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Monday, June 17, 2024

A No Vote For Donald Trump – By Lawrence Nwobu

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U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks in New York

America is undergoing a season of unusual politics with candidate Donald Trump—the business mogul turned politician who has brought a dark twist to American democracy;  a nation that  has no doubt, given the world many things one of which is the longest modern democracy that somehow managed to avoid the usual pitfalls, from military coups, authoritarian regimes, election rigging, one party states and  other such excesses that mostly characterised other nations since 1789 when it all began  with the election of George Washington as its first president.

The functionality of American democracy from inception is best attested to by the fact that of the 44 democratically elected presidents they have had todate, 18 have been from the Republican party while 15 have been from the Democratic party. In between they have also had 4 Democratic-Republican presidents, 4 Whigs, a federalist and a few others who were non party candidates. In all, American democracy has showcased the most enduring example of plural competitive democracy at its best, with political parties that at all times—even in the then brutish 18th century when    dictatorships were rife and civilisation was yet in incubation; nonetheless managed to function optimally without the usual suppression of opposition parties. Thus making it possible to compete and win elections against incumbents at regular intervals.

By virtue of adherence to true democratic fundamentals and respect for rules, regulations and ethics guaranteeing free and fair elections devoid of executive interference or manipulation, American democracy has since become the global standard by which democracy is juxtaposed across the world. Against the backdrop of this successful democratic experiment, the question is often asked: how did America succeed in building a successful democratic experience even in times when the world was decidedly autocratic? The answer is simple. Much more than anything else, American democracy has been driven and sustained by values. Those values are underlined in the patriotism, dedication to selfless service or in other words “the concept of America first”, the rule of law, honesty and uncompromising principles by which the two major political parties and indeed even the smaller ones are stubbornly rooted.

Based on these values, strictly adhered to, it was simply impossible for any candidate or party to do or even contemplate doing anything against the interests of the country. Beyond ideological inter party divisions on the best way to govern the nation for the greater good of all  between a capitalist leaning Republican party and a socialist leaning Democratic Party, all Americans essentially put their country first. These values no doubt furnished America with the grit to craft, nurture and sustain their democracy at a time the rest of the world was under the yoke of despotic regimes. But this lofty American democracy now faces its steepest challenge, not in the system itself but in the frontal challenge to its undergirding values that the bizarre candidacy of Donald Trump now represents.

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When Trump joined the race for the Republican party nomination in the summer of 2015 with the theme “making America great again” most saw it as a fluke that would soon pass. He was largely considered an unserious and somewhat comical candidate. The expectation of his eventual demise was so rife, that for the rest of 2015 all major commentaries projected the eventual collapse of his campaign. It wasn’t until the early parts of 2016 that his staying power became obvious and the possibility of winning the Republican nomination began to dawn on a bewildered American audience. As it turned out, Trump had succeeded in using racist, divisive and fear-baiting campaign rhetoric’s to cultivate a following amongst the Republican base. Promising to ban Muslims from entering America, deport immigrants and build a wall on the Mexico—American border, he had largely succeeded in exciting the republican base.

In the course of the campaign he has repeatedly employed extreme rhetoric; referring to Mexicans as drug couriers and rapists who bring crime to America. He has spoken of censuring Muslims living in America. He has mocked the disabled, asked children to be thrown out of his campaign, insulted women and demanded that protesters in his campaign be beaten. Many had thought that such extreme language would cease as he moved from the Republican party contest to the national elections, but that has not happened.  Of late he has asked Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email, indirectly incited Clinton’s assassination by suggesting 2nd amendment activists could stop her. His style and language has been so much laced with bigotry and violence that many are beginning to question his mental health.

Like Barry Goldwater; a Republican party nominee in 1964, Trump has departed from conventional issue based politics to extremely divisive campaign that bodes no good for America.  In spite of his shortcomings he does enjoy significant levels of support that made it possible for him to win the Republican nomination. His support base is mainly amongst those who see him as a messiah who would solve the Muslim problem, the immigration problem, put African Americans and Latino Americans  in their place and ultimately  return America to an imagined past glory premised on absolute White dominance. On the surface, some of the reasons can look good but there the danger and deceit begins. Firstly; a Trump presidency carries with it more dangers than solutions to any problems. If he wins the world would enter a dangerous era of racist, divisive politics.

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Hate mongering, bigotry, racism/tribalism and divisive rhetoric would become acceptable in politics. It would encourage the rise of racist candidates across all spectrums of American politics. It would embolden and encourage African leaders to continue and or to pursue divisive tribal politics. Around the world, it would also encourage the rise of similarly racist or tribal candidates and regimes that will be premised on bigotry, hate, fear and even ethnic cleansing and or genocide as a consequence of divisive politics. Most importantly, America will become highly divided amongst large segments of its population from where its fall will begin as “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Secondly; the manifest deceit of a Trump presidency is that he would not be able to actualise his promise to ban Muslims from entering America, build a wall on the Mexican border that the Mexicans will have to pay for and deport all immigrants.

The reality of politics will ensure that he maintains strong ties with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and other Muslim nations for geo-political reasons. Ultimately; the only thing a Trump presidency will achieve is to move America and the world into an era of racism, tribalism and other forms of bigotry while achieving nothing else in real terms. Trump represents not only a danger but also a negation of the basic decency, civility and values that underpinned America’s democracy. Those who support him should move beyond raw emotions and face reality. Fortunately, America has a more discerning populace that like they did to Barry Goldwater in 1964 would most likely send Trump home this November and save the world from the rise of another dangerous demagogue through the ballot box.

Lawrence Nwobu

Email: lawrencenwobu@gmail.com

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