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Defeat of the tweeting president


US President Donald Trump (Photo by Tia DUFOUR / The White House / AFP)

Two critical events, coming in a presidential election year, could be said to have conspired in putting an end to the highly controversial presidency of Donald Trump. The murder of George Floyd in May, by a brutal white policeman, galvanised the awareness and determination of African-Americans to a new reality. The Black Lives Matter sentiment earned global sympathy and its consequences for the November presidential election can hardly be underestimated. Trump did not manage the crisis that erupted in the aftermath of the police killing in a manner that would have suggested he was a president of all Americans, irrespective of race. The opposition exploited this, while the aggrieved African-Americans registered and voted massively than they had hitherto done even in the election of Barack Obama in 2008.


The second event is the invasion of our space by the coronavirus pandemic which has continued to claim lives all over the world. America has been one of the most badly hit nations, not least because of its population and seemingly nonchalant attitude of President Trump to the crisis. He tended to underestimate the deadliness of the disease by not prioritising the advice of medical experts. Even where he should have been seen to be leading by example, his antics trivialised the wearing of facemasks as a protective cover for the spread of the disease. Rightly or wrongly, his opponents blamed him for tens of thousands of COVID-19 deaths.

Had the aforementioned events not come at the time they did, especially that the economy was previously not doing too badly, the guess here is that President Trump might still have managed to secure a second term in office. The opinion polls did not give him a chance, but his performance in the election, running President-elect Joe Biden very close, suggests it was a job not well-done by the pollsters. America has always been a divided nation along diverse sentiments. The rise of Trump as a dominant figure in 21st Century American politics has been that of a character who has been able to exploit those divisions to political advantage. He has become a cult figure to millions of Americans, especially the so-called white supremacists.


When Donald Trump sought and won the presidency in 2016, he was described as the most combative presidential candidate since Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837, and, uniquely the only president to have come into office without having held a previous political or military position. The latter attribute makes him an amateur that he proved to be in his management of private staff and relationship with politicians and political leaders worldwide. He hired and fired his staff like a businessman solely motivated by personal profit

His former employees gleefully wrote memoirs in which his character was badly denigrated.

His combative and aggressive nature infiltrated into the global arena where diplomacy suffered a major assault. He decided on countries whose nationals could come and those whose could not come into America and had to contend with challenges in the law courts by ideological and political opponents. His philosophy of America First which undoubtedly resonated with millions of Americans at home, meant America was gradually losing ground as the preeminent nation of the world it has been for many decades, and this to the delight of rival global powers. Another aspect of his combative nature was his apparent unwillingness to strike a cordial relationship between his presidency and the press, relying on monotonous tweets for the conveyance of his messages. To be fair to Trump, the press seems to have always been antagonistic to his person.


The world will not forget the presidency of Donald Trump in a hurry. He has run a show, negative in many respects, which many American presidents were not able to do in their two terms in office. His presumptive successor, President-elect Joe Biden, has a lot of mending to do. His first task would be to heal the divisions which Trump has stoked for political advantage. He has acknowledged the enormity of this task in his post-election speech. Biden will hopefully be assuming office in January, inheriting an economy that has been badly damaged by the pandemics. Not least because of his age-he is 77-Joe Biden looks very much like another prospective one term president whose focus and priority would be on domestic politics rather than the expectations of the global community.

There is hardly any disputation to America being a very great nation whose democracy has endured many decades of wear and tear. The challenge for us in Nigeria is to build a formidable nation and a constitution and practice that ensure equality and the peaceful co-existence of differences. We must not allow the arguments of those short-sighted separatists to prevail or be justified. We must be fair to one another, and whoever emerges as President of our federation must see himself or herself as president of all-irrespective of how they have voted in the election.

Dr Akinola wrote from Oxford, United Kingdom.


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