By Emma Emeozor
Today, Americans and indeed the global community will say goodbye to Donald Trump, the 45th president of the world’s most powerful nation. Trump is departing the White House embattled and ‘unceremoniously.’ He will not be treated to the conventional Pentagon parade accorded presidents exiting the White House after the expiration of their tenure. This is one of the fallout of the attack on the United States Congress
by the President’s armed supporters who had wanted to wreck the country’s democratic culture by forcing the Congress to upend the result of the Electoral College poll which gave President Joe Biden victory in the 2020 presidential poll.
And as Trump bows out with ignominy, it is of note how history repeats itself in the process of the evolution of humanity.
An assessment of Trump’s presidency and his inglorious exit immediately brings to fore the sad tale of one of the greatest rulers in the Holy Bible -King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon from 605 to 562 BC. It would seem Trump is the reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar.
A great ruler, Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon with passion, never willing to compromise his desire to make it the world’s most powerful nation. He cared less whose horse was gouged once he believes his action was in the best interest of Babylon. His mission was to conquer the rest of the world.
A braggart, Nebuchadnezzar was obsessed with power. He was blind to the transient nature of power and believed he was ordained to rule forever. Confident that he was in full control of the machineries of government, he traversed the kingdom with bravado just as he was tempted to see Babylon as his private estate. Thus, when the clock started ticking for him, he could not read the handwritings on the wall, warning him about his imminent fall from grace to grass.
Like Nebuchadnezzar, Trump saw the warning signs but he was confident that the Democrats do not have the pep to uproot him from his ‘beloved’ White House. But Biden became his nemesis as he allowed pride and arrogance to rule him in the face of a stormy political contest.
Apparently, Trump chose to rely on the support of an ill-mannered white supremacist extremists and a disoriented Republican Party, to secure another term in office. Trump erroneously believes that everyday is the same. Put differently, he believed that the America that voted for him in 2016 was still the same in 2020.
But the game of politics is dynamic. Undoubtedly, Trump failed to understand that being successful in the business was not a guarantee of success in the murky waters of politics.
And besides his use of bully tactics to achieve his desires, Trump strongly believe in the aphorism that says ‘Never say Die,’ until a fight is over. This, he demonstrated till his supporters attacked the Congress. Of course, this thinking partially explains his failure to act appropriately when the lights started dimming for him.
The die was cast when he failed to acknowledge the deadly threat of COVID-19. While the Americans were dying and experts were calling for prompt action to save lives, Trump chose to make a mockery of the situation.
It was too late when he made a U-turn to rise to the challenge. Even some of his supporters had concluded that he was not the president they truly need and he must be thrown out of the White House.
But what could have made Trump to strongly believe that America will rally behind him against the Democrats and particularly, Biden? Having escaped the hammer over a “two-year investigation into Russian election meddling by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, or the seemingly endless series of other accusations of corruption and misconduct that have plagued this White House: tax evasion, profiting from the presidency, payoffs to a pornographic film actress and fraudulent activities by his charitable foundation,” he was emboldened to continue with his ‘I don’t care style of governance.”
Even after he was impeached in December 2019, Trump remained abrasive and boastful to the chagrin of the opposition and right thinking Americans. Today, he goes down in history as the first American president to be impeached twice and within a period of
two months. Interestingly, his second impeachment occurred days to his exit of the White House.
While he hit the corridors of power like a thunderbolt he was swept away by a whirlwind. Trump’s story is that of a scuttled dream of a man who strived to no avail be installed in America’s Hall of Fame. The list of Trumps misrule during the four years he was in office cannot be exhausted here. Suffice
to mention the following: His first impeachment followed a half-hour call he made to the president of Ukraine in July 2019.
“On it, he pressured Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats at the same time he was withholding nearly $400 million in vital military assistance for the country and a White House meeting.”
Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the Intelligence Committee chairman, who led the impeachment inquiry, said: “Over the course of the last three months, we have found incontrovertible evidence that President Trump abused his power by pressuring the newly elected president of Ukraine to announce an investigation into President Trump’s political rival” adding that “The president and his men plot on. The danger persists. The risk is real. Our democracy is at peril.”
Trump in his reaction had berated the Democrats. He said in a tweet: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN AS- SAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”
He would later say: “I’m not worried. You don’t do anything wrong and you get impeached. That may be a record that will last forever.” “But you know what they have done?” “They have cheapened the impeachment process.” He was confident that the Senators “are going to do the right thing.” The Re- publican dominated Senate acquitted him and saved the day for him. His supporters attack on the Congress led to his second impeachment.
The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi in her reaction described Trump as “deranged” and summarised the situation thus: “Sadly, the person who’s running the executive branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous President of the United States, and only a number of days until we can be protected from him,” adding: “And he has done something so serious that there should be prosecution against him.”
Her verdict: “This president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that.” The Speaker argued that “What happened was a terrible, terrible violation of the Capitol, of the first branch of government, the legislative branch, by the President of the United States.” She accused two thirds
of the Republican caucus in the House of being the “enablers of the president’s behaviour.”
Again, in his reaction, Trump was arrogant. He said: “I want no violence.” “This impeachment is causing tremendous anger and they’re doing it, and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.” He dismissed as ridiculous the House efforts to impeach him. Interestingly, no fewer than ten Republicans in the House endorsed the President’s impeachment notice.
Trump swept Americans, particularly the conservatives and the extremist youth off the ground with his “Make America Great Again” mantra, propagating a Nationalist ideology that would return jobs and other ‘goodies’ taken over by immigrants to the whites.
With time “Make America Great Again” became a mantra for instigating racism, protection- ism and promoting the ideals of America’s white supremacist extremism. Trump and his supporters did not hesitate to tamper with America’s age long ideals of egalitarianism and home to the oppressed or vulnerable class. Draconian immigration laws were introduced, targeting Africans, Latinos and a section of Asians. The administration of Trump embarked on building a border wall between the US and Mexico to prevent Latin American immigrants from entering the country. The conditions for granting citizenship to immigrants became tightened.
During the first two years of Trump presidency, there were increases in jobs and it was reported that the country’s poverty rate was reducing. But CNN report last week said “Nearly 8 million more Americans have joined the ranks of the poor since June, according to researchers from the University of Chicago and University of Notre Dame.
“The poverty rate jumped to 11.7% in November, up from 9.3% in June. That’s nearly double the largest annual increase in poverty since the 1960s. The rise in the poverty rate has most dramatically increased among Black Americans, the research indicates. The President’s only major legislative victory was signing new, sweeping tax cuts into law.”
He withdrew America from several international treaties to the surprise of the international community. They include: the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights with Iran. the Optional Protocol to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, United Nations Human Rights Council and Paris Climate Agreement. Trump in his knack
for controversies, once went berserk and told the world that his predecessor, Barack Obama was not born in the United States. He was tacitly saying Obama was not an American and therefore not qualified to be the country’s president. But after a period of rigmarole, Trump retracted his claims and said Obama was an American.
But he was not yet done with Obama. Trump was unenthusiastic with anything associated with Obama. He either dismantled or rolled back Obama’s programmes while in government. They include the racial segregation in suburban housing programme, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme and the Iran nuclear deal.
For many foreign affairs watchers, it is difficult to make sense of Trump’s foreign policy. It would seem his personal interest override the national interest in matters of foreign relations. He showed deep interest in forging relations with North Korea and Israel while he hit hard at Iran, for example. In the case of Israel, he moved the Embassy of US from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem even as the Palestinians and their allies protest. At the time he was leaving office, Trump had changed the face of the Middle East with Israel enjoying improved relationship with a number of Arab states. Also, he promoted a robust relationship with Saudi Arabia even after it was proved beyond any reasonable doubt that a Saudi Arabian dissident, author, columnist for The Washington Post, and a General Manager and editor-in- chief of Al-Arab News, Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was killed by government- sponsored assassins inside the Embassy of Saudi in Turkey.
Though Trump may be a villain in the eyes of his opponents and critics, he will remain a political force to reckon with for a long time. Indeed, Americans and the international community will not forget his “Make America Great Again” mantra so soon.
Guided by his “America First” policy, he infused in the citizens a new nationalist fervor which gave them a new sense of pride. Trump worked hard to address the issue of what he described as unfair trade agreements and the adverse effect of globalisation.
An analyst aptly observed that ”unfair trade agreements and globalisation had caused much damage to the US economy and,
as a consequence, Americans struggled with wage stagnation and a rising cost of living. He was not far from the truth: American foreign policy has been in dire straits for quite a few decades.