The Trumpification of USA

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Everything that we do, and sometimes, even some things we don’t do, have the potential to change our future.

Let’s consider the current state of affairs in what is considered one of the best countries to live in – the USA.

The country today is deeply polarised in a way it never has been since its Civil War, and it seems unlikely that this genie can ever be sent back into the lamp.

What could be the reason for such a situation to arise?

The possibility of someone like Donald Trump becoming the country’s President was considered so remote that it used to bring a few laughs in the TV show ‘The Simpsons’ many years back.

But, when he threw his hat in the ring in 2015, he won the nomination. This was due to the fact that the GOP, or the Grand Old Party as the Republican Party is called, realised there was a large segment of voters who could be influenced by his personality and simplistic theories.

In this, the GOP was absolutely correct. Like in all populations, in the USA too, there are those who understand the complexity of the problems that face society, and there are those that do not.

It is the later group who can be made to believe that solutions like building a wall or banning visitors from Muslim-dominated countries can solve the problems faced by the country.

They look for someone, who can promise them a better future and is able to find an enemy for them to blame for all their problems – so what if it may all be falsehoods, as long as they are told often and with great conviction and bombast, it is taken as the truth.

This segment of the population is feeling increasingly insecure with the shift to a knowledge economy, where hard work alone is no longer sufficient to earn a decent living, unless it is accompanied by skills that come with specialised education.

Which is why a return to the ‘good old days’ where life was more predictable and dependent more on brawn and not upon brains is such an attractive prospect, and resonated well with Trump’s campaign promise of ‘Making America Great Again’.

It is with the hope of getting these votes that some of the leaders in the GOP threw their weight behind Trump, and ensured that he went on to win the election.

However, in doing so, these leaders may have condemned their country to a future very different from what they may have imagined.

Undoing this polarisation may never happen, and the country could see deep unrest and violence in the coming days.

Even as this article is being written, preparations for President Biden’s inauguration are in full swing, the difference being that this time, it includes preparing for an attack by domestic terrorists i.e. Trump supporters, who believe him when he says that election fraud has taken place and he is the true winner.

The unprecedented attack on The Capitol by a mob, instigated by Trump himself, is but an indicator of the lengths his supporters can go. And, with lax gun control, it is no wonder that the administration is gearing up to face the worst on Inauguration Day and the days that follow.

In a short span of four years, a society that was respected the world over for its scientific temper, fairness, equality, good manners and above all, decency, has shown that there is a huge segment that is gullible enough to believe the falsehoods told to them, and is more than willing to commit acts of violence based on these beliefs, ignoring everything that USA was famous for.

But then, all said and done, unlike other countries, the USA has the advantage of being able to rely on the other pillars of democracy to pull itself out of the morass it finds itself in.

Their Media is still independent to a great extent, the Executive and the Judiciary, despite their practice of political appointments, is still above board and can be depended upon to act based entirely upon law, without fear or favour. Big business, including the super powerful Internet giants have been repeatedly hauled up whenever there is even the slightest of doubt of impropriety.

This has a direct impact on the common citizens’ trust in the processes and systems set in place by the Founding Fathers to ensure that even if something like this happens, their society has a fighting chance to recover.

Due to this, even within the Republican Party, one is seeing a steady stream of leaders who are distancing themselves from the Trump administration, and some have even voted for his impeachment.

Which is why, unlike in some other countries, though Trump still commands a huge support base, there is still hope that the USA will be able to heal itself and change its future for the better.

(The author is from the 1990 batch of XIMB and is currently the Vice President of the XIMB Alumni Association)

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