Joe Biden Jr. was on Wednesday inaugurated as the 46th President of United States (US) at a colourful ceremony at the Capitol Hill amid tight security, celebration and conviviality. Also, Kamala Harris was sworn-in as the 49th Vice President of the United States, the first woman in the history of America and the first black to attain that political height. The grand event was attended by many people including former presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush Jr. and Barack Obama.
Former President Jimmy Carter could not attend the ceremony on account of age but he spoke with Biden. While the immediate past Vice President Mike Pence was at the event, the outgoing President Donald Trump was absent. Both Biden and Harris promised to defend the constitution. Lady Gaga honoured Biden with her beautiful rendition of the American anthem. Jennifer Lopez also performed at the event.
Millions of people across the world watched the inauguration on global televisions. The occasion underlined the triumph of democracy and the resilience of US democratic institutions, which were able to withstand Trumpism and his weird ideology. Although the harm Trump’s presidency wrought on the system will take a very long time to undo, there is no doubt that Biden has started on a good note by calling for national reconciliation and healing.
That is why in his powerful inauguration speech, Biden promised he will be “A President for all Americans” and vowed that “we must end this uncivil war,” an allusion to the events that culminated in the ugly riots by misguided Americans at the Capitol Hill at the instigation of Donald Trump on January 6. Speaking in a reconciliatory tone, Biden enjoined that “politics does not have to be a raging fire.”
Biden is aware of the need to unite all Americans and the need for them to work together. According to him, unity “requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans.” With the inauguration, Biden believes that “democracy has prevailed.” Biden has signed so many executive orders to salvage America from the scourge of COVID-19 pandemic, address climate change, race and economy.
He has also assembled the best brains in the US to assist him and Harris in the onerous task ahead. With his many years of experience as a senator, vice president and others, I have every hope that the Biden/Harris team will remake America and bring it back to global reckoning. They will rebuild America and close all the cracks which Trump inflicted on the walls of US. They need to build bridges of friendship with other nations and reverse all obnoxious policies of Donald Trump.
In fact, Biden has a lot of work to do to bring America to its pre-Trump position in world affairs. He must reconnect America with its allies and reconcile relations with China and other nations that Trump disdained with his brand of politics and fiery rhetoric. Biden administration will improve relations with African nations which Trump lampooned with his incendiary and uncomplimentary comments.
There is no doubt that the emergence of Trump helped to expose the weaknesses of American democracy. It is a big puzzle that such a system many thought to be the best in the world could produce a person in the mould of Trump. Well, it is one of those ironies of life. At times what we do not envisage comes to us. It is one of the puzzles of fate. That notwithstanding, the coming of Trump on the US top political stage actually shows that the America’s recruitment system for the topmost job is not exactly the way people think it is.
It has revealed that the recruitment system needs some tinkering so that somebody like trump will not emerge on the scene again. If recruitment into ordinary jobs in the banks, schools and ministries will require some levels of experience, recruitment for a leader of a big country such as the US will require high level of experience, including political apprenticeship or whatever to show that the person is aware of the enormity of the tasks before him as the leader of God’s own country.
Trump’s four years of chaotic and unpredictable approach to leadership demonstrated that he was not adequately prepared for the position. His inexperience manifested in every step he takes and his fictional utterances and outbursts, especially after he lost the presidential election to Biden. His inability to concede defeat and allow for a smooth transition of power shows that he is unaware of the requirements of his position.
His unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud are ignoble and unprecedented in US history. Even after leaving office, Trump still deludes himself that he won the election, which many Americans know he lost. His absence at the inauguration of Biden, though not the first sitting president to do so, shows that he is a damn bad loser. He reminds us of many such bad losers in Africa and Asia where democracy is still in transition period. I shall return to this theme shortly.
The emergence of such a person in future will worsen the US democracy and make it a laughing stock of other nations. I do not think that America will allow somebody like Trump to win the US presidency again. It is to the glory of the US system that despite its inherent weaknesses, it was resilient enough to withstand the excesses of Donald Trump. Trump and what he represents will be a subject of many doctoral dissertations in future. What can African countries learn from what transpired in America between the period of the US election, the outcome, the attack on the Capitol Hill and the inauguration of Joe Biden?
There are a lot of lessons to be learnt by sit-tight African leaders and many of them with nepotistic tendencies and their blind supporters and praise singers. If what happened in America happens in a typical African country, the outcome will definitely be different. The incumbent president would have ordered the electoral body to annul the poll, detain his opponent. He can even alter the outcome and cause more trouble for the country so that he can stay in power. The rubber-stamp legislature will support him and truncate the will of the people. The docile judiciary will do his biddings and legalize the illegality.
Some politicians will reduce everything to religion and ethnicity. The politicians will speak from both sides of their mouth and do unpatriotic things for selfish reasons. Africa, Nigeria in particular must take note of what transpired in the US democracy and learn much to improve our democratic culture.
Ours is still far from the established tenets of democracy. It is still not yet the ideal. No democracy can endure without resilient democratic institutions. African countries must strive to make democratic institutions stronger. The era of strong men in politics is no longer in vogue. The era of sit-tight leaders in Africa should be over. Let us emulate the resilience of the American system so that democracy and the will of the people will prevail.