“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”C.S. Lewis.
The quote above caught my attention, while I reflected on the presidency of Donald Trump whose rise to power came to a tragic/controversial end after four years, thereby setting a tragic unprecedented history that might take generations to break, if at all.
I am not used to writing on western politics, and governance, this is because it appears everything I do or say is Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. More so, as the biblical saying goes, “Only the sick needs a physician” (Matthew 9:12). But on this day, I feel obliged to talk about the USA, following the recent ugly incidents that have made the most powerful country in the world what many have come to describe as a public disgrace, or a laughing stock to the rest of the world.
A few questions come to mind: How did the most powerful democratic institution on earth get here? How come the same system that made Trump a president four years ago, suddenly became a failed system because the same Trump lost an election? If indeed the election was manipulated, how come there was no clear evidence before the supreme court to overturn the elections in Trump’s favour?
Is the judicial system, many of whose judges Trump’s administration appointed also corrupt? What about the recounting in the states where elections were alleged to have been rigged? How come nothing changed after the recounts? Why did Trump finally accept defeat after turning his esteemed supporters against the legislature, by desecrating the sacred Capitol Hill? These, and many more, are questions that call for a sober reflection for a supposed most powerful president on earth, but who left the White House smaller than he came.
I respected and still respect Donald Trump till date. If not for anything, but for putting Americans first. For bringing ISIS to its feet and silencing it. For appearing to always stand for life based on his firm position against abortion. And for his great achievement on American’s economy against all odds.
Indeed, if for no other thing, Trump would be remembered for the achievements above.
On the contrary, Trump failed in ways too numerous to name. Trump’s failure is what I would best describe as a result of pride. A man’s success depends largely on his ability to overcome himself. This self, is one’s ego, one’s pride. That was the failure of Trump. Trump could not overcome his self pride. Trump is his own greatest enemy. Trump rose to power with one of the campaigns’ mantra of draining the swamp, but Trump left the presidency, worsening the swamp.
He further worsened the swamp for the following reasons:
From appearing a racist to the world, to cherry picking in international relations. From speaking from two sides of the mouth, to wrong handling of some protests during his tenure; with the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, the #Blacklivesmatter movement, becoming the most popular. Furthermore, from the initial denial of covid-19, to the blame game of naming the virus ‘Chinese virus’. Beyond that, for not coming up with a firm policy that would have reduced the spread of the virus. Instead, he trivialised the situation, blaming the WHO and China. The situation was further worsened, leading to the death of thousands of Americans.
As at January 20th, 2021, the very last day of Trump’s tenure as the president of the USA, according to John Hopkins report, USA had confirmed cases of 24,434,283 of covid-19, and 406,001 death rate. And has remained the highest in the world (John Hopkins University, January 20th, 2021).
Trump’s mishandling of covid-19 was equally obvious when he too contracted the virus. But despite contracting it, he still downplayed it by not keeping to covid-19 protocols.
Indeed, the world looked up to the USA in those tough moments, and early days of the spread, but Trump’s frivolity ridiculed the USA before the rest of the world.
Worse still, Trump failed to realize that the position of the number one citizen of any nation, is the most dignified position that commands dignity and integrity. Thus, anyone who occupies such position must conduct him/herself in a dignified manner. Let alone the number one position of the most powerful nation on earth. Trump, instead of facing issues of core national and international importance, turned himself into a Twitter handler, fighting dirty with CNN and other big media outlets, thereby belittling his presidency the more.
Who could have believed that the most powerful president on earth could have his media handles blocked by the Big Techs, a few days to the end of his presidency?
It would go down in history that the 45th president of the USA became the first to be impeached twice in a single tenure. Indeed, Trump could best be described as the president that rose to power and turned American’s economy around for good. But would be worse described as a president who failed to objectively address the issue of covid-19, thereby causing the death of thousands of Americans. Indeed, Trump in summary, could best be regarded as a tragic hero.
On the very last hour of his presidency while addressing his sparse supporters at the Joint Base Andrews in his final words, he said, “Goodbye, we love you, we will be back in some form” (CNN, January 20th, 2021). Whatever he meant by those words, only time shall tell.
Let us hope that those who aspire for key positions in society would learn from the tragic end of Trump’s presidency. No one ever sees the top while constantly looking down.
© Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI January, 2021
Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI is a Catholic Priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is currently on mission in the Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon.