At a time coronavirus cases and hopitalisation are spinning out of control in America in a second wave with over 100,000 daily deaths, I’m still pinching myself to be sure I’m not having a bad dream over President Donald Trump’s continued intransigence to accept the outcome of the presidential elections which held on November 3. Trump lost the election and he should be a good sportsman and congratulate President-elect Joe Biden who got over the mandatory 270 electoral votes; he is also leading by over 5 million in the popular votes in the historic US election.
When Biden’s victory was announced, cheers, jubilation, celebration, joyful songs and dances erupted on the streets of America; a sign that a new mandate was in the offing to tackle the embarrassing coronavirus cases and crippling economic crisis. But President Trump’s current stance is taking away the joyful moments; America clearly deserves better than the political turmoil as the model of liberal democracy for the rest of the world. Former Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, says it does not matter whether Trump concedes victory or not, adding that what is important is that Joe Biden will be sworn in as the next US president when the current tenure expires on January 20, 2021
Since 1896, the norm has always been for concessions to be made when an outright winner emerges in the US presidential elections. For the first time, the peaceful and orderly transfer of power is being threatened in US history. Four years ago, it was Hillary’s Clinton’s turn to give a concession speech in a closely fought election with President Trump; even then, Clinton — who served as the 67th United States secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and as a United States senator from New York from 2001 to 2009 — beat Trump with more than 3 million popular votes but lost in the Electoral College.
Now, Trump is refusing to give a similar concession speech because he believes the Democrats “stole” the election without any shred of evidence. If Trump is thinking he can overturn the outcome of the election with his delay and vengeful tactics, then he is making a big mistake. It means Trump is living in a different world — an alternate reality that he created to view things upside down with his special kind of lens. It is simply inverted logic at work. Available evidence suggests that Joe Biden won the elections and come January 20 next year, he will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States along with Kamala Harris as the first female and black US vice president.
My advice to Trump is that he should lick his wounds privately and accept that he lost what was a free and fair election. Obviously, he is not happy but he will be a one-term president and, as usual, he believes he can charm his way through the crisis he has created but his weakened brand asset will disappoint him this time. Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud cannot hold water anywhere neither can it be substantiated as he continues to insist he is the winner of the election. How do you declare yourself a winner when mail-in ballots – the bone of contention by the Trump camp – have not been counted? It is not going to happen because Americans made their choice by voting for Biden and Kamala Harris.
But are we really surprised at President Trump’s behaviour? Right from Day One, Trump has been behaving badly. If he was not attacking the media, he engaged in race baiting by forcefully pushing hurting immigration reforms that did not make any sense. Trump also tried in vain to undo every of former President Barrack Obama’s achievements including repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) famously known as Obamacare – without a replacement plan — which would translate into millions of Americans losing their health insurance, benefits and protections, especially those with underlying medical conditions. What is it about ACA that the Republicans do not want? After a Supreme Court hearing a few days ago, it appears Obamacare may yet survive another stiff challenge posed by the Republicans – even with three Trump appointees in the Supreme Court — who are determined to kill it. Eight years ago, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare by ruling that the individual mandate which required people to either have a health insurance or pay a penalty was constitutional.
Trump does not believe in science and he pulled America out of the Paris Agreement which is a global response to the threat posed by climate change. He is friends with the world’s leading dictators: Russia’s Vladimir Putin; North Korea’s Kim Jong-un; Turkey’s Recep Erdogan and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. Trump’s “exceptionalism” and “isolationalism” in a globalised world did not help world trade as the constant face-off with China triggered trade tensions with stock markets responding accordingly like a ping pong game.
My view is that Trump knew the odds were stacked against him before the elections and the handwriting was clearly on the wall, especially if we take into account how his administration mismanaged the deadly coronavirus disease which Trump derisively refer to as “China virus” – it was his Achilles’ heel except President Trump is living in denial as usual. In a related context, how do we also explain to anyone why Trump decided to pull America out of the World Health Organisation (WHO) at the height of a global pandemic? It was a tragic move by Trump and it showed he cannot be a good chess player.
If it was to massage his ego of “America First” campaign, then our golf loving US president missed the point. From that point onwards, Trump’s presidency actually began to unravel – this was when the world needed America the most to provide funding to WHO. With all its advances and record breakthrough innovations in science and technology, Trump is hard put to explain why there are over 10 million coronavirus cases and over 240,000 deaths in America. As CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta puts it, the coronavirus situation in America is a “humanitarian disaster”.
Even though the polls leading to the presidential elections did not exactly hit the bull’s eye, a lot of observers are nonetheless surprised that the election was not a land slide victory for Joe Biden. The result showed how divided the country is; it was indeed a close race and the nail-biting moment that followed made everyone uneasy as the world awaited the winner of the election. Joe Biden emerged victorious and it is not too late for Trump to congratulate Biden and extend the customary invitation for him to come over to the White House. It is the right thing to do; every other thing is a reality show stunt and bluster by Trump. In trying to rally his base with his false claims, the US president is inviting right wing militias to cause trouble. The president of America cannot and should not be seen to be inciting violence and promoting confusion, but I’m confident that America’s strong democratic institutions and the rule of law will prevail at the end of the day.
The Republican establishments who are obviously trying very hard to push Trump over the edge of the cliff are hurting the American brand in the world. A damaged brand does not earn trust and respect, and it loses its lustre. In the last four years, the American brand has been thoroughly trashed by the Trump administration that would end on January 20, 2021. Trump is feeling frustrated and humiliated because he lost the election and he is behaving like a dictator and power monger. Dictators think they are superstars and play god; they always live in denial because they erroneously believe the world must revolve around them all the time. President Trump should be told in no unmistakable terms that in today’s highly globalised world, the ranks of dictators are diminishing and they do not reign for ever – in fact, they always end up badly, in much the same way military regimes are becoming unpopular.
Trump should not be a bad loser; he is now a huge threat to American democracy that is greatly admired around the world. He should listen to his wife Melania and his son in law, Jared Kushner; they have told that him that the game is up and it is time to move out of the White House. No amount of shadow boxing — which includes firing top officials at the Pentagon or asking government agencies not to co-operate with the Biden transition team and accept him as president-elect — will change what will become an inevitable outcome. By the way, President Trump should realise the whole world is watching. Senate Majority Leader and a Trump lackey, Mitch McConnell, is among those who are afraid of looking Trump in the eyes and telling him the bitter truth. He says it is well within Trump’s right to go to court and ask for votes to be re-counted in the key battle ground states, especially Pennsylvania. Of course Trump has headed to different courts but I have no doubt he would be further humiliated. Living in denial, blustering, puffing and ego tripping will not change the outcome of the presidential election.
In the meantime, Biden has hit the ground running even without statutory funding for the transition programme and he is forging ahead with his team as he lays the ground work to assume office after inauguration in January. He is calm and confident that all would be well. He announced to the world recently that President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge him as President-elect and allow for a smooth transition of power is an embarrassment which will not help his legacy. Biden has not only set up 13-man coronavirus task force as part of his deliberate strategy to contain the raging pandemic in America, he is also keen to move ahead with the Affordable Care Act which continues to defy all attempts by the Trump administration to set it aside. Biden has also just named Ron Klain, a long standing aide, as his Chief of Staff.
All eyes are now on Georgia where Biden beat Trump with more than 14,000 votes because of the senate run-off elections, not the full recount announced in the presidential race as it will not significantly change Biden’s victory. The run-off election on January 5 will determine which way the balance of power will swing – the Democrats need the two seats at stake to take control the US Senate after giving up four seats in the House of Representatives because of the strong suspicion that Democrats would defund police operations. Understandably, the Republicans are not challenging Trump because of the Georgia elections – they need him to use his brand power to their advantage but it is expected that the story will be different after the run-offs. Hopefully, they will tell Trump it is time to go.
Biden has continued to receive congratulations from world leaders in an extra-ordinary show of goodwill. It is evident he wants to heal a divided country and reset the working relationships and partnerships with US allies. Messages have come from Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, France and Nigeria. Surprise, surprise, Israel has also sent in a congratulatory message but China is side stepping Biden’s victory, at least for now. Expectedly, Russia, Brazil and Turkey are quiet over the result of the election. Biden says he will be the president of the United States of America, not blue or red states — and I believe him.
In spite of Trump being Trump, America remains God’s gift to the world. It is a favourite destination for immigrants, tourists, business travellers and global conferences. As we look forward to a fresh start in America under a Biden presidency with over 77 million votes (and still counting) to validate his victory, the world expects to see social and racial justice and not systemic racism; both Democrats and Republicans must not put self above the country and the rule of law should be allowed to prevail at all times. When these things and many others take root, America may yet regain its lost glory as the shinning star in the political firmament of a free and liberalised world.
- Braimah is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Naija Times (https://naijatimes.ng)