M. Burdbar Khan
How ironical it is that the very person who said, ‘You are fired!’ in every episode of the tv programme, ‘the apprentice’, had to listen to it from the same USA audience (voters). Not only that, those voters also put paid his enjoyable and enviable roller-coaster drive in the US political crossroads. Notwithstanding an improbable conviction following impeachment, his career seems all but over in the political arena of USA. His legacy, however, may haunt US politic and society in times to come. It would take Biden eons to undo many of the ‘achievements’ of the former US president Donald Trump.
In the lifetime of this writer, the era of the outgoing US president was unique and shocking in many ways. The word ‘grotesque’ and ‘spectacle’ came to life virtually during the presidency of Trump. Seldom a day went by without him playing a ‘prank’ or two on the beholders whilst indulging in his usual shenanigans. Whether it is the ‘China’ virus, or the use of ‘disinfectant’ for virus cure to his intransigence in the wake of clear election defeat -all alluded to a singular lack of apt behaviour. In fact, his demeanour banked on delinquency. His lasting legacy will remain the mock and scoff he expressed at the COVID-19 19 gravity and urgency, which he maintained as ‘China’ virus till his last public appearance few days ago. Trump played down the virus initially and although himself diagnosed with it later, he did not endorse wearing of the masks, and in fact ridiculed his rival Joe Biden in one of the live presidential debates on wearing one. More disturbingly, Trump’s reaction during the aftermath of the recent elections remains one of the most shocking episodes in American political history resulting in a mob attacking the House of congress.
It would be instructive to note here that Donald Trump was not groomed for the political office. The presidency was the first political office he held; he was neither ever part of the congress or the senate. The maturity and statesmanship warranted by the august office was, hence, conspicuous by its absence. Small wonder, during office, he was accused, almost daily, of making false and mala fide claims, and people close to him have often termed him as ‘infantile’. He took some very controversial decisions like rescinding the Obamacare, banning some Muslim country residents to travel to USA, revoking the Paris climate accords and the building of the wall around the Mexico border where he was seen just few days ago.
Nevertheless, his achievements in terms of opening diplomatic channels for Israel in Gulf are landmark decisions in their own right. Many of the Muslim countries will condemn this but from western and Israeli perspectives these were some impressive developments. Moreover, on the international front, it may also be acknowledged that Afghan peace process was given impetus in his tenure with real earnest especially in the last four years. There were real developments although intermittent. Furthermore, though not mentioned in the press, there have been no drone attacks since 2018, during his tenure, in Pakistan. Whether it is because of the assimilation of FATA in Khyber Pakhtun Khwa, or is due to a US policy initiative remains a moot point. It was also in his tenure that Pakistan enjoyed warm relations, with Imran Khan on board as Prime Minister and after latter’s successful maiden visit to USA.
Nevertheless, at a broader level, it would be a stark reminder to the proponents of democracy to analyse the contrast and contradictions coming out of the recent American ballot. Most of the criticism that democracy receives these days pertain to the fact that only the privileged and the rich can make it to the top, and that the division of the ballot especially if close has the potential of dividing the country into ‘have’ and ‘have nots’. Trump after winning the highest number of votes in the history of USA came out as a loser; only Biden had to take more to eclipse him. The protests and the intransigence that ensued in the wake of recent US elections bears testimony to this potential divide in the greatest democracy in the world, what to talk of the newly democratised countries or the developing countries. Such close fought elections can entail deep wounds among the contesting parties leading to a perennial divide across the board. Not to mention the inherent proclivity in democracy that instigates the opposition and the government to remain always at daggers drawn in order to keep their chances of winning the next elections. Was it Churchill who said that “Democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”, perhaps he might have a point to ponder there!
Muhammad Burdbar Khan is a UK based academic and scholar. He can be reached at email@example.com.