Quote: A native American elder once described his inner struggles. “There is a good dog and bad dog inside me. The bad dog fights the good dog all the time. The dog that wins is the one I feed the most.” (George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950; quote listed on numerous sites, search ongoing for original source).
In the news: Obama: Trump’s call for indictment was absurd (Anderson Cooper, CNN 10.13.20).
In context: US election 2020 is a clear choice between the good in America and the mean part that clings to the privilege of flexing its muscle just because it can. Power for the sake of power is on the ballot. The unhealthy attitude is a vestige of the past that died with the Second World War and its atom bomb. capable of destroying the world. As long as self-destruction is off the table, the world will improve, however rocky the road or contentious the argument about issues. That future is not so certain under Donald Trump.
Trump’s response to the Covid pandemic and his attitude toward it was the clearest demonstration of the threat he poses to a globalizing world. A shallow showman, he took no part in management. He commanded others to do the work. When results were slow under the chaos of conflicting directives, he cast blame with a vitriol that escalated conflicts. As teh US election 2020 neared, the show of exercising power for the sake of power reverberated throughout the world. So did resistance.
US election 2020 will go down in history as the global civil war. With the Biden/Harris ticket opposing Trump/Pence, the issue at stake surpasses America’s racial divide. Power-mongering is on the ballot in the US election 2020. On the other side is the spirit of rationality, meaning that the right person at the right time solves problems instead of making them worse.
America chose the right person in 2008. It is doing it again in the US election 2020 to bring the country back into alignment with a globalizing world thrown off track by Trump even before the Covid pandemic hit.
America broke a global glass ceiling when it elected Barack Obama as the first non-White head of a western industrialized country. The win was cataclysmic. Even United Nations global citizens doubted that America was ready for a non-White President.
The concept of a Black family in the White House took some acclimating in both America and the world but in different ways. The world saw America as reassuringly progressive. Diverse America was split. Some rejoiced in a wistful hope astoundingly fulfilled. Others were shocked, dismayed and belligerent. Although American by birth, the exotic Obama invited attack from all sides. The steadiness of his integrity won the day in a time of economic crisis when the old order wasn’t working.
In a way, the 2008 US election was a brand new American revolution that rivaled the first, which had liberated the new nation from its European parent. In 2008, robust America broke free of chains that held it back. It was the next chapter in a campaign that pioneering America had started with the bitter Civil War that managed to shatter an age old global practice of slavery by exposing it as a barbarity. The 2008 US election decimated all doubts about human equality based on race.
Acceptance of that proof was far from universal and Conservative backlash to the monumental step forward was inevitable. Obama rode the waves of resistance to his proposals without complaint, showing no rancor when his heroic rescue of a failing economy was swallowed by an avalanche of uproars about other progressive measures he instituted, , from social justice to environmental protection. Eight years later, however, the backlash reached its pinnacle with Donald Trump.
Over time, history will unravel the strands of the powers that got Trump elected as President of the United States. His four years in Office, though, have already proved out the global dynamics at work.
Trump was the epitome of the global status quo, the quintessential empire builder with a colonialist bent. He possessed all the aggressively predatory traits that had led up to western industrialized dominance throughout the world. With the American twist of freedom and license to exercise opportunism, Trump caught a modern globalizing world off balance.
In all its modern tyrannical forms, the Trump approach to governing by the status quo paradigm was as outdated as Rudyard Kipling’s White Man’s Burden. Written by a Brit 120 years ago, it urged America to “tame” the wild Philippine savages and to expect no thanks in return for the sacrifice made in leaving luxury for the sake of glory among peers.
Two World Wars have occurred since that poem was written in 1899. Since those wars, former colonies have been working with ex-colonialists to overcome history and enter the global mainstream united by technology.
Also uniting the world in the 2020 US election year was the global Covid pandemic, a viral savage refusing to be tamed by either arms or decree. Global cooperation to pool experience, knowledge and effort would seem the logical response. US President Trump in the status quo mode with the American twist apparently hit a short-circuit.
Two major lessons were learned by America throughout its history and by the world from the European colonialist period. One was that people don’t like to be enslaved. They don’t even like being put down or dismissed. Step on them long enough and they rebel. The second lesson learned from history was that failure to connect between leader and those to be led was a guarantee of chaos. The Trump response to the Covid pandemic demonstrate that he had learned neither of those lessons.
The Trump response to Covid encapsulated the entirity of Trump’s public life. He was a neocolonialist aggressively in search of new territory to conquer, bulldozing through opposition with the aid of those already spellbound by promises. When Covid hit, he outsourced responsibility and heaped blame for shortfalls to his directive that the pandemic just be made to go away.
Trump won the US Presidency in 2016 by conflating American freedom with tyrannical methods overlaid by a veneer of theatrical pizzazz that Americans love. A constant sprinkling of insult to decency finished off the formula for ensnaring a good part of the American minority. Covid has exposed his insufficiency in exercising the mighty power of his Office, even short of abusing them
Donald Trump was an anomaly not only in the United States but as a head of state in any of the world’s near-200 countries navigating a globalizing world. Pioneering America gave him a shot. Under Covid, America can’t wait to get back to the progress Obama represented.