Notwithstanding the damage that Donald John Trump has done to the United States in just four years, he deserves our gratitude for exposing some truths that had been buried underneath the veneer of a progressive nation that President Ronald Reagan had hoped would become “a shining city on a hill.”
Two things stand out for me. First, Trump has lifted the pretence by boldly espousing an entrenched, systemic racist view that he shares with most of the 71 million Americans who voted for him. He has brought America’s tribal politics into the open and shown that “the greatest nation on Earth” is far from embracing the greatest secular principle immortalised by Thomas Jefferson in America’s Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” Jefferson, a wealthy slave owner from Virginia, wrote in 1776.
Nearly 250 years later, millions of Americans, like Jefferson, still give lip-service to the concept of human equality. Their current president barely pretends to believe in the idea.
Second, the hypocrisy of large numbers of America’s so-called Evangelical Christians has been laid bare by Trump. They are no different from the so-called Christians who, for centuries, traded and owned slaves or the members of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (the Dutch Reformed Church) in South Africa who supported Apartheid.
Christians that manifest intolerance for others, including refugees and other struggling members of society, violate some of the written teachings of Jesus Christ.
Christians who embrace as their secular leader a pathological liar, hater and divider of God’s children violate God’s Word that was passed on to us by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
Mercifully, the majority of America’s voters have put a stop to the nightmare and bought their country – and most of the world – some relief from this very exhausting experience. We can breathe again!
True to form, Trump is ending his presidency with predictable drama that assures him a place among his country’s worst presidents. Even as the numbers showed that Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. had trounced him in the election earlier in the week, Trump tweeted on Saturday: “I won the election, big time.” This was written in capital letters, the cyber-equivalent of shouting.
He has now embarked on a mission of revenge, disruption and disorganization. He has fired his Secretary for Defence via Tweeter. More heads will probably fall before he leaves office.
At 74, the American president reminds me of childhood encounters with kids who, upon losing the card or board games, would claim victory even as they destroyed the play materials and everything in their path.
Had he been the ruler of any one of the world’s many pseudo-democracies, Trump would have almost certainly called in the troops, arrested opponents and declared a state of emergency “in the interests of national security.”
Luckily for America’s 331 million people, theirs remains a country whose long history of institutional governance and a national culture of rule by the consent of the people disables Trump from feeding his natural instincts.
Notwithstanding the bizarre spectacle of 71 million people voting for the re-election of this most unfit, desperately insecure, pathologically dishonest, irredeemably racist and destructive man in the 2020 election, America was crafted by its founders to resist and defeat attempts at illegal capture of power.
While he will frustrate the transition process, it is a given that not even Trump can illegally stay in the White House beyond 11:59 a.m. on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. If he tried to do so, the American internal security system, among them his current Secret Service protectors, would gently help him out of there.
Trump’s claims of electoral fraud may be due to one of three possible explanations. First, this may be a normal manifestation of grief. The classic sequence of emotional response to loss is denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and, in most cases, acceptance. These feelings do not always follow the script and we may well see Trump on a behavioural rollercoaster ride over the next few weeks.
However, Trump, being Trump, is very unlikely to reach the stage of acceptance. To do so requires a healthy dose of humility and emotional security, two attributes of which Trump is severely deficient. We should, therefore, expect him to spend the rest of his years claiming that his victory in 2020 was stolen by a “deep state.”
Second, Trump is a chronic truth-denier. He fashions a false reality that feeds his fantasies, then foists the same on his multitude of followers. The latter echoes the fiction back to him and he uses that as overwhelming evidence of his version of the truth.
The most likely reason for his claims of electoral fraud is an attempt to delegitimize the election and presidency of Joe Biden. Trump has not recovered from the psychological trauma of discovery and revelation that his election in 2016 was facilitated by Russian interference.
He knows that many of America’s opinion leaders and, perhaps, foreign leaders harbour the view that he was a Pyrrhic victory. Throwing mud at Biden’s election is a balm to Trump’s troubled soul. If he can convince himself that his successor is as illegitimate as him, Trump can leave the White House feeling he was a victim of the bad forces that he had railed against during his first presidential campaign.
Trump, the bully, is an emotionally weak man. Trump the bragger-in-chief is a terribly insecure man. One does not need a degree in human psychology to tell that the American president is possessed of a very delicate mental security.
His obsession with crowd sizes of adoring supporters, his name plastered on buildings and various trinkets, bragging about his wealth, claims of intellectual superiority and knowledge and his self-nomination for a Nobel Prize point to deep-seated inferiority and inadequacy.
His evidently high self-regard is a shield against the painful truth of his serious shortcomings and incompetence. It is his weak self-esteem that made Trump so obsessed with President Barack Obama that the centrepiece of his presidency was to undo his predecessor’s achievements.
That same vulnerability has amplified Trump’s emotional reaction to defeat by Obama’s vice-president, deputised by another African-American – a woman at that! One imagines the sense of humiliation that Trump must be feeling. Indeed, one feels sorry for him.
Trump will leave the White House in January 2021, but we should expect to hear from him for a long time. His delicate soul needs public adoration and padding with fantastic claims of greatness.
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