Last week, we discussed the concept of strongmen anchored on the approximation of particular institution to the name of a person in authority. We further compared the strong institutions of America as against Donald Trump, the strongman. We came to a conclusion that America’s democracy would have been frail and fragile as other weak democracies across the world in the absence of these strong institutions. Today, we shall continue our discourse.
How Trump could not be saved by his litany of lies
Trump’s false statements while in office has come to be regarded as the “tsunami of untruths”. From a simple lie regarding the “rain”, to a costly lie regarding the “coronavirus”, Trump’s presidential tenure was riddled with lies, lies and more lies. The Facts Checker column of The Guardian online states that Trump expressed nearly 20,000 lies and misleading claims while he was in office. In the past 14 months alone, he averaged 23 false or misleading claims per day! For a narcisstic person, who lives in a mane-belief world of mirage and grandeur of delusion, Trump was a great democratic accident and mistake. He reduced the American presidency to one of Baba Salla’s Alawada Kerikeri histrionics and buffoonery. His exit is a relief and exhilaratic breath of fresh air to a bemused world that has been shell-shocked about the unnatural actions and inactions of Trump. Trump’s America was not the America the world knew. His brand of politics was not the one popularised by legendary Abraham Lincoln in his 19th November, 1863 Gettysburg Declaration. Here are some of his lies:
1. It didn’t rain on this inauguration: Trump kicked off his presidential tenure with a lie. At Trump’s inauguration, it rained heavily during his inaugural address. However, Trump felt the need to lie about the weather, stating at his celebratory ball, later that day, that the “rain never came” until he finished his speech and that after he had gone inside, it began to “pour”. As minute as this lie was, it was a warning to Americans of what was to come, as it opened the floodgate to several more lies.
2. The Boys Scout: Trump claimed that “the head of the Boy Scouts” had reached out to him, via a call, regarding his (Trump’s) address to the Scouts’ National Jamboree, stating that it was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them”. Usually, a lot of people did not like to be quoted publicly contradicting a vengeful president; however, the Boy Scouts did, stating that no call was ever made by them to President Trump.
3. The coronavirus is under control: This was by far Trump’s most dangerous lie. He had stated that the “virus was equivalent to the flu”; that the situation was “totally under control”; and, that the “virus was disappearing”. These were more like a “family of lies” than a single lie. However, each lie suggested and encouraged Americans to go about their daily lives without much change, which led to over 360,000 American deaths within a year. It is about 400,000 now. It is unclear how the crisis would have unfolded if Trump had been more truthful, however, it is also logical that a lot more lives would have been saved had the President been truthful from the start. Even when he was struck down for 3 days by the deadly pandemic, he still arrogantly refused to accept its existence. So sad.
4. Sharpiegate: On September 4, 2019, at his Oval Office, Trump displayed and referenced a map while talking to reporters about Hurricane Dorian. He later tweeted that Alabama was one of the states at greater risk from Hurricane Dorian; a statement which was disapproved by the Federal Weather Office in Birmingham, which tweeted that Alabama would be unaffected by the storm. Although a simple White House correction would have done it, Trump ignorantly maintained his stance, and embarked on “an increasingly farcical campaign” to prove his tweet was correct, eventually showcasing a hurricane map which had been crudely altered with a sharpie pen. The White House officials leaped into action behind the scenes and pressured federal weather experts into saying that Trump had been right and they, wrong. This goes to show that Trump was not a lone liar, but rather “backed by an entire powerful apparatus willing to fight for his fabrications”. His government was one of Strongmen, rather than Strong Institutions. Mercifully and providentially, strong institutions eventually triumphed and destroyed his strong-manism. He was tossed out of the White House like an unsung common villain. Can he catch any sleep now? I don’t know. Zuckerberg’s Twitter and Facebook that had thrown him out of his tweeting and lying world would not let us know.
Other lies include trying to get a Minnesota Democrat (IIhan Omar)’s supporters into believing that he had expressed support for the terrorist group known as Al Qaeda; replacing the Veterans Choice health care program (signed by Obama in 2014) with a more expansive program in 2018 and claiming that he got the Veterans Choice program passed; lying about being named Michigan’s Man of the Year.
The mother of lies is Trump’s blatant and brazen refusal to accept the US Presidential election results in which he was beaten blue and black by new President Joe Biden’s 81.2 million votes compared to Trump’s miserly 74.2 million votes, a margin of over 7 million votes. Notwithstanding his loss in all the courts he approached in America, up to the US Supreme Court, where he was roundly rejected, he still maintains, against all natural laws, that he “won” the presidency. He even attempted bribing the Georgian Secretary of State, Mr Brad Raffensperger, with “co-operate with me”; “we are the same Republicans”; “just ‘find’ 12,000 or more votes and I am President”. He was disgraced, denounced and rejected.
Many of these lies seem little. However, the bigger issue is that it raises concerns about the morality and integrity of a man willing to lie about things so negligible. The answer: Trump is simply a narcissistic man without honour, morals and integrity who would rather blindly lie about a lie, than offer a simple apology for a mistake. Such a man should never have been president. He was a mistake.
How Trump’s desperate court actions were trumped
Upon the announcement of the results of the United States of America (USA)’s 2020 Presidential elections, several actions were instituted by Trump and several of his supporters in an attempt to invalidate the election and the results achieved. These actions were instituted in different states and within different courts of those states. However, none succeeded. Some of the courts in which actions were initiated by and on behalf of trump, and same actions were dismissed, include
1. Wisconsin State Supreme Court
2. Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona;
3. Superior Court for the State of Arizona
4. Nevada Supreme Court
5. Fulton County Superior Court, Georgia;
6. Chatham County Superior Court, Georgia;
7. Michigan Supreme Court
8. Minnesota Supreme Court
9. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Atlanta;
10. U.S. District Court, New Mexico;
11. Pennsylvania Supreme Court
12. Texas Supreme Court
President Donald Trump and his allies have filed dozens of lawsuits across the country in an attempt to contest the election results.
Most of them have been shot down or withdrawn, and no court has found even a single instance of fraud. Of at least 57 cases to have been filed, including some not directly involving Trump but which could nonetheless affect his standing, at least 50 have been denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn.
Trump has aggressively ramped up his allegations of election fraud in the weeks since his projected loss, tweeting dozens of debunked theories. Despite the Electoral College vote this week certifying Biden’s victory, Trump has still not conceded.
President Donald Trump and his legal allies earned a platinum sombrero Friday, striking out five times in a matter of hours in states pivotal to the president’s push to overturn the election results — and losing a sixth in Minnesota for good measure.
It was another harsh milestone in a month long run of legal futility, accompanied by sharp rebukes from county, state and federal judges who continue to express shock at the Trump team’s effort to simply scrap the results of an election he lost. Several of the most devastating opinions, both Friday and in recent weeks, have come from conservative judges and, in some federal cases, Trump appointees.
The losses included a rejection in Wisconsin from the state Supreme Court, where the majority was gobsmacked at the effort by a conservative group to invalidate the entire election without any compelling evidence of voter fraud or misconduct.
“The relief being sought by the petitioners is the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen,” said Brian Hagedorn, a conservative elected justice, in a concurring opinion. “Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election. Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread.”
A Nevada judge issued a point-by-point rejection of every claim lodged by the Trump team, emphasizing that the facts they presented were sparse and unpersuasive. Carson City District Judge James Russell’s opinion repeatedly emphasized their case would not have succeeded “under any standard of proof.”
“There is no credible or reliable evidence that the 2020 General Election in Nevada was affected by fraud,” Russell wrote.
Several senior Republican U.S. senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have acknowledged Democrat Biden as the country’s president-elect after the Electoral College affirmed his victory, and have rejected the idea of overturning the 2020 presidential election in Congress.
Trump has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud and has tried but failed to overturn Biden’s victory, challenging the outcome in court in multiple states, while pressing state officials, lawmakers and governors to throw the results out and simply declare Trump the winner.
What lessons for Nigeria from Trump’s failed demagoguery
Even though what has happened in the United States in the last two months remains a sad spectacle, America still stands tall as a country and people, and focuses its minds to its democratic resilience embodied in the US democracy. They have successfully built democratically Strong Institutions over Strong Men, a trend which African leaders should religiously follow. It would simply be willful blindness if African leaders only see authoritarianism today, rather than the full display of the resilience and dedication to democracy on display.
Hereunder are the key factors to consider whether or not Nigeria as a country should borrow a leaf from the operation of the American democracy using the U.S. Election that held in November 3, 2020, and its aftermath as a pointer.
There was no central authority overseeing the US elections. National elections are broken down by 50 states and the District of Columbia. Elections within each state are run in turn by counties and by precincts within counties. People vote locally, in thousands of jurisdictions; ballots are tallied locally; and the results are reported locally, and then added up in the public eye.
(To be continued).