Do Americans Know What They Have Lost? – OpEd


The unseeming bickering before the recent Presidential election in the USA and even after the completion of the poll, have brought great disgust in the mind of the people around the world, who are not citizens of the USA but who have admired the USA for several of its achievements in the past.

Even as the dust is likely to settle down slowly, it will certainly leave a lot of bad taste and significantly bring down the esteem that the USA has been commanding among the world community at large.

Who is responsible for this situation?

Some people blame President Trump for bringing down the quality level of discussion and public debate in  the USA in recent months. Even if one would concede that Trump has a role to play in the falling standard of debate and discussions in the USA, one cannot but note the fact that a section of media and critics of Trump and opposition party too have contributed to this sad state of affairs, perhaps, even much more than what Trump has done.

The section of media, enjoying the freedom that media gets in USA, has given an impression, which appears to be very much true, that a large section of media is prejudiced and not neutral and objective and has been publishing stories and cartoons solely with the intention of damaging the reputation of Trump amongst the people in the USA and even outside the nation.

In most cases, Trump has reacted to such adverse and undignified criticisms and retaliated with his sharp tongue, which has been used by the critics and a section of media to paint Trump as an uncivilized person, conveniently ignoring the negative role of the media, the so-called activists  who are not neutral and objective, critics and the opposition party.

What is conspicuous is that achievements of Trump in various fronts during his four years of administration have not been evaluated properly and scientifically and given the credit that is due. To this extent, sections of the media and critics of Trump have been unfair and must be held largely responsible for spoiling the political climate in the USA.

Before the Presidential election, many poll forecasts predicted that Trump would be defeated by a big margin. This has not happened. This, obviously, implies that President Trump has a large number of supporters, who approve his performance during his administration. 

While President Trump has described the opposition candidate Biden in bitter terms, it should be noted that Biden and his deputy have not been less virulent. The recent Presidential election has been marked by an absence of quality and educated debate about economic and social issues and the role of USA in world affairs, for which Trump and Biden and sections of the  media in the USA are equally responsible.

The debate on COVID-19 calamity in the USA has been marked by a lack of scientific and intelligent questions and response, duly recognizing the limitations of the US administration in responding to the challenge. On the other hand, Trump has been excessively blamed for the crisis, which is thoroughly unjustified. But, the opposition candidate Biden did it with telling effect as a vote catching strategy. This is clearly vote bank politics.

All said and done, the image of the USA, as a vibrant democracy practicing the lofty concept of personal liberty and freedom, has gone for a toss.

Apart from the Presidential candidates and section of media, all citizens of  the USA are equally responsible for this sad situation, as sane voices have not been heard loud enough amongst US citizens, condemning such negative politics, abuse of freedom by the media and critics.

The sad development is that the fall in standard of politics in the USA, a democratic country and supposed to be a torch bearer of liberty and individual freedom, has led to a debate as to whether a totalitarian government as we have in several middle east and African countries and the dictatorship form of communist government in China, could be better than the level of chaotic democracy that the USA appears to have descended to now.

It is now very difficult to retrieve the image of the USA as having a forward looking and civilized democratic form of government in the near future and the USA will be increasingly ridiculed in the coming years in the world forum as a failed democratic country.

Now, the damage has been done to such a serious level that all one can expect is that President Trump should accept the defeat and gracefully withdraw from the White House.  On the other hand, President Trump is threatening to launch a legal battle, which will lead to a greater humiliation for the USA in the eyes of the world. For the sake of protecting the reputation of  the USA, Trump should desist from such a move, even if he thinks that the election process has been rigged, though many people believe that this is a false allegation.

Former President Obama and future President Biden should stop ridiculing Trump and returning his criticisms in the same coin. They need to observe dignified silence. If they do not and instead rejoice in continuing to ridicule Trump, they too will be doing a great disservice to the image of the USA.

It is not clear whether US citizens have realized what they have lost. But, certainly, those outside the nation now clearly see what it is that the USA has lost.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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