President Trump’s false claims are highly dangerous - GulfToday

President Trump’s false claims are highly dangerous

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump walks out of Marine One at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, on Saturday. Reuters

Donald Trump intends to do his utmost to sabotage the incoming administration by cultivating an atmosphere of hostility among his followers toward President-elect Joe Biden and undermining state institutions and agencies ahead of his inauguration. Although Trump has said he will move out of the White House in January when his term is up, he continues to refuse to concede the election and to claim it was “rigged” and the outcome involved “massive fraud.”

Bilked of 30-odd unsubstantiated legal challenges to the election results in half a dozen battleground states — including Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin — Trump has escalated his attacks on the US democratic system which depends on elections to provide national leadership. Belief in the integrity of the elections is essential to the system.  

Trump’s false claims are highly dangerous because according to recent polls three-quarters of Republican party supporters believe him and regard Biden as an imposter. Consequently, a large proportion of Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives and Senate can be expected to oppose policies initiated by the Biden administration even if he is prepared to compromise in order to secure bipartisan backing.

While his legislation is likely to pass the Democrat majority House, if the Republicans gain a majority in the Senate in the January 5th run-off election for two seats in Georgia, the Senate could block Biden’s initiatives, leaving him with the option of ruling by presidential decree.  Ironically, this is precisely what Trump has done for nearly four years cause the Democrats have had the majority in the House.  Trump is also a showman who prefers decrees because he can pose as a monarch and sign them with a flourish with a broad tipped pen and turn documents to the cameras to display his huge, spikey signature.

Trump does not plan to make a “last stand” before he leaves the White House. He seeks to retain the limelight by disrupting the Biden administration’s agenda. He will hector Biden personally and hover over Washington.  Trump will keep up his normal stream of tweets and maintain a perpetual presence in tame media. He could prompt his armed supporters to continue to commit acts of violence against anyone they deem Trump opponents.

These supporters, who constitute a vicious element on the extreme right of the Republican party, include White supremacists, neo-Nazis, ex-military types, militant evangelical Christians, and racists from diverse backgrounds. Linked by the common belief that White people are superior to other races, they have joined together to counter Black Lives Matter demonstrations, rallies calling for the regulation of gun ownership and use, and protests against Trump’s policies.

Trump has, so far, refused to state whether he will run again in 2024, preventing reasonable Republicans from considering the race and discouraging members of his administration who have contemplated candidacy, including unreasonable Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or even more unreasonable Ivanka Trump.  A second administration under The Donald or his daughter would be too terrible to bear.

When he took office in January 2017, Trump’s backers argued he would rise to the office he was elected to fill.  He has not.  He remained himself: narcissistic, chaotic, erratic, childish, and unstable. At the beginning of this term, he surrounded himself with men of some stature. His Secretary of State was Rex Tillerson, a CEO of Exxon Mobile; Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, a former Marine general; Homeland Security chief John Kelly, another Marine general, who became White House chief-of-staff; and H.R. McMaster, an army general who served as National Security Adviser. These four constituted the “adults in the room” who tried and often succeeded in restraining Trump from particularly risky courses of action and outright dangerous policies. But, one-by-one they were eliminated, leaving him with enablers who would not or could not curb his excesses. As a result, Trump became a loose cannon on both the domestic and international scenes.

He has succeeded in imposing a number of regressive conservative policies on the country and appointing scores of conservative federal judges and three conservatives to the Supreme Court. However, Trump has failed miserably in the most serious challenge he has faced: dealing with the coronavirus. He began by dismissing it as a “little flu” and never took it seriously.  Although he, his wife, and two sons have caught and, so far, survived the virus, 265,000 US citizens have died and 13.2 million have been infected and may suffer illness and debilitation as a result. He could not care less. He thinks only of opening the economy and recovery while fellow citizens are falling ill.

 At the end of the year, 12 million will be without jobs and unemployment benefits because Trump’s Republicans refuse to agree to legislation that would extend aid.  On January 20th he will resume his chairmanship of Trump enterprises and live lavishly at his luxury resort in Florida.

Meanwhile, faced with the prospect of standing down in 50-odd days, Trump is determined to wreak as much havoc as he can. For example, he is ready to sign an executive order to strip job protections from career civil service employees, leaving them at risk of being fired before he departs.  He particularly seeks to target those who resisted or did not carry out his orders, making this a political purge rather than a cull of under-performing individuals or a reshuffle of administrators whom Trump regards as the “deep state.”  If enacted this measure could remove bureaucrats essential for the functioning of the Biden administration.

Although a lame duck who was defeated in his bid for re-election by a margin of six million popular votes and 232 Electoral College votes against Biden’s 306, Trump is set to campaign in Georgia for Republican candidates ahead of the run-off election in early January. While his most devoted fans will welcome his appearance, Georgia’s Republican administrators and local officials may resent his presence.  He has constantly criticised the management of the election, claimed “fraud,” challenged Biden’s win in that state, and forced two recounts of ballots. Once the first recount was accomplished, Georgia gave its Electoral College votes to Biden.

By dismissing and challenging the result of the election Trump is undermining the obsolete but sacrosanct US democratic system of governance installed by the country’s founding fathers. He is destabilising the US political and economic scene and destroying what little credibility the US retains on the international scene.

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