This week, with any luck, we will know if the voters of this nation opted for a change of leadership in the White House, tired of almost four years of lies, division, cruel public policies, and disdain for human life–especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Or if, for some reason that sociologists and historians will try to explain, this nation will reelect Donald Trump, turning its back on the basic precepts of decency and humanity.
This panorama is, perhaps, the breaking point which will define not only the character of the country that had once been the quintessential example of a democracy, but that would determine the complex new national and international direction of history, in the face of a 21st century that has not finished shedding the chains and vices of the previous century, paradoxically occurring right now in the United States.
This, of course, if the results of the election are overwhelming. Because if Democrat Joe Biden wins in a close election, it is anticipated that Trump will draw upon whatever he can to impune those results in order to stay in power. And to do that, he has craftily cemented a specific narrative to put the integrity of the electoral process in doubt, in order to convince his followers, in advance, that the triumph is his and no one else’s.
Essentially, the different scenarios are difficult to digest because even if Biden wins solidly, Trump’s reaction and that of his followers remains to be seen–convinced by the leader that “fraud” is the only thing that could explain a Democratic win. Sadly, they have already demonstrated their intolerance and violence very clearly; they are the same ones who have made this country a pariah to avoid in the future, putting at risk the important role that it has had as a historic destination for the world’s people in distress.
And if Trump is reelected, the central question will be: “what happened to the United States and what does this result say about us as a society?”
This is, what will it mean if we re-validate a compulsive liar who lacks any semblance of basic decency; who only looks after his own economic interests; who has minimized a pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 people and continued campaigning with events that became loci of contagion; who makes fun of science and recommendations to prevent infections and who even accuse doctors of “getting rich” by declaring that a patient’s cause of death was COVID. One only has to consider his gestures and reactions to the accumulation of inaccuracies that he emits about the pandemic in his public campaign appearances to realize that he is making fun of even those who support him, because he knows he has them eating out of his hands.
An individual with an immigration policy sustained, almost sadistically, in cruelty, separating children from their parents and loosing track of those parents, without moving a finger to accelerate their reunification and without caring about the accumulated anguish of these families, never mind the psychological damage that the children will suffer their entire lives; trapping these children and their parents in cages without basic hygiene and medical care, and even exposing them to permanent abuses. A president who has trampled on the asylum laws of this country making them unrecognizable, while thousands of families have been stranded and destroyed at the southern border, waiting for an answer that the authorities have cruelly delayed in delivering.
A president hell-bent on eliminating Obamacare which offers medical coverage to 20 million U.S. citizens, solely because Barack Obama created it, with whom Trump is obsessed since he began the campaign questioning the ex-president’s U.S. citizenship, and whose reappearance on the political scene has been a stumbling block for Trump’s psyche that he cannot overcome.
A leader who foments division and racism; who has roundly refused to condemn white supremacists; who minimizes racial tensions in this country and calls protestors with real grievances “mobs”; who does not respect women; who thumbs his nose at tax laws and doesn’t pay taxes, in contrast to the rest of the taxpayers, including undocumented immigrants, many of which also worked for him, but know how to comply with the IRS.
A president, ultimately, who favors dictators and autocrats—seeming more and more like them every day—while attacking traditional allies.
In 2016 Trump, incredibly, won his triumph in the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by an enormous difference. If after everything Trump has done and undone he is reelected this Tuesday, it will no longer be a question of who he is but of what this says about us as a nation, as a world leader.
As the saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.