If popularity vote was the sole determinant for an American president to emerge, Mrs. Hillary Clinton would have been the president of the United States. In the popular vote, Hillary had more than three million votes ahead of Donald Trump. But in America, victory in presidential election is about the Electoral College votes. Americans are aware of this process, yet for the first time in recent time, they questioned the rationale behind a candidate who is more popular among the electorate failing to win the presidency on account of having less Electoral College votes.
Going by her wealth of experience in governance and international politics, chances are high that Hillary would have done better than President Donald Trump. Trump is a cantankerous person, a chatterbox who finds it extremely difficult to bridle his lips. By the time he leaves office, no past president in the world will be able to rival him in flippancy.
The incendiary American president has further reinforced my belief that populism is veiled in deceit and manipulation even though it has advantages. ‘The America first’ was the mantra that Trump needed to make Americans do his bidding. But the average American now knows better as it has become obvious that the ‘we versus them’ that the president promotes often has polarised and divided the country under the watch of Trump.
One of America’s most influential civil rights leaders, Rev. Al Sharpton, has described Trump as an “embarrassment” to America. The revered cleric in an interview with The Independent in June said that: “He (Trump) is trying to turn back the clock on voting rights, on healthcare, and on people’s rights and liberties. We are determined that while he can turn back the clock, he will not turn back time.”
Sharpton, a former advisor to former President Barack Obama, added: “It’s embarrassing to have to explain to people in the UK and the rest of the world why we have a president who tweets the most ridiculous and the most divisive stuff. He has lowered the dignity of the office.” In talking about the ember of disunity being consistently fanned by Trump, basketball superstar, LeBron James, also accused the president of using sports to divide Americans by twisting the narrative of peaceful ‘kneeling protests’ by the National Football League players and a number of NBA players boycotting the traditional White House visit.
“I think at times he uses black athletes (as scapegoats). I believe he uses anything that is popular to try and negate people from thinking about the positive things they could be doing and try and get on their minds. From football players kneeling, Colin Kaepernick protesting what he believed in, he did it in a calm fashion and respectful and everyone knew why he did it,” LeBron told CNN in an interview early August.
“We are in a position in American right now where this whole race thing has kind of taken over. I believe our president is diving us. What I have noticed over the past few months is that he (Trump) is using sport to divide us. That is something I can’t relate to. I can’t sit back and say nothing. Sports has never been something that divides people but always something that brings people together,” LeBron said.
Trump is a racist and promoter of violence. At a time when police violence and brutality has assumed an irksome dimension, when police’s fiendishness is targetted more at the blacks in America, the president reportedly said he is on the side of the police. “Don’t even be kind when you are arresting people,” Trump said in his speech given to law enforcement agents in Long Island, New York, in August 2017.
That infamous remarks in the thinking of most blacks is an open endorsement of police brutality. He has talked about who can come to America and who cannot. He told the world about the need to build a wall across the border with Mexico and why Mexico should pay for the wall. He has with his utterances and conduct brought tension into the Middle East. He planned to ban people from some Muslim countries from entering America. In effort to change the character of America and promote his “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which resulted in separation of undocumented parents and their kids, the wave of criticisms and hasty withdrawal of the policy through executive order is a product of acting without thinking and one of the lowest points of the Trump administration.
Even attempts to clothe the egregious policy in ‘America first’ mantra did not succeed in the face of traumatic stories of children crying at the borders without the comfort of leaning on the shoulders of their parents following the separation. In January, Trump drew the ire of the world yet with his provocative reference to African countries, Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” and questioned why so many people from those countries had ever been permitted to enter America.
The caustic tongue of the American president caused huge embarrassment to America and its citizens as US diplomats around the world were summoned and rebuked for the shameful racist remark of their president. Even the UN could not spare Trump and the Vatican described his offensive remark as “particularly harsh and offensive.” And the 55-nation African Union said the remarks were “clearly racist.”
Trump who later behaved like a chicken with a broken beak admitted that he actually used “tough” words at a meeting with Senators on Immigration but denied using the word “shitholes.” But a Democratic Senator, Dick Durbin, exposed Trump as a liar, who is not ashamed to use lie to cover his dirty tracks, insisting that the president actually used “shitholes” to describe those countries at the meeting. Trump has a penchant for name calling of world leaders and politicians who are not on the same page with him on critical issues. His calling President Muhammadu Buhari “lifeless” is just an addition to the growing list of people he had used uncomplimentary remarks against or gave monikers. When Omarosa Manigault Newman resigned as political aide to Trump in 2017 and later criticised the president and his administration, Trump described her in a series of tweets as “wacky” and “low life.”
To him, former FBI Director James Comey is “slippery” and the “worst” in the history of FBI. Trump called Hillary “Crooked Hillary,” many times in his speeches and tweets at the heat of electioneering. And in the aftermath of suspected chemical attack in Syria, he nicknamed Syrian president as “Animal Assad,” while at different times, he called the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, a “maniac,” “whack job” and “Rocket man.”
His nickname habit also made him to refer to Senator Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted.” For those who jumped at the moniker given to President Buhari by Trump and those who felt the American president deserved to be garlanded for his uncomplimentary remarks, they need to be reminded that there is nothing new in what has become the idiosyncrasy of the US president.
Trump is American mistake. But unfortunately, the whole world is bearing the brunt of that mistake because of the enormous influence of America in world politics. But again, the Nigerian presidency could have perhaps made so much a noise too if Trump had openly endorsed President Buhari for a second term or made a positive remark about our president.
They would have told us that it would boost our relationship with the outside world. The majority of us still suffer from some level of colonial mentality or still have vestige of colonialism left in us. In August 2015, after Governor Rochas Okorocha had returned to the country as a member of President Buhari’s delegation to the US, the governor was so elated with the handshake he had with the then president Barack Obama that billboards showing Obama and the governor were mounted in different parts of the state. Some of the governor’s supporters even deluded themselves that what was a mere friendly gesture had shot their principal up and had made him the obvious Igbo leader. Politicising a mere friendly gesture just because an American president was involved is a vestige of colonialism.
We don’t need to jump at anything American. The remarks made on Buhari is a denigration of the office our president occupies and not about his personality. For me, I won’t lose sleep over the inflammatory remark since it came from Trump, a man known for his notoriety when it comes to giving monikers to others.
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