Unleashing the American mind

Published On: December 5, 2020 07:00 AM NPT By: Babu Ram Neupane

With a clearly diminished global leadership status after a failed coronavirus pandemic response, thinkers and critics around the globe are wondering if America, diplomacy and multilateralism are back again as claimed by President-elect Joe Biden.

Generally, Americans are known for their outgoing, empathic and compassionate character traits. But Donald Trump put a big asterisk mark behind these words by exalting the meanness and boastfulness in the mainstream. He exploited the procedural flaws and caveats within laws and institutions to reaping business benefits thereby providing perks for personal recognition through socialization with elite political circles. After hosting a reality TV show and attaining name and fame, he launched a long shot bid for presidency mainly to market his brand and business.     

He successfully tapped into white people’s rage, resentment, and anti-immigration sentiment to get him to the White House in 2016. Many had believed he would mend his ways and act presidentially once in the office. But that turned out to be a wishful thinking. He never amended his brash behavior. He relentlessly vilified his opponents, created alternative narratives and realities to dupe a large swathe of American public into believing in his vicious designs.

Buoyed by an accidental prize of presidency and global attention, he perceived himself invincible. He lived in a bubble as he filled cabinet positions with second grade and subservient people since initially installed qualified and competent people either abandoned him or he got rid of them. He peddled all sorts of lies, arrogance, delusion, narcissism and nostalgia to arouse a certain subset of racist white Americans. He championed tribalism, extreme partisanship and dangerous cancel culture. He jettisoned most important international agencies.

Banana republic

America looked like a banana republic as wannabe autocratic leaders of Hungary, Poland and Turkey kept receiving a boost from Trump rather than rebukes. The world was astounded watching Trump’s tantrums. America was going down the drain and became a butt of joke as a handful of Americans celebrated Trump’s aversion to political correctness. Such an epic contraction and corruption of American mind was unprecedented. America has never been more self-indulgent.

Everyone was thinking Trump was losing big. Only the MAGA fanatics were the ones who thought he was winning. The ‘mob boss’ has received more than seventy million votes. The extent of pollution and infection of American mind has been exposed. American tragedy is amplified by Biden’s remarks in his recent NYT interview with columnist Thomas Friedman: “I feel like I’ve done something good for the country by making sure that Donald Trump is not going to be president for four more years”. Now Trump is desperately trying to cling to power by disputing the outcome of a free and fair election. He is inciting his gun-toting and beer-guzzling MAGA zealots to protest the non-existent voter and election fraud through his misleading and outrageous tweets. America’s democracy has never been seen more fragile and vulnerable. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are to blame for their roles in maintaining status quo in Washington, nurturing inertia and bending to the will of their billionaire and millionaire donors which is the sole reason for public disillusionment in America. The rise of the likes of Donald Trump is directly linked with the failure of mainstream political parties in meeting the expectations of its people in any countries.

America clearly needs a strong third party to reverse the course of corruption and inaction in Washington DC, to curb the degeneration of American mind, and make democracy work for all hard working Americans, not just a bunch of billionaires and millionaires. Unfortunately, Americans are doomed to make do with the two parties with completely different visions of America. American innovative mind is being poisoned politically by these parties which just vie to capture the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.

Many people agree Trump is a symptom, not the disease. The Republican Party’s silence on Trump’s autocratic ambitions is/was unnerving and unbecoming. They remained tightlipped while Trump was dismantling democratic norms, values and institutions. It’s sad to note that seventy four million Americans have just taken democracy for granted. They have no idea how big a deal it is to have a functional democracy where rule of law pervades. This is a stark reminder of some American’s frivolity about democracy. Trump has exposed the Republican Party and unmasked its leaders.

Writing on the wall

Trump is unethical, disorganized and dishonest. Biden is a bore. Eighty million Americans preferred a bore (Biden) over a quixotic Trump as he ever blurred the line between policy and politics. American democracy was relegated to nepotocracy as he appointed his daughter and son-in-law and daughter as senior White House advisors. Many of his Republican allies had warned him that Joe Biden was a tough opponent to beat in the election. He never made any sincere efforts for course corrections nor did he ever admit fault. Veteran journalist Bob Woodward, who interviewed him on seventeen different occasions (between  2019 and 2020) on the record, notes in the ultimate sentence of his book Rage: “When his performance as president is taken in its entirety, I can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

With a clearly diminished global leadership status after a failed coronavirus pandemic response, thinkers and critics around the globe are wondering if America, diplomacy and multilateralism are back again as claimed by President-elect Joe Biden and his would be UN Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield. It’s tall order for the President-elect Joe Biden or any other future presidents to bridge the chasm of division let alone restore the soul of the nation. It’s good that he has committed to listening to and ameliorating the lives of the rural Americans who have been forgotten and left behind. The Democratic Party has failed them for long. They blow up billions in TV, radio and social media advertisements in every election cycle targeting the unknown and unreliable voters in the urban, suburban and exurban areas most of whom don’t bother to turn up on election day. Their Republican counterparts, on the other hand, are more effective in reaching out to and connecting with real voters in the rural areas who turn out on the Election Day and deliver them victory. A bird in hand is more worth two in the bush.

The Republican Party has renounced all its conservative credentials in defending Trump, who is one of the most untrustworthy, unethical, immoral persons in American history, as its leader. Conservatism in its purest form is now in America. Long live conservatism because a conservative party is a pre-requisite to hold progressive parties accountable and keep democracy vibrant! Sadly, the current Republican Party has been hijacked by obstructionist and regressive forces. The Republican Party has presided over a cataclysmic contraction of American mind under Trump.  ‘America First’ principle started the downward slide in the first place.

They did not do enough to convince him to not renounce global leadership. They are indebted to him for delivering them a short-term objective of presidency and keeping the Democrats from the White House. It will take them hundred years to clean up the mess created by Trump’s xenophobia and hatred. They have no clue how Trump has mucked up American mind.

Bad legacy  

Trumps’ legacies and their repercussions to democratic institutions will be revealed at long last. Although Trump is not a complex personality and an enigmatic figure, his presidency produced the most noise in the media and inspired a whole lot of books. The master manipulator-in-chief turned many Americans self-centric, myopic and nostalgic (when white populace far outnumbered people of color and immigrants).The globe-trotting Americans got disillusioned about America’s abject failure in basic duty such as protecting its citizens’ health. American scientists and experts led their peers in Thailand and South Korea—the countries far more successful in managing the pandemic, according to a New York Times report— in hunting bat caves to catch the coronavirus. But America itself was caught flat-footed.  

Most American writers started writing on subjects and issues that were no longer intelligible to the global audience. They wrote about white supremacy, white grievances, and systemic racism. To some, Trump presidency was the golden period for the publishing industry in America. A record number of books became New York Times best sellers. They were all about Trump’s eccentricities, vices and erratic behavior. Many books portray a dysfunctional and chaotic White House and DNA of dishonesty that runs through the blood of Donald Trump.

Political material is prosaic. Trump presidency caused a vast amount of prosaic literature surpassing any other presidency in the history of America. Hence, he turned American writers, columnists and commentators and their readers prosaic and dull. Most poets and artists found it difficult to explore global themes and struggled to sustain their constituents. Trumpism was the default theme and Trumpology was the default diction. Eveyththing else was secondary and expendable.

 Americans got hoodwinked to reading about Trump because he was ubiquitous in most books, commentaries and media contents. He enjoyed his omnipresence on TVs, radios, social media, books and what not. He did not care if it was constructive or destructive. He sensationalized his presidency through his Twitter account.  

A rising tide lifts all yachts. Forget others, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, authored Triggered, filled with maxims of conservative vitriolic invective against the liberal thinkers and leaders. It also briefly topped the NYT bestseller list of November 2019—thanks to a bulk order (in the amount of $ 94, 800) by Republican National Committee to be distributed as mementos to its donors.     

On a good note, some serious books have begun to appear to the consternation of Trump on the waning days of his presidency.  The frenzy of Trump literature has died down. The first volume of Barack Obama’s presidential memoir A Promised Land, released on November 17, 2020 is reported to have broken records by selling 1.7 million copies in the very first week of its publication in addition to topping NYT best sellers chart under non-fiction audio and hardcover categories combined.

When Obama was busy with his creative project and writing this book, his successor (Trump) was denouncing him and undoing his legacies. Ironically, Trump lost to Obama’s vice president-Joe Biden. Obama is again at the front and the center in the American imagination as Trump fades quickly. Trump’s days of glory are numbered. He is gearing up for a imminent legal jeopardy as he faces dire legal consequences upon exiting the White House on January 20, 2021 when Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

Nobody would be surprised if Trump ended up behind bars sooner or later owing to his massive tax avoidance and evasion scandals as reported by investigative reporters. This is called karma. What you sow, so you reap.  I suspect the MAGA-ites will go berserk upon potential prosecution, indictment and charging of Trump when he is proven guilty. American democracy and rule of law will succumb to death instantly if the Biden administration can’t handle Trump’s armed vigilantes’ protesting against his charging calling it a hoax because this is the only word they have heard from their ring leader in the last four years.  

Things are getting so weird that some close confidantes of Trump are said to be seeking a preemptive presidential pardon from Trump before his departure from the White House to avoid any future prosecution. What’s more, most of his conservative media enablers have suggested that he pardon his family members and himself. What could be more pathetic than that? Trump has already made America unrecognizable. This is the very guy who promised to drain the Washington swamp. Ironically, he expanded it and he himself seems to be sucked in it. 

I am relieved that the libraries and bookshops won’t see the deluge of books on Trump. More books will deal with ideas and innovations and serve as a window to the world. As a result, Americans will start listening to each other, seeing each other, reaching out and connecting with beautiful cultures, people and countries beyond America once again. American ingenuity works best when it is connected with the world. American imagination and mind are made to wander far and wide and work wonders, to not be confined and confounded.


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