Democracy. Is This The End Of Days?
My posts on this platform have, over the years deliberately steered clear of politics as my first foray into that particular field elicited a barrage of negative and bullying comments.
I even got hate mail for goodness sake!
Lately, however, I feel compelled to say something as American politics and, more importantly, one Donald J Trump has invaded my space even on this small island perched on the Indonesian archipelago.
I have begun to wonder how Americans think they are perceived by the ‘outside’ world given their current policy of ‘America First.’ I think I have reached the conclusion that a large proportion of their population couldn’t give a tinkers toss about what others think.
What a shame!
The international media over the last two weeks has delivered scathing report after scathing report on Donald Trump’s acquittal in his senate trial. The gist of most of the articles portrayed it as a comical charade that ultimately would give the president free rein to continue to chip at the very foundations of America’s democracy.
Germany’s respected “Die Zeit,’ wrote that the outcome of the impeachment process was “a triumph for Trump – not just over the Democrats, but over democracy itself”. The piece went on to say that, “the end of this historic yet absurd process had made it abundantly clear how seriously damaged the US political system now is”
Trump is a president who knows no borders and although he did not begin this attack on democracy, he recognized it and accelerated it. He has taken advantage of the smouldering distrust of institutions and norms, proffering lies to those desperate to hear them and slander to all who oppose him.
Die Zeit went on to say that Trump, his followers and the majority of the pusillanimous Republican senators are, together and wilfully breaking down the very concept of democracy,”
I am dumbfounded as these self-same senators blindly kneel and kiss the ring of the Emperor who wears no clothes and sit back and watch as the man strides towards dictatorship.
The judiciary, traditionally an independent pillar of the state has lost its moral compass when it comes to decisions concerning Donald Trump and willingly follows his outrageous decrees.
The press, should they criticize the man in the White House instantly becomes an enemy of the people.
Intelligence agencies, advisers, the whole government apparatus is somehow justified only as long as it supports and agrees with the truth of power.
France’s Liberation, summed up the impeachment saga thus, saying; “The curtain had fallen not before time on a process that for the past fortnight had offered The American public, and the world, a desperate spectacle. A hollow pretence of justice, without testimony or an ounce of impartiality, it ended as expected – in the president’s acquittal.”
The US Senate, once known as the world’s greatest the deliberative body did not deliberate at all. Not for a moment. In refusing to allow witnesses to be called, the Republican bloc, more subservient to Trump than ever, ensured the evidence against him would simply not be examined.
“What will future historians make of it”, the paper wondered. “Will they see a turning point in the way the executive branch accounts for itself to Congress? The ultimate splintering of American politics? The abandonment by Senate Republicans of their pledge to defend the constitution? Or a strategic error by the Democrats? The answer will largely depend on the outcome of the presidential election on 3 November.”
The Australia media too weighed in with gusto with The Age coming out swinging. “Even taking into account Trump’s positives, his negatives, his corruption, his reliance on lying, the numerous sexual assault allegations, his disregard for the spirit and letter of the law – are destructive for constitutional democracy,” it said.
“With Republicans unwilling to check his power, Trump functions more like a ruler, a mob boss, or a kingpin than an elected official. Disregard for the law should be of deep concern to citizens of democracies everywhere. It creates a world where now, status matters more than the law.
In the Netherlands, De Volkskrantz’s Washington correspondent agreed, saying the outcome of the impeachment process was never in doubt: “If it has made one thing very clear, it’s that he has the undivided support of his party – and that if he wins in November, he will be accountable only to himself.”
Trump was going from strength to strength, the paper said: “He exhibits behaviour that has never been seen before in US presidents: the lies, the lack of decorum, the way he puts people under pressure, the demonstrable corruption. But, no one seems to be put off. The traditional values of honour and respect, an inherent part of the Republican party for so long, have been abandoned in a staggeringly short space of time.”
I personally have always loved America as I admire the raw vitality of its constitution. That document was always intended to be a beacon for outsiders to come and create a melting pot of global migrants keen to settle their way across America.
However, that wonderful piece of writing has hardly changed since the 18th century, and as such has become archaic, ramshackle and slightly flawed.
And then, along comes a Donald Trump who has crafted himself as being a folk hero to the ‘deplorables’ the dispossessed and the underprivileged. He presents himself as a ‘benevolent’, tough billionaire buoyed by unfettered vanity, paranoia and narcissism and, in doing so he has somehow made mendacity an agent of power.
A president should, and indeed must surround himself or herself with skilled and wise advisors of substance and yet, a deluge of advisors have come and gone in rapid succession, walking out in despair, their knowledge and experience unwanted by someone who believes he ‘knows it all.’
This revolving door policy tears apart the very fabric of national cohesion which, from the outside looks as if it has become strained close to breaking.
But for many Americans – not just the poor ones – who have long felt isolated from the power centres of Washington and New York, his ineptitude and bullying are somehow perceived as evidence of authenticity.
I recently caught a clip on YouTube where the BBC interviewed a Southern Baptist woman on Trump’s multitude of moral failings. Her response was as flawed as the man himself. “We are all sinners and if Trump is a crook, he is my kind of crook.”
Hopefully Trump will be ousted by a perfectly healthy democracy (if Americans can be bothered to vote!) in 2020 or 2024. So it is up to the Democratic party to find a plausible candidate to succeed him, and in doing so repair whatever damage the current sitting president has caused at home and abroad.
His disruptive term of office should be a warning to all hubristic governments and, if not, the man will be consigned to being a mere blip in the history of America.
But in our time, the impeachment trial of Donald Trump marks an alarming shift in that it has taken a dangerous turn for the fate of democracy not just in America but across the globe.
Paul v Walters is the best selling author of several novels and when not cocooned in sloth and procrastination in his house in Bali he also scribbles for several international and Vox Pop journals.