Neither the Devil nor the Saviour
Donald Trump lost the election because of the coronavirus. An inadequate reaction, typical of individualistic value systems, made people too relaxed, and many even believed that the virus was a conspiracy. Had it not been for the pandemic, Trump would have easily won a second term against a distinctly dull opponent like Joe Biden. The economy was better than ever but eventually, Trump’s ‘black swan’ was the end of him.
THE FLOURISHING ECONOMY… UNTIL…
Trump promised that America would return to its old method of “super-liberalism”, so he “cut down a bunch of regulations”. Interestingly enough, I know more Serbs who emigrated to the United States under Trump than at any other time before him, when they mostly moved to Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. Apparently, people were satisfied with the economic part of his government and if there was no pandemic, in which Donald did very badly, there would be no chance for someone to take away his second term. Americans are generally not interested in their country’s international policy, but rather they are more interested in their wallets, just as we, i.e. the rest of the world, are generally not interested in their wallets, but in their country’s international policy.
However, as a person who believes in the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith, Trump has not done enough. He rode out at dusk, leaving behind the largest number of people dying from the coronavirus in the world – 357,000 at the time of writing of this article. And that’s worse than a war. But even that may not have been the trigger for his downfall; not even “an election theft” that Trump touted. The biggest problem is that in the so-called swing states, especially in the Rust Belt, the lives of citizens have not improved so much. The expectations of ordinary citizens who turned their backs on Obama were largely betrayed. So now, Trump was the “new Obama,” in the sense that he was looking at the back of the workers from states he promised a renaissance to. He protected his rich friends too much and the working class too little. Replacing NAFTA with a new agreement was not enough. Washington swamp wasn’t dried up although there was enough time to do it.
What bothered Americans the most, and the rest of the world much less, were the divisions in society: should monuments to Confederate generals remain? Should ships and military bases to be named after them? Once upon a time, in 1865, that was a sign of reconciliation and unification of the nation – “No-one lost, neither North nor South” – but now we are in a new PC- and cancel culture-time. Something that has long been resolved in other countries of the civilized world, like equality of women or black people, are still issues that burn like eternal fire in the United States. As a result, America was shaken by the protests of #Metoo and Black Lives Matter, adding more fire to the discussion, while Trump, as an old white man, had a clear stance, which almost 50% of Americans considered correct.
In the end, he was not the Devil as his opponents portrayed him, but he was also not the saviour of America and the working class, as people expected.
Precisely because of that, we cannot say that these problems have been solved. Obama “solved“ the LGBTQ+ problem by allowing same-sex marriages. But that was the easiest thing to do because the LGBTQ+ community has money, lobbies, and they don’t take money from the companies’ coffers. The issue of women and African-Americans is much more complex, because they are weaker in the lobbying process and they have less money. If women and African-Americans were made really equal, that would cost both the state and companies billions. That’s why Obama didn’t do it, even though he might have wanted to, and Trump didn’t even want to do it. He truly didn’t. He didn’t tear down his ivory tower. And he paid the price for that.
Most interesting thing to note is Trump’s rather positive role in international diplomacy. Of course, there are also negative aspects: he promised a détente with Russia and relations between the two countries became slightly worse. He has strained relations with China, feeling that China will overtake the United States, but that is only an attempt to stop the speeding train. Huawei will become the world’s No. 1 in a few years and that is inevitable. China has used its sanctions to indifferently restart relations with Iran, and to indulge in economic nationalism: “Americans must win with their own knowledge, not cooperation.” Now the Chinese will have their own technologies, and Chimerica may just be a puppet which will ‘hatch’ China 2.0 – which has already used 2020 to reduce the economic gap with America and the West.
The worst thing was leaving the WHO and the Paris Agreement, as well as the Iranian nuclear agreement. Trump’s obsession with Iran culminated in the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, which is why Iran is now seeking an international arrest warrant for Trump. The fixation that Israel is good and Iran is bad, resulted in Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco and Sudan signing an agreement about the normalization of relations with Israel, while Chad, Oman and Saudi Arabia are next in line to do it. Although this was a positive development, the problem has not been solved – just as peace in the Middle East was not possible if everyone hated Israel and no one had normal relations with it, so it will not be possible if everyone hates Iran and imposes sanctions on it, even if all Arabs, except for a few countries, abandon the Palestinians and turn to something they contemptuously called the “Zionist Entity.” If the problem of Iran, Israel and Palestine is not solved, peace will not be lasting.
Although he killed Soleimani and asked around how to strike at Iran, Trump was still the most peaceful American president. What remains after him are racial and gender quarrels that he did not resolve and the “bloody seal of rebellion” in the end. He did not start a single war. Americans have had a couple of good economic years. In the end, he was not the Devil as his opponents portrayed him, but he was also not the saviour of America and the working class, as people expected.