The world breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday as Joe Biden finally broke through the 270-electoral votes barrier when Pennsylvania was definitively called. The Keystone State had delivered us from evil. There was a historic touch to this last development as Biden, who hails from Delaware, got his final breakthrough in Pennsylvanian thus nicely linking the first and second State to ratify the US Constitution in 1887.
Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, a day later Biden began the long, arduous path to uniting a broken America. Not one minute too soon. We had just witnessed the most pathetic set of tantrums that any world leader could ever give – let alone the leader of the nation that prides itself to lead the free world. With tweet after tweet, Donald Trump honed an assault of gargantuan proportions on the very foundations of liberal democracy.
We had been warned. In the run up to election day, Trump had developed a mantra around the possibility of electoral fraud – particularly in the vote by mail system. Asked in the debates whether he would concede gracefully, he never really committed, preferring to poison the minds of his followers with the idea that the election could be rigged. Among these followers are many armed folks who he shamelessly told to “stand by” – we now know for what.
Folks. I am in love with the word ever since Biden used it repeatedly in his speech. Folks. The ones who answered the democrat call to vote by any means possible while staying safe. Folks. The ones who exercised their right to vote by mail and turned the tide in Biden’s favour. Those folks. The people.
It was a tough call but, in the end, Trump was hoisted by his own petard. His appeal not to vote by mail backfired and he was reduced to a schizophrenic appeal calling to “stop the count” in States that had not yet witnessed the turn of the mail-voting tide and to “count all the votes” in other States where his voters’ choice had still not been registered.
In his two speeches as votes were being counted, Trump undermined every notion of liberal democracy and assaulted the basic precepts of the rule of law. His unsubstantiated claims of vote-rigging verged on the ridiculous but he remained steadfast in his actions, just as his supporters remained determined that they were on the cusp of “four more years”. Throughout, Trump did what he does best: lie.
He has spent four years spinning his own yarn and listening to himself, all the while culling the free press and limiting the possibility of getting fact-checked in real time. Significantly, social media managed to turn the tables on him on election day by slapping his tweets and posts with more warnings than a cigarette pack.
Trump has been getting away with his lies because he lied from a position of power for so long. His abuse of his position of power to peddle untruths remained unchallenged and the people were beginning to suffer the consequences. His disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is only the latest example. We were supposed to believe that the US was handling the situation simply because their president said it was being handled.
This kind of behaviour, typical of Trumpism, is evident even closer to home where, despite all facts proving the contrary, our leaders – while relying on the power of their propaganda – fly in the face of science and facts.
A prime minister who still will not bear any responsibility for the COVID-19 disaster that has hit our island is just one example. Watching Trump in action I am constantly reminded of Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and his repeated tirades that all is well in our nation with the reforms that he is supposed to be introducing. If they say it, then it must be true.
They say it. They will abuse of our parliamentary system that gives too much leeway to the Party in government and no longer scrutinizes its operation. They rule by law. Theirs is not to reason but rather to impose through power once achieved.
“We lead not only by example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Biden said, taking us back to the original mission of politicians. To serve through example.
While we understand that they too are human and prone to error we must, and we shall, expect better from them. It is the only way to plant the seeds of hope, the only way to set this world back on the right track.