DONALD TRUMP taught me about the danger of not speaking out loud and often enough about the abuse of power. The US president lied, undermined the media and the democratic process at every turn, deemed everything fake news, reaped the benefits of sycophants worthy of a dictator and virtually went unchecked during his presidency. Thanks to social media, he thrived on hyperbole and threats.
Trump’s reputation as an unscrupulous businessman whose ventures often ended in bankruptcy never made him the savvy businessman his admirers pretended he was. His poor reputation preceded him and Congress had every right to investigate him. He shouldn’t have whined about that. To quote former US president Harry S Truman, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Trump shouldn’t have run for public office if he feared criticism and investigation.
Trump elevated himself by attacking everyone around him. He smeared the reputations of good and competent people, defied science in the face of a pandemic and acted irresponsibly at every turn. The world looked on in horror at Trump’s erratic and embarrassing behaviour.
Nothing aroused more fear in me during Trump’s administration than his supporters’ argument that they stand up for Trump because he did so much for the American economy. These are the supporters who get their information from Trump, who calls everything fake news. Government records and economic experts showed that the economy president Barack Obama inherited in shambles from Republicans was on an upturn before Trump came into office. There’s no reputable source that disputes that.
It is dangerous to believe that any of Trump’s economic achievements outweigh his unscrupulous, divisive and irrational behaviour.
We can’t sugarcoat what happened last Wednesday in Washington, DC, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. President-elect Joe Biden was right in calling it an insurrection. Thugs scaled the walls of the Capitol Building, vandalised the place, threatened congressmen and delayed the last step in the election process. Someone waved a confederate flag.
I’m sick of hearing how those Trump supporters care about America. That’s a lie.
There's no denying Trump’s rhetoric has incited violence and undermined democracy. Social media empowered Trump and allowed him to spread lies that the election was stolen from him. Read Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Goldhagen and tell me Trump didn’t tap into existing prejudices against minorities, immigrants and Muslims to create havoc and create division.
The narcissistic Trump holds no values and shows no character. He needs to be held accountable for the chaos he has created.
Trump supporters like to say, “We like Trump because he tells it like it is,” but they can’t excuse Trump’s rude, insulting behaviour. That is not telling it like it is. It’s simply poor, unacceptable behaviour.
Trump supporters say they like him because he’s a businessman and not a politician. They’re sick of politicians. That’s like saying I want the butcher to fix my car because I’m fed up with my mechanic. It makes no sense.
Trump irritated and angered me, but he never destroyed my spirit. Last Wednesday, while watching that insurrection on television, I took heart in the contributions two West Indians made in American history and wrote about them in Making Waves: How the West Indies Shaped the US. The brilliant US founding father Alexander Hamilton, born in Nevis, foresaw the day that uninformed masses would rise in a coup. He had checks and balances put in place to protect the US government from falling to a coup.
Last Wednesday some good news prevailed. Stacey Abrams and her team celebrated the victory of two Democratic senators in the Georgia runoff races. Abrams’s voter registration initiatives over the last two years have an important history. Trinidadian-born civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael’s work in voter registration through the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC) is an important part of US civil rights history.
Abrams and Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) have inspired me to become involved in voter registration. This Friday I attend a meeting to start a chapter of Democrats Abroad in Trinidad.
Now that Trump's administration has come to an end, we can clearly see Americans made a mistake by allowing Trump to run his own show. He used Twitter to fire staff and circumvent the political communication process established in the White House. By now, everyone should realise that running a presidency via Twitter made a so-called leader nothing but a twit.