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The Presidential transition

A new President has been inaugurated in Washington. The incumbent left grudgingly after creating chaos and pandemonium. Back in 1796, when George Washington transferred power to John Adams, it was the first time in the history of the world that a peaceful transition of power had occurred to another elected representative. Over the course of more than two hundred years, the transitions have been largely peaceful, although the losing side was bitter in some cases. 

 

Elections have been contested in the past. Which is fair and square in a democracy. But in all the cases, except the current one, the decision of the courts have been honored, regardless of the personal animosities. It is like the DRS (decision review system) in cricket. You ask the third umpire to adjudicate by watching the videos and checking evidence from the supporting devices. The ruling which comes out is final. What President Trump did is persisting with his lies  regardless of the court decisions and thereby instigating his committed supporter base to commit an assault on the citadel of democracy, the Capitol building while the federal legislators were in session to certify the election.

 

This is tantamount to not only not accepting the decision of the third umpire, but instead inciting the spectators to invade the ground and beat the umpires into reversing their decision. That proved to be the straw which broke the camel’s back. World wide condemnation and strong reaction from the nation itself forced Trump to go on the back foot. It led to an impeachment for a second time, the only President to have this dubious honor.

 

From the day of election, leading to the attack on the Capitol, Trump pedaled lies of the election being stolen. He so convinced his base, which is significant but not enough to win a majority, that they poured in $200 million towards reversing the election results. And marched towards the Capitol to fight on his behalf. He and his sons have threatened legislators to reverse the election results. Most notably the recorded phone call with Georgia legislators made its rounds in the international media. He was asking them to find the non-existent votes and evidence for fraud. The involvement of the whole family in political aggression sounds like the Gandhi-Nehru family. With Sanjay Gandhi ruling the roost during the emergency. 

 

In the aftermath, both Twitter and Facebook banned his account as he was using social media to foment unrest.There was a question of whether the technology companies can enact such bans. And who should be regulating them. When the social media or the internet is being used for stoking the flames, it is justified. Like the Indian government sometimes shutting down the internet in Kashmir.

 

A significant chunk of Indian media favors Trump for his supposed standing up to Pakistan and China. Similarly, the western media does not favor PM Modi for not being secular enough. I straddle the fence in between and oppose both these stands. With due respect and malice towards none, I present my take. You don’t stand up to someone by tweeting or by unilateral trade actions. Trump pulled out of all international alliances, alienated the Europeans, Canadians, Australians, Japanese etc. Instead he initiated a unilateral trade war with China by increasing tariffs and making Chinese goods in the US expensive. China retaliated, making the American farm produce expensive. This hurt the American farmers and Trump had to subsidize them for the fear of  losing his base. Compare this with President Bush (the first) who built an alliance for invading Iraq when Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait. Recently PM Modi got Saudi Arabia and UAE to support India against Pakistan. 

 

My acid test for a leader is the following. Would you work for him or her ? Would you, point him or her as an ideal to your children ? I can answer both of the questions positively for Modi or Obama but not for Trump. Does it mean that Joe Biden or Kamala Harris are the best ? Absolutely not. They will, at one time or another, say something or do something which will hurt a section of the population. On an average on a comparative basis they are likely to be better than Trump. 

 

What will the future look like ? We cannot be sure. Trump  with his oversized ego who built his political career on lies, starting with claims that Obama was not born in the US, is not likely to keep quiet or go into retirement.  He is likely to constantly ignite his base, making the Republican party dependent on his family. Trumpism is not likely to go away either. The rural uneducated white folks have been ignored for too long. A couple of books I read in the last couple of years  explain the psychology of his base. “Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance and “Educated” by Tara Westover. This section of the society needs to be cared for. The white supremacy cannot be placated nor will it die out completely. It will keep rearing its ugly head from time to time. 

 

I think I understand the abnormal behavior of Trump – lying, aggression, acting tough, with malice towards everyone except Putin. But that is a subject for another blog. While the Republican party grapples with the Trump issue, democrats have something to worry about. Not to let the extremists like AOC (Alexandra O Cortez), Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren to dominate. The immediate concern is to vaccinate the country against Covid-19 and then reignite the economy. Strife in a democracy is not bad. Resilience of democracy is that Trump is gone while the other global villains Xi and Putin still hang around. Only biology can take care of them. 

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Prasad Ganti

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Suresh Rao
Suresh Rao(@sureshrao)
10 months ago

Incessive, cutting edge analysis of Trump legacy in USA. Excellent narrative. Well done Prasadji.

Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi(@bakshink)
10 months ago

Beautiful article. White supremacists are his strength and their stubbornness is really that what was Trump’s characteristic. It doesn’t cut much ice across the whole polity but it is quite a strength, the glimpse of which we had as they barged in on Capitol Hill. Somewhat similar obduracy is what that we are seeing in the agitation spearheaded by the strong-headed rural farming community of Punjab.
It doesn’t behove the President to act like Trump did throughout his stay in the august office but did he care. I chanced upon reading one of the above books “Educated” as a Chinese fan send me a pdf and it brought to my knowledge the extreme orthodoxy that exists in America. It was a startling revelation to me. I couldn’t imagine such people existed in supposedly most advanced nation on earth and we if you have such a people who make your vote bank then, it is not difficult to understand what goes in the mind of Trump.

Navneet Bakshi
Navneet Bakshi(@bakshink)
10 months ago
Reply to  Prasad Ganti

What is the subject of the other book HillyBilly Elegy that you mentioned in your article? Is it as astounding as the book Educated by Tara Westover? I had heard about Mormons but I didn’t know about there such extreme orthodoxy? Making bunkers and storing oil and food and making herbal medicines, wearing skull caps for fevers Haha, but finally, Westovers did strike rich. It was remarkable for that woman to do Phd after having come from such a back ground. To me they didn’t seem to be different from the Taliban or even the ISIS except that they are not militant, they don’t kill the “non-believers”.

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