Ocaya p’Ocure

Joe BidenThe presidential candidates, incumbent President Donald Trump and his challenger former Vice President, Joe Biden, clashed in a televised debate on a right-wing FoxDonald Trump News TV station on September 29, 2020. The debate was moderated by a well-known journalist, Chris Wallace. It was truly a terrible event to watch. Such a debate raised high expectations not only for American voters, but also for us non-Americans. It was abysmal theater in which President Trump talked over his opponent with whom he was supposed to debate.

Today, the body count of dead Americans has reached more than 210,000, and still rising. One feels that the US, which is the richest country in the world,  must be working around the clock fighting this COVID–19 pandemic, but it seems that the incumbent leadership has failed miserably to control the pandemic. What the current American administration is doing is nothing short of being totally irresponsible, which can never bring the country or the world together. How can Trump think he should be re-elected by the people who continue to bleed unabated from the pandemic? Unfortunately, such a thing can happen, though very rarely.

The ongoing US presidential campaign for the November 3 election by the current US president is a terrible example for any democrat to see. A warning bell for what can happen if we do not collectively take care of ourselves against dictatorship, particularly in Europe. It is unfortunate that US political and financial hegemony over international trade and economy under the current occupant of the White House is disheartening.

The insults Trump hurled at Joe Biden were like a tropical hailstorm with commentators describing the whole thing as “brutally chaotic. People in general and voters especially, wanted to know what policies the White House will have for fighting the killer COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, they did not get any answers as to what the Trump Administration really wants to do. The incumbent had sadly chosen to resort to charlatanic political populism.

Regardless of ideological divides, politics must be a balancing act between reason and populism. Well-articulated policies must be presented to sway voters to support the candidates. Political populists are just like rattlesnakes which approach the undecided voters as if they are food to be devoured. Anyone who does not agree with the populist message will be quickly tossed aside as unpalatable. As an outside observer, I found it sad and boring to listen to President Trump during the debate. At present, there is too much going on in American politics, including the struggle against systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic meltdown. Yet the incumbent President has chosen only the path of populism linked to white nationalism. It will not be sustainable in the long run and it is even quite dangerous. This means that we from outside America cannot continue to uphold the United States as an example of good democratic governance.

Meanwhile, Trump’s challenger, Joe Biden, tried to cope with his incessant interruptions. At times he tried to reciprocate Trump’s insults by calling him a clown and at times he tried to present himself as a person who is on the side of the vulnerable and restless American voters.

Contrary to President Trump’s claim of going it alone, it is not surprising for anyone to see that even the United States, a large wealthy country, cannot handle its affairs alone. It is a fact that in the 20th century, Americans could not succeed alone against Fascism. Today’s struggle for democracy in the world is even more different from that of the 20th century which culminated in American dropping two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Americans had to join hands with other countries to form the United Nations after World War II with the aim of preventing future wars. The question now is, how will Trump make America Great Again when minority groups are still demanding for their human rights to be equal in the eyes of God?

Trump’s current political policies have been about cutting ties with the outside world including building a wall along the US-Mexico border, abandoning the international climate agreement, doing away with previously approved trade agreements with the European Union, and breaking promises to revive industries that have been knocked out by international competition. Such a policy makes no sense. Sadly, it does not benefit American voters in any way though some hapless Americans might think otherwise.

Despite President Trump having been president of the United States for four years and maybe for another four, wearing the coat of opportunistic populism and nationalism, it is clear that such a brand of political ideology has never benefited his own country, or the world, nor will it do so in the future.

Sham political populism enables leaders like Trump, Orbán of Hungary, and the late Kaczyński of Poland to go on an ego trip. They and their cahoots came to power with populist doctrines with completely blurred nationalist messages, which they managed to implement. Unfortunately, the isolationism inherent in such populist policies did not benefit their citizens except some of their close friends.

Mass execution in PolandWhen countries, groups and individuals feel that they are being governed unfairly, such as what the Black Lives Matter movement in America today is demonstrating against, it is obviously wrong and unacceptable. Such mode of governance reminds us of the horrific experience with Nazism in Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

The epithet “you are a clown and a liar” thrown at President Trump during the debate might have entertained some people in the debating hall. However, ill-conceived ideologies have neither pushed humanity forward nor united people in the past. That means that the world we live in today must not accept such bad ideas if we want to move forward.

Ocaya is a Social and political commentator in Uppsala.