Walters: US election – Two days to go

Ewart Walters

Two days more. Two days

By Ewart Walters

Two days more. Two days, and if things go the way they seem to be going, the world will begin to emerge from the darkness of Donald J. Trump whose presidency of the US has been an international disaster of nightmare proportions.

In mid-October polls showed that about 44 percent of voters approved of Trump’s job performance — and this was after he’d concealed aspects of his coronavirus infection from the public, shrugged off the larger meaning of it, established the White House as its own superspreader environment and cavalierly marched on.

And to think that we have to thank the Corona virus for driving it home through some very thick skulls that this man who gained the presidency by the fraud of conniving with Russians abroad and voter suppressionists at home is someone from whose tiny hands they should remove the reins of government. It cannot come quickly enough.

As the New York Times says, “Mr. Trump stands without any real rival as the worst American president in modern history. In 2016, his bitter account of the nation’s ailments struck a chord with many voters. But the lesson of the last four years is that he cannot solve the nation’s pressing problems because he is the nation’s most pressing problem.

“He is a racist demagogue presiding over an increasingly diverse country; an isolationist in an interconnected world; a showman forever boasting about things he has never done, and promising to do things he never will.

“He has shown no aptitude for building, but he has managed to do a great deal of damage. He is just the man for knocking things down.

“As the world runs out of time to confront climate change, Mr. Trump has denied the need for action, abandoned international cooperation and attacked efforts to limit emissions.

“He has mounted a cruel crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration without proposing a sensible policy for determining who should be allowed to come to the United States.

“Obsessed with reversing the achievements of his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, he has sought to persuade both Congress and the courts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act without proposing any substitute policy to provide Americans with access to affordable health care. During the first three years of his administration, the number of Americans without health insurance increased by 2.3 million — a number that has surely grown again as millions of Americans have lost their jobs this year.”

And there it is.

What we have been seeing these past four years is an extension of the incomplete American Civil War. The war that was fought to keep Black Americans in slavery and without rights. The incomplete was that is still being fought by people who believe white is right and so do not want Black people to express their choice of leadership at the polls. Removing the last vestiges of voter suppression once and for all should be the first job on the list of the new Joe Biden administration.

America shed tears and breathed a deep sigh of relief when the audacious hope of Barack Obama cleared away the darkness of the Bush years. In this America was joined by millions of people around the world. And for eight years the world enjoyed a period of relative calm.

Then enter Donald Trump to build on the foundations laid down by the Republican Party and the Tea Party, and wreck it in proportions so unimaginable that there is great doubt that it can be undone with dispatch or even completely.

I have never thought that the rich make good Finance Ministers or Prime Ministers or Presidents. We have seen that here in Canada with the case of former Finance Minister Morneau. But it is so much more blatant with Donald Trump, child of enormous wealth who thinks nothing of using other people to create wealth and comfort for himself, and used the presidency to further that. 

And that is the heart of the matter. For he took an oath to represent the people. Not himself. Representing the people is the very essence of our democracy, and in the case of the United States, the checks and balances and separation of powers that were written in to the constitution by the founding fathers were enough all these years – until Trump.

Trump believes that his support of racist, white supremacists and their militias would bring him a second term. But Covid-19 had another idea. So many people have died and or been afflicted that there are now very few families in America who have not felt its sting and agony. Many of those people will not vote for the man who did nothing to prevent its spread although he had the power to do so and was expected to do so. It beats me how people, some of them right here in Ottawa can still express support and admiration for such a man.

The Times continues:

“He promised an increase in the federal minimum wage and fresh investment in infrastructure; he delivered a round of tax cuts that mostly benefited rich people. He has indiscriminately erased regulations, and answered the prayers of corporations by suspending enforcement of rules he could not easily erase. Under his leadership, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stopped trying to protect consumers and the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped trying to protect the environment.”

“His inadequacies as a leader have left us giving thanks for the coronavirus pandemic because they have been on particularly painful display during this time. Instead of working to save lives, Mr. Trump has treated the pandemic as a personal public relations problem. He lied about the danger, challenged the expertise of public health officials and resisted the implementation of necessary precautions; he is still trying to force the resumption of economic activity without bringing the virus under control.

“In September, he declared that the virus “affects virtually nobody” the day before the death toll from the disease in the United States topped 200,000.

“The foundations of American civil society were crumbling before Mr. Trump announced his presidential campaign. But under his leadership, the nation has grown more polarized, more paranoid and meaner.

“He has undermined faith in government as a vehicle for mediating differences and arriving at compromises. He demands absolute loyalty from government officials, without regard to the public interest. He is openly contemptuous of expertise.

“And he has mounted an assault on the rule of law, wielding his authority as an instrument to secure his own power and to punish political opponents. In June, his administration tear-gassed and cleared peaceful protesters from a street in front of the White House so Mr. Trump could pose with a Bible he does not read in front of a church he does not attend.

“The full scope of his misconduct may take decades to come to light. But what is already known is sufficiently shocking:

“He has resisted lawful oversight by the other branches of the federal government. The administration routinely defies court orders, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly directed administration officials not to testify before Congress or to provide documents, notably including Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

“With the help of Attorney General William Barr, he has shielded people from justice. In May, the Justice Department said it would drop the prosecution of Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn even though Mr. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. In July, Mr. Trump commuted the sentence of another former aide, Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation of Mr. Trump’s 2016 election campaign.”

The shocking thing is this. As one Times columnist wrote:

“A large percentage of Americans still support him. Polls from mid-October showed that about 44 percent of voters approved of Trump’s job performance — and this was after he’d concealed aspects of his coronavirus infection from the public, shrugged off the larger meaning of it, established the White House as its own superspreader environment and cavalierly marched on.

“Forty-four percent. Who in God’s name are we?”

Mr. Biden will not be everyone’s best choice for president but the difference between him and Trump is so vast that it has obscured any lingering doubts. I personally look forward to his election night win and inauguration in January.

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