America finally changed the channel

By Dr. Santosh Kumar Mohapatra*

In bitterly fought recent US presidential election, the US voters have rectified the grievous blunder, which they had committed by electing Donald J Trump in the 2016 election who was found to be divisive, disruptive and was accused of fraud, tax evasion, and sexual misconduct and scurrilous remarks about women. The Indian diasporas in the US also took a very judicious decision being not swayed by the flagrant and undemocratic appeal of Narendra Modi to elect Trump with his catchy slogan “Abaki Bar Trump Sarkar “.

Donald Trump’s lifelong nightmare — to be a loser — finally came undeniably true on November 3, when he lost re-election to challenger Joe Biden in a contest he could not explain away with alternative facts. Biden’s campaign happened to come when the country was experiencing a tremendous loss from the ongoing pandemic, which it still has not entirely processed, under a president who has shown no interest in empathy or catharsis. In all those soulful addresses to the camera, sharing his own history of family loss, Biden was filling a role of the presidency that had essentially been vacant for four years.

The undemocratic and fascist tendency of Trump was reflected when he tried to delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy in general. He put his ego, interests, and disappointments first ahead of the interest of the country. He defied election loss and blocked Joe Bidden and made a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the people. After much denial, on November 15, Trump’s quirky attitude was reflected when he grudgingly accepted Biden’s victory in a tweet, but he recanted within 90 minutes and threatened with more lawsuits to challenge the election result.

A US judge turned down the request for an injunction by President Donald Trump’s campaign to prevent state officials from certifying the results of the elections in Pennsylvania. Trump campaign had sought to invalidate millions of mail-in ballots, citing alleged inconsistent treatment by county election officials. Judge Brann made a scathing observation on the lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign, comparing the claims with Frankenstein’s Monster, a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. He said that the court was presented with “trained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”

Full-fledged editorials had appeared in US newspapers and international dailies referring to an unfolding coup. There was also alarm over some of the more ardent Trump aides urging his followers to “retake the country” — words seen as a call to arms to militant groups. However, unlike India. US media, judiciary are very strong and did not allow to overturn people’s verdict. Even many leaders of Trump’s own Republican party put pressure on Trump to concede defeat. In an article published in New York Times, published Nov. 12, 2020, James Poniewozik writes “President Trump’s Show Has Been Cancelled. For years, we’ve been living inside a story defined by Donald Trump’s reality-TV worldview. America finally changed the channel”. Here the question arises when Indians will do the same.

The US president usually acts as a leader of the world, though sometimes decimates other countries who don’t toe its line. Trump’s “Make American Great Again” and “America First” based on parochialism has made “America Alone” and worsened democratic values. The US is now a deeply divided nation. Trump’s defeat marks the end of demonization. Biden’s promise to re-engage with the world is welcome. Biden has rightly called upon to end the grim era of demonization and heal America. Trump’s policy of protectionism, unilateralism, parochialism, racialism has not only affected the world but also divided the US deeply. This election has given America, India, and the world a reprieve

Many things are told about Joe Biden, but no president will be as divisive, undemocratic, divider, polarising figure as Donald Trump is. Anybody replacing Trump should be welcomed with thunderous applause. Biden’s tenure is likely to be more democratic, systematic, deliberate, possibly even bureaucratic, than disruptive. Unlike Trump, Joe Biden will give weightage to freedom of media. However, the US always epitomizes imperialism, interventionism, and capitalism and multinational companies rule the roost. So, it is unwise to expect any miracle from Joe Biden.

However, Trump had a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric and electoral campaigns that benefited from the proliferation of fake news. He was an annihilator of liberal views, antagonistic to mainstream media. He was obsessed with self-aggrandizement. Trump’s arrogance worsened coronavirus infection. Trump destroyed multilateralism and blocked the appointment of new judges to the WTO’s Geneva-based dispute settlement body, which potentially paralyzed its ability to issue judgments. He withdrew the US illegally from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to deprive the UN body of its top funding source. He withdrew the US from the UN human rights council and wanted to dismantle NATO. He also withdrew from the US Paris climate agreement blaming India, China.

Trump discouraged the migration of jobs overseas as part of “America First”. He indulged in a trade war with China which led to shrinkage of global trade and China resorting to a currency war. Trump had introduced tariffs on the number of goods imported into the US. Trump administration walked out of nuclear arms control treaties and withdrew the US from the 31-year-old nuclear weapons agreement with Russia, delivering a severe blow to the arms control regime that helped preserve peace since the Cold war.

According to a New York Times report, Trump’s true financial picture has gotten renewed scrutiny that he has paid just $750 in taxes the year he won the presidency and nothing for 10 of 15 years before that. But this may not be correct as Trump is the wealthiest president in history but his income tax payment is up to 140 times lower than some of his most recent predecessors like George W Bush and Barak Obama. It is argued that he had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years – largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

But he still has plenty of assets he could cash in, starting with a portfolio that includes office and condo towers, golf courses, and branding deals that have been valued at $2.5 billion. According to Forbes’ latest valuation, even pandemic-reduced prices leave Trump with $2.5 billion worth of properties and other assets, and that is after subtracting his $1.2 billion in debt.

However, despite all sorts of protectionism, unilateralism, Trump could not do any good for the US economy. According to Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, neither tax cuts nor tariffs are working in the US. Trumponomics failed to deliver much besides trillion-dollar budget deficits. According to him, Trump has pursued two main economic policies.

On taxes, he has been an orthodox Republican, pushing through big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which his administration promised would lead to a huge surge in business investment. On trade, he has broken with his party’s free (ish) trade policies, imposing large tariffs that he promised would lead to a revival of U.S. manufacturing.

What is disconcerting is that the U.S. government ran a record budget deficit of $3.1 trillion in the fiscal year that ended in September, which is 15.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)– the largest since 1945. Apart from fiscal stimulus to tackle coronavirus, the measure reason for the escalation of the deficit is the reduction in corporate tax and income tax rate to benefits richer sections of society.

America ended the fiscal year with $21 trillion of debt – which means the debt is now larger than a year’s worth of economic output. And this mammoth, gargantuan level of debt is only going to get bigger. According to former President Barack Obama, America’s adversaries, even before the contentious U.S. election aftermath, had seen a weakened country given “cleavages (i.e., a sharp division) in the body politic” that they think they can exploit.

 

 

 

*The author is an Odisha-based eminent columnist/economist and social thinker. He can be reached through e-mail at [email protected]

 

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not in
any way represent the views of  Sambad English.

 

 

 

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