27

Nov

Thank God for Democracy | A peek into the Trump presidency and a way forward.


Thank God for Democracy | A peek into the Trump presidency and a way forward.

Thank God for Democracy | A peek into the Trump presidency and a way forward. Loading

I take a peek into the Trump presidency and try to answer some burning questions as to why the big divisions of the US population. I also add some amusing anecdotes with images.

Today, we can sleep well knowing that the western democracy has stood the test of time and prevailed. We have learnt from our past mistakes in history to curb the likes of dictators whose only mission in life is to fulfill their own agenda and not the people it represents.

We clearly saw this in the recent US election of 2020 between President Donald Trump and the new President elect Joe Biden. It was an ugly few weeks where the presiding president Trump refused to concede despite overwhelming evidence of no voter fraud which he claimed and perpetrated. The people had voted in a new President for the next four years and yet Trump continued to stoke support amongst his supporters that there was widespread voter fraud. Since that ugly point in time there were all kinds of speculation that anything could happen until the January 2021 inauguration.

Fortunately for all of us today, we can take a sigh of relief to know that Trump finally has admitted defeat. Trump has not made any concession speeches like all the US presidents before him and he is unlikely to do so. The huge democratic infrastructure that exists to uphold the fabric of democracy for the people it represents has finally won through. The General Services Administration of the US which procures the transition work to the new elect President has been given the green light. We heard from Biden that the transition was going to go ahead smoothly and he held a public meeting to announce the newly elected cabinet members of his party.

Many other nations that we see around the world claims to have democracy at it’s core but we have all heard of bloody stories where the current leader holds on to power through illicit force. This is often done with the aid of the military where they can use their power to thwart any democratic uprising. As you can imagine, this can become a near impossibility in countries like the US and many other Western nations. The distribution and handling of power has been dispersed into what we call the United States Congress where we have the two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives. All legislative matters such as ‘to enact legislation and declare war, the right to confirm or reject many Presidential appointments, and substantial investigative powers’. You can read more about the Congress from the link below.

The US Legislative Branch

If the system was not setup this way, who knows what Trump could have achieved with the election results. Still, not admitting defeat, he stubbornly continues to assert his right to fight the election results even after he is gone from office.

The recent events of the elections and the public reactions made me think hard of how the US came to be where it is. Why is there a persistence view held by people that they should side up with one party over another without any common dialogue? How can a nation of people be so fully enamored by a single individual and unequivocally hold onto beliefs even if they were clearly proven to be wrong? At the very least find out the truths yourself and have a proper dialogue to dig into the facts and truths.

I have my personal opinions as to why some groups decide to operate in this manner. We can take some snippets of history from the past and build a better picture of how people behave the way they behave. To be persuasive and manipulative towards factions of groups, you first need to target those people with your own hidden agenda. Something that people hold dear to their heart and will stand up and listen to you, something that rings true with the people you are targeting. For example, the religious movement is a good example of this where advocators can propel and instill beliefs in people that hold a special meaning to them. This would be the first stage of getting the people to look up to them. As time passes, the leader can spread more of their thinking based on half-truths, and a vision of the future that brings them closer to him or her. The ‘polarization’ that we have witnessed in the recent election results are a result of further fueling the propagandistic viewpoints of this manipulative leaders.

Since many have already joined the faction which has grown to huge proportions, the actions of followers will always be to unequivocally support their leaders. The ‘boring’ facts related to any events that their leader is targeting is left to his ministers and of no real consequence to the followers. This leads to more hostility and isolation as can be clearly seen by the followers hostile behavior and reactions to anything that is indifferent to their leader.

You will remember the last US election of 2016 where Hilary Clinton in a single stroke paved the way for Trump presidency where she termed the other ‘party’ as deplorables. This kind of rhetoric only fuel to the fire to the opposite base because it is a punishing statement to the people you will represent. It is a clear example of a precarious situation when leaders are chosen for their ability to keep cool in the thick of chaos.

I was almost certain that after the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden, Biden could potentially lose in the upcoming election. This was due to the nature of Biden’s response which at times were frustrating and not leader like. Meanwhile Trump, the aggressor, almost succeeded in provoking Biden to prove his unworthiness as leader of the country. However, the main crux of the conversation went in Biden’s favor and Biden had little to do in the second debate except hold his poise which he did well in order to secure victory in the upcoming election. You can read my verdict in the link below.

My verdict on the outcome of the US 2020 election.

It was really embarrassing to see Trump toy and jest with his fanbase of followers after the election, see Fig. 1.

trump jesting
Fig. 1. Trump toying with his base after defeat.

It was pathetic for me to see such a scene but it does explain my theory that when you do have a following, they will pretty much do whatever you expect of them. Unfortunately, sensibilities do not come into the equation and it can explain the tremendous powers past leaders have wielded to create massive movements. The pattern that I see here, is that people simply do not believe or want to hear anything that is negative regarding their leader. This ‘God’ syndrome’ complex which exists in leaders makes them amass followers that follow them without question. The followers in actual fact believe their leader to be god like.

Followers of this kind will inevitably believe anything that their leaders tells them without any factual checks. Part of the reason why Trump failed in this election was that he could not prevail over the ‘other party’ that refuses to ignore the hard facts behind the COVID-19 virus pandemic. His user base was in tune with Trump’s own thinking about the virus, nothing more than a flu will run it’s course and go away soon. The virus was pretty black and white for some of the other people who clearly saw their loved ones die from the disease. Although to date, the US had 266,000 deaths from the virus, it would make sense that the relatives or friends will come to know about the hard truths of this virus.

If we were to do a simple calculation of the number of deaths and the propagation of this news stemming from the actual deaths, we can get an idea of how many people in the wider population would come to know the death as anything but real. Fig. 2 shows the diagram that I developed in order to make this calculation.

degrees of layers
Fig. 2 If there are six layers of separation, we can work out the number of people who do not believe that COVID-19 is a conspiracy theory.

We can assume that 55 million of the voting population were convinced of the corona virus pandemic and the remainder of the population dismissed it or assumed an underlying conspiracy theory behind the whole pandemic. I recently saw a tv documentary where the BBC had sent someone to the rustic belts of the USA where there were a predominant number of Trump supporters. In one part of the video, a Trump supporter was asked about the coronavirus and the person completely dismissed it as a hoax. Remember, this thinking was propagated by Trump at the beginning of the pandemic and had misgivings about the virus as this would affect the economy and his reelection. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic was his biggest downfall. Had he accepted the issue with a genuine intention of handling the virus, he may very well have won the election for a second term. He mistakenly made the mistake of just rallying to his base and ignoring the ‘other half’, who had woken up to the real facts of the pandemic which was falling on deaf ears.

I am not sure if Trump realized that handling the virus as best as you could and with open transparency was a sign of good leadership. Unfortunately, his head was too stuck on the booming economy prior to the pandemic and anything that derailed this was considered an irritant. It is a again a sign of human flaws in leaders that can bring about their downfall since they are fixated in keeping hold of power and not doing the honorable thing. However, for Trump to achieve what he did in the election and to garner such a large chunk of voters shows that we have a remarkable changing society that is not based on prepositions of the past.

Trump needed to do bipartisan work to resolve the crisis but he chose to work in isolation which tipped the balance in favor of the democrats. It is worthy to note that Trump’s original message to play to his only fan base continued to work throughout the pandemic. He provided all types of counter arguments of what this ‘hoax’ was, something contrived by the democrats and China. The blame game and his adverse tones towards shutting down the economy only fueled his fan base. Meanwhile, the dying population through the pandemic hit many people as shown in Fig. 2 and they were not going to be perturbed by the false and deflective narrative of the President. These were voters that were now flocking to the Biden camp.

All the way up to the election, the polls clearly showed Biden edging ahead by many points with some national polls showing double digit lead. There was hesitancy by many a people from the democratic camp that the repeat of the 2016 election will be a stark reminder of what can actually happen during the election. They needed to plug on and Biden of all people knew this to be true. What appeared to be a landslide victory for Biden did not materialize in the actual election results. The question becomes how can the public’s opinion and the true events of the election get it so wrong? One democrat explained this as the Republicans who chooses to vote Trump will always lie to the public. Certainly the media became a central kingpin as the pandemic unfolded as well as the social platforms. Many would blame those platforms for the rise of ‘disinformation’ and what would eventually reach the public. Unfortunately, they are a consequence of how the general population positioned themselves with their leaders and not the cause of the misinformation’. When you take sides in a leadership, you lean on one or the other side and whatever arguments you make will be elevated or quipped into nothingness depending on which party is viewing your titbits. This turns the entire base of political shenanigans directly on it’s head since there are no common ground. It is futile to preach to the choir.

In my opinion, as long as we have opposing political parties in place, the country will always remain divided. However, it is a double edged sword since one party needs to counter the other party to bring everything into balance. How can there be order from chaos, fairness from hardships, liberty for all people and so on if we did not rely on such a system. Who is to say that the system is not fully optimized but an evolution of changes brought about by the great minds of the past. For example the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and other notable figures of the past who gave us remarkable thoughts to ponder and put into practice.

The notable divisions of the types of social reforms that we have seen in the past ie. communism, capitalism, socialism etc. implies that we need to somehow conform to one group or another. Unfortunately, this was not the intention by these great philosophers of the past, whose theories were aired to fix the irregularities of social life and behavior with the ideas that everyone can move towards a more utopian society.

Why do people have to believe and lean towards such populist theories of governing people? why can’t they just think for themselves and pick out the best of the crop. Why do they need to belong to a particular governing body? It is very possible that many people just do not want to take on the headache of philosophizing a way of life since many feel they are compelled to live in a society and accept it for what it is. They are a cog in a society that is beyond their control and all they want is to live a life that is simple and easy. Unfortunately, they are the last people you would want to seek knowledge regarding social reforms, this is left leaders and radical thinkers that can challenge the status quo. It makes perfect sense why they would stick by their leaders and assume them to be infallible. Common sense, fact checking, proper judgement is left to the opposing party and understood to be an evil necessity of social justice. When you have a massive audience base like Trump’s, you just need to keep fueling the fan base and make them loyal to your own agenda. Truth, matter of fact, anything akin to the present situation becomes secondary and will be buried under a pile of conspiracy theories.

Throughout history, people have lived under dictatorial leaderships and their only purpose is to usurp power as long as they can. If the fanbase is dwindling, the leaders choose to create conspiracies and promote misinformation or quell the opposing side. Check out the summary of fascism that is explained by wikipedia in the section below.

In 2003, Dr. Lawrence Britt wrote “14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism”:[9]

  1. Nationalism: saying one’s own country is better than other countries
  2. Disdain for human rights
  3. Scapegoating: blaming someone else for the country’s problems
  4. Putting the military first
  5. Sexism: saying men are better than women
  6. Control of mass media: telling newspapers and other sources of news what they can and cannot tell the people
  7. Focus on national security
  8. Close ties between religion and government
  9. Protection of businesses and corporations
  10. Suppression of labor power: preventing labor unions from becoming powerful
  11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts: telling people not to listen to scientists, scholars and artists
  12. Focus on crime and crimefighting
  13. Corruption
  14. Fraudulent elections: Even if the people vote, the votes are either not counted or otherwise abused. In some fascist governments, leaders will have their opponents killed.[9]

Can you see how many of these points apply to Donald Trump, you would almost think that this was his playbook for his term in the last 4 years! Let me go through each one and provide examples of each to give more weight to the points.

  1. Nationalism: saying one’s own country is better than other countries.
    • How many times have you heard Trump that America is the greatest country in the world?
  2. Disdain for human rights
    • I think you will agree that Trump’s record on immigration and the recent black lives matter riots have shown a man who is not tolerant of human rights.
  3. Scapegoating: blaming someone else for the country’s problems
    • This is an easy one. Just reflect back on Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus as he was quick to blame China and even named the virus as a ‘China’ virus. Also a barrage of blame for the previous president Barack Obama and vice president Joe Biden. Need I go on?
  4. Putting the military first
    • Trump did not come from any military background so his emphasis on this huge engine of power was less obvious. Had he had superlative powers over the military like Hitler and Mussolini, this would have been a very different matter. Fortunately for the diplomatic efforts of our forefathers, giving uncontrollable power to the military would be tantamount to a military regime. History has taught us well.
  5. Sexism: saying men are better than women
    • I think you have seen evidence of this on national TV, just look back at the interview with Megyn Kelly in 2016. There are numerous remarks made against women throughout his term.
  6. Control of mass media: telling newspapers and other sources of news what they can and cannot tell the people
    • You have surely seen Trump pointing to newspapers of what he considers as newsworthy and what is fake news, right?
  7. Focus on national security
    • Again, this boils down to some extent having a high degree of control over the military. Fortunately for us citizens, as explained in point 4 above, the President has minimum control over the military without the expressive consent of the House of Congress.
  8. Close ties between religion and government
    • This is surely a playbook for Trump since he is strongly affiliated with factions of groups that are predominantly religious or government based.
  9. Protection of businesses and corporations
    • We are pretty clear where Trump stands on these.
  10. Suppression of labor power: preventing labor unions from becoming powerful
    • Labor unions are now a diminishing return since capitalistic economy has paved the way for a huge wealth gap. There is little Trump has to do here since they have already been suppressed over the years. This further reveals the changing times where human rights to the individuals are further appeased by corporate lobbyist.
  11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts: telling people not to listen to scientists, scholars and artists
    • Speaking of a perfect playbook, Trump fits into this picture like a glove. Ignoring the scientists on the corona virus pandemic and criticizing an Asian nation for winning an Oscar, remember that? Let me enlighten you, just go to the article here.
  12. Focus on crime and crimefighting
    • Like many fascist thinkers of the past, Trump’s primary goal is to oppress any uprising and free speech. His actions on the black lives matter protests speaks volumes.
  13. Corruption
    • His lack of transparency when it comes to reveal his tax returns, his support for unscrupulous people during his term in office and the impeachment hearings of 2018.
  14. Fraudulent elections: Even if the people vote, the votes are either not counted or otherwise abused. In some fascist governments, leaders will have their opponents killed.
    • If all the previous points didn’t convince you, then maybe this last point will. Due to the nature of how the presidential system has been setup, the last point removing opponents is not a viable option for the President of a democratic nation.

It is amazing, how Trump manages to fit into this role extremely well and it is mainly down to the people who unequivocally support him.

We have all seen these far reaching divisions in society and it doesn’t look like it will be solved anytime soon. The question arises, what can we do to bring back normalcy within our social sphere or is this just going to get worse. Today, we live in a world that has become tiny due to the advances in technology, the internet and information available at our fingertips. In the past decades, have progressed towards a globalized world with countries shunting for a presence in the globalized economy. None more than China which has become an economical powerhouse with few countries that can hope to compete. As a country continues to advance, the appetite for energy, raw materials increases and as a result they seek out countries that can offer them advantage in this competitive global space. China has made inroads to Africa to gain access to important minerals as well as tap into a relatively huge open market.

Trump’s policy has been more towards nationalism, protectionism and a focus only on national interests rather than an interest at the global stage. You can see this from his departure from major international task forces such as climate control, peace treaty with Iran just to name a few. Although, the interests of the state of Israel is very much intact and I have drawn an amusing anecdote of this unwavering relationship (Fig. 3).

usa new map comp 2
Fig. 3 New USA Map

Some may mock this as profanity but you will agree that the historical facts speak for themselves where US has been a staunch supporter of Israel against all opposition by international countries. Check out the many of the past news of the US vetoes against UN resolutions with regards to Israel.

U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution denouncing violence against Palestinians

The 43 times US has used veto power against UN resolutions on Israel

List of United Nations resolutions concerning Israel

I won’t go into the politics of how this came into play, it requires a deep study of the historical facts dating back 70 years as well as the significance of Jewish history going back thousands of years.

I am still somewhat unsatisfied with any types of solutions in the way of the new President elect can bring to the table on such a divided nation. Despite Biden’s claim that we should put aside differences and work together to move ahead, we cannot ignore the fact that we have deeply polarized thinkers who refuses to accept the norm. What some consider as a deep abomination and abhorrence of a leader, others consider it as their savior. Fig. 4 is another amusing image that I put together when Trump decided to meet press on recent events. At one stage he was turned off by one remark by a journalist and snapped at him for talking like that to the President. He did finally agree that he would approve the transition to the newly elect Biden only when the voting results were made official. He did say that he would continue his fight over voter fraud. What a sore loser!

trump preaching to his audience v1
Fig. 4 Poking fun at Trump with this amusing image. Maybe he has finally found his real audience!

Although there is no obvious solution in site, I do have a way forward that embraces the advanced technologies we have available today. You can read more about this article below on a previous blog post where I term the word ‘centrism’.

The Dawn of a New Society – Blockchain & Artificial Intelligence



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