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Olakunle Abimbola

AKINTOLA taku — remember that infamous phrase?

Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola’s decision to buck a sacred democratic norm (of a prime minister quitting the moment he loses parliamentary support), captured as iconic Daily Times headline, forced a chain of events that crashed Nigeria’s 1st Republic (1960-1966).

US President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede, days after his Democratic Party rival, Joe Biden, had been projected winner, is unlikely to collapse America’s democracy, more than two centuries strong, from its 1788 debut.

But by it, Trump risks the garbage of American history.  He has bucked America’s most cherished political ethos: a graceful concession; threatened the peaceful and orderly transfer of power; and profaned American democracy, by a comic plea of “stolen votes”.

Even now, like the Biblical King Saul, power is leaving Trump.  But Donald Trump kids self he is not leaving power.

Still, his crashed presidency has always been powered by blatant unreason: whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad!

Sophocles’s Greek tragedy, Antigone, first sounded that warning.  But then, its African — nay universal — truism came oozing from Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame, an adaptation of another Sophocles classic, perhaps the most famous of his plays, Oedipus Rex.

In that Trumpian universe of passionate and grand delusion, the embattled president is neo-Samson; and his Delilah is a terrible combo: big ego, badly bruised; and delusion, as deep as the Atlantic, goading him to his doom.

The Samson, in Trump, would crash America’s entire system on own head!  He would bury the world to save his presidential candy!  Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad!

That tragic refrain, indeed, aptly captures the relay of unforced errors, that has left the Trump presidency reeling; and Trump the fair object of global derision, if not outright contempt.

His reckless COVID-19 behaviour makes him the king of unreason in a foxtrot: a failed president in the pan-American anti-COVID-19 charge; an embattled candidate, with COVID-19 as the ultimate referendum.  Not even sympathy, from copping the virus, offers Trump any redemption.

He dismissed as “idiots”, his COVID-19 task force experts, that acidic tongue-lash tanning the iconic Dr. Anthony Fauci, famed physician and immunologist; and revered boss, since 1984, at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with excellent track records in epidemiology.

Fauci might boast global reverence.  But all he earns from Trump is scorn.  This is because Fauci is the Biblical Elijah, that wouldn’t tell King Ahab the sweet stuff he wanted to hear, like Ahab’s posse of false prophets.  Little wonder: Trump threatens Fauci with a post-poll sack!

“Perfect human specimen” Trump (as he dubbed himself, after his COVID scare, at one of his boisterous mega-rallies) won’t wear a face mask, and would be damned if he told his doting supporters to wear one — nor would he tell them to social-distance!

If he did, his rallies would not happen.  If they didn’t, poof! — would go — Trump’s perfect platform: to abuse, to traduce and to trash-talk, the Trumpian vile trinity, and searing verbal weapon of mass destruction!

But while Trump accessed quality care at his COVID-19 crossroads, his expendable republican rabble have none.  That portrays Trump as passionate, if unconscionable, narcissist; and enchanting demagogue, steeped in the most ruthless streak of Machiavelli.  But his doting crowds grumbled not!

The ever-paranoid Trump, believing America’s critical segments, including the liberal media were gunning for him, dismissed overworked medics as COVID-19 profiteers, claiming they blew up COVID-19 death numbers to boost their earnings — a frothy lie that galled and incensed the medical community.

In a taped audio interview with Bob Woodward, ace American investigative journalist while working on his book, Rage, Trump mocked American service (wo)men that fell, or got maimed for motherland, as “suckers” and “losers”, though Trump himself dodged the draft.

Now, Woodward is troubling blast from the past.  With Carl Bernstein, he saw to the drowning of Richard Nixon, another disgraced Republican president, on account of the Watergate scandal.  Rage, a damning work on the Trump presidency, vis-a-vis COVID-19 mishandling, could well be nemesis against Trump, as Woodward was nemesis against Nixon.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement epitomizes Trump’s serious race challenges.  Little wonder, the BLM Washington DC Plaza provided the hub for anti-Trump victory rallies, at the precinct of the White House.  Meanwhile, in Wilmington, Delaware, a victorious Biden singled out Black American voters for special praise.

So, with alienation from the critical mass of America’s polite society, where did Trump get his 71 million votes from, the second highest in American presidential election history? The answer would appear in America’s fast changing demographics.

The frontiers men, WASP — White Anglo-Saxon Protestant — from Europe homed in on America and chiselled it in own, and to be sure, glorious and winning image.  En route, they all but wiped out the American aborigines: native red Indians and allied Latinos; and brought in tethered Africans, as plantation slaves.

But 200 years down the line, its rapid demographic  changes — enough to alarm the core white American base.

That base and Trump enjoy fierce, symbiotic passion; and even fiercer mutual fears: rural seniors, suburban men and non-college educated Whites who couldn’t see, for the life of them, why “aliens” (read immigrants) could come take away their opportunities, in their own native land.

Hence the war cry: Make America Great Again (MAGA)!  It is hooked to the past and driven by raw fear.

But the Biden coalition is much more hopeful and futuristic: college educated and global-minded Whites, Blacks, Latinos, suburban women alarmed by Trump’s divisive rhetoric — and even elders, male and female, endangered species, by Trump’s bad management of COVID-19.

The first alarm, of this looming coalition, of irreversible demographics, was Barack Obama, America’s first Black president.  Though Trump was the nativists’ electoral response, now Kamala Harris, America’s first female Vice President — horror of horrors! — of African and Indian heritage too, raps loudly on the door!

Donald Trump might feature among the most flawed of personalities in history.  But it is vital to understand the raw dynamics that drive him to further, if avoidable, disgrace.

Trump is the strong breed of nativist white America, not in a hurry to face its racist past but nevertheless fated to do so.

The Nation

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