformation of the GOP in the 1960s.
Fatoumatta: I fear the adamant refusal by Donald Trump to be the gentleman and concede to President-elect Joe Biden may not end well because of the 2nd Amendment, which allows private citizens to bear arms. The Amendment, pushed by America’s fourth president James Madison, aimed to ensure that should the government turn dictatorial, private citizens could rise with their guns and fight back against that prospect. America is awash with guns in the hands of civilians. As of writing this, scores of Donald Trump’s supporters have started sending threatening calls to election officials who declared President -elect Joe Biden the victor in their states, saying that the Second Amendment was passed for moments like these. They are just waiting for marching orders from the Outgoing President Donald Trump.
Fatoumatta: If Trump’s behavior is anything to go by, he will not tell his supporters to stand down when they take to the streets brandishing weapons to stop what they see as a fraudulent takeover of government. Remember when white supremacists came out one night with flaming torches, their faces contorted devilishly, and all that Trump did was strike a moral equivalence between the racists and those who confronted them. If anything, he will douse the flames with even more fuel. He is a mad man who is ready to do anything in the service of his megalomania, morally unmoored to the extreme—a mad bull in a china shop.
Fatoumatta: If there is a character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is no character, beauty becomes ugliness. We have seen how in just four years, the enviable character of America’s democracy succumbed to the moral ugliness of a man they elected as their leader. Donald Trump’s inveterate critic, the late John McCain, left several sound bites. One of them is the warning that “it is your character and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy.” That is what Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, meant when he said character is destiny. If you have a good head but lacks character, the head will soon lose its goodness. The outgoing American President, in his glory, alienated every icon, living and dead, including his country’s long-gone founding fathers. Nothing, not history, not truth, was too sacred for him to assault. Trump’s respect was chiefly for everything, Trump. He defined everything of value according to his standards. He displayed an uncommon disdain for fact and science. He flipped truth with the same passion he cuddled the untrue. In his way and fate, we see that ultimately, what matters is character.
Fatoumatta: Outgoing president Donald Trump is still not done with his ways. He wants to do what the Gambian politician does after a loss at the polls. He wants to be the United States’ first Supreme-Court-installed President. He thinks he has the numbers there, five of nine. He wants to use his country’s apex court to do what his 70 million supporters could not achieve for him through the ballot. Five years ago, he boasted to Americans that he knew “more about courts than any other human being on earth.” Four years ago, he asked Americans: “Who knows more about lawsuits than I do? I am the king.” Because Donald Trump is determined to be disgraced, he is not prepared to accept the verdict of democracy and tiptoe into the night as nine of his predecessors did after their reelection losses. Donald Trump is a rich man with a poverty of character. He had four years to body-fill that dent in his makeup. However, he was carried away by an inexplicable fascination with powers he did not have and the noise from his hosanna orchestra. The Trump people enjoy(ed) his theatrics. They hailed the extremism in his ‘America First’ rhetoric. For four years, they clapped as their god shot at values held sacred by his country. They thought because he won in 2016, he must win this year and forever. They were wrong. As an experience was/is all drama, and the curtain must undoubtedly fall on his era as it does on every stage.
Fatoumatta: Over 70 million voted for Trump despite his deranged psyche and his divisive agenda. The barrage of tweets pissing on the election’s credibility is part of his strategy to incite his supporters into rising. Already we hear that he is keen on holding nationwide rallies, brandishing the obituaries of people he claims were allowed to vote. One hopes that in the vicious battle between his dark impulses and better angels, it is his better angels that will prevail. We hear that his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are trying to pump sense into his head, telling him that he should exit the stage without melodrama. We wish them well in that noble effort.
Alagi Yorro Jallow