The American election next month matters not only to Americans, but to the rest of the world as well. It will determine how we view America and how influential they will be for generations to come.
America has taken the concept of Manifest Destiny – a mid-19th Century imperialist belief the United States was destined to expand its dominion across North America spreading democracy and capitalism – to market itself as the paragon of democracy and freedom to the point of being the self-ascribed leader of the Free World.
How the mighty has fallen.
Riven by social inequality and systemic racism, poisoned by religious bigotry and crony capitalism, America self-harmed its way into abrogating its position as leader of the free world.
Then Donald Trump ran for the Presidency.
Ever the grifter, Trump’s candidacy for President was a PR stunt framing him as an outsider who would shake up Washington and ‘drain the swamp’.
But Trump was the swamp. For decades, the American media fawned over Trump, stroked his ego and inflated his self-image to the point he and the gullible public believed he was the pinnacle of the American Dream.
The notion of Trump in the White House helped an ailing media sell column inches and caused social media to melt down. His ‘base’ of disaffected working class voters was sucked in by his claims he was one of them who had their best interests at heart.
Trump’s behaviour during the 2016 election campaign should have disqualified him from high office. Yet the misogyny, xenophobia, lying and mockery of the disabled was not enough to stifle the naked ambition of both the Republican Party and Trump’s base in the hyper-partisan post-Manifest Destiny Land of the Free.
When these behaviours were used to install Trump in the White House, there was no reason to believe that Trump’s first term in office would be anything other than a chaotic and narcissistic series of PR stunts, with assaults on truth, decency and statesmanship.
There was certainly no reason to believe Trump had any capacity to deal with a global pandemic.
He failed to take the COVID-19 virus seriously and downplayed its effects at every opportunity. His vainglorious urge to project a tough guy image led him to ignore scientific advice, even as the death toll passed 100,000. America’s dysfunctional for-profit health system strained under the weight of a highly virulent virus, White House chaos and attacks on ‘socialised medicine’.
Trump continued to downplay the threat of COVID-19; even when the death toll passed 200,000, he was still denigrating mask wearing, spruiking discredited experimental treatments and holding campaign rallies which ignored social distancing protocols. And playing golf every other day.
The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg received Trump’s full attention, however. Her death gave Trump and the Republicans the chance to appoint a conservative judge to the Supreme Court. They took the chance with relish, jettisoning the tradition of not making such appointments in the lead up to an election – a ‘tradition’ the Republicans invented in the final year of Obama’s presidency.
The garden party to nominate replacement Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett now appears to be a virus super spreading event. Republican luminaries mingled mask free, shook hands, hugged and kissed the virus amongst the Trump devotees. Trump was likely already infected prior to this event, yet this was no impediment to the stage-managed conservative lovefest going ahead.
Given their reckless disregard for the severity of COVID-19, it should come as no surprise that Trump and his inner circle tested positive for the virus. The calls for Americans to be sympathetic and send ‘thoughts and prayers’ must be seen in the context of a sociopath who only cares for himself.
Ordinary Americans do not get to receive the best no-expense-spared medical treatment in a private suite. Those of us with family in America ponder every day the threat to their health exacerbated by an incompetent President.
And for Trump to take joy rides in a presidential motorcade around the hospital in a desperate ‘Dear Leader’ PR stunt really shows the distain with which he treats the office.
Americans must wake up to the real Trump; his only interest is self-interest.
Through Trump’s own actions, he has cemented the image of his presidency as one rife with corruption, cronyism and nepotism. His toxic divisiveness and outright lies have nurtured a truth-free zone; the consequence being a White House with zero credibility.
This is where America finds itself in the lead up to what could be classed as the most important election ever.
November 3 is judgement day. It will test the common sense and decency of Americans, to stand up and reject the spin of a President who is unfit for office.
The world will rightly judge America on the outcome of the election, and waits to see if America can halt its self-destruction.
By his own admission, Greg Smart was born 40 years old and is in training to be a cranky old man. He spends his time avoiding commercial television and bad coffee.