For the past three years or so, this analyst has watched with increasing dismay the uncritical admiration and love that the desi nationalists have been displaying and expressing for President Trump. At times, the swooning by the Trump admirers’ club in these shores has been positively embarrassing.
This is not to deny that Donald babu had walked into a scenario where the earlier Democratic leaders had been displaying amazing myopia and dangerous illusions about India’s security concerns and the peaceful nature of our sworn adversary, Pakistan. Hillary Clinton and her coterie in the Democratic Party had been most egregious about the existential threats that our immediate western neighbour poses for us and our ancient Indic civilisation.
There was (and is) a personal chemistry between Trump and Prime Minister Modi that is genuine and impressive. Furthermore, an entire generation of new Indian immigrants from specific socio-economic backgrounds also have a very positive attitude towards Trump that is not shared by the earlier Indo-Americans who have been in the U.S. for many years. Because of these two factors, there is a now a clear bonhomie between South Block and the White House, as well as between many Indians in the old country, their new relatives in the U.S. and the current President.
All this is hunky dory. However, this writer is not a fully paid-up member of the Uncle Donald Fan Club. I have always had reservations about DT (as he will be referred to subsequently) and his policies. Just after the last American Presidential elections in November 2016, I had written an essay on DT and posed the question about the consistency of his views on India.(https://swarajyamag.com/world/trump-in-the-oval-office-how-it-might-pan-out-for-india).
One of the worries that I had expressed was whether Raisina Hill would be able to fine-tune its world-view and develop rational expectations from the Trump administration, based on a nuanced assessment of America and its society. Any hype would lead to disaster. Fortunately, things panned out rather well for Indo-American relations in the last four years. However, DT’s conduct in other areas was hardly kosher. This is the theme that I would like to develop in this essay and spell out for my readers the critical questions about DT that we must all ponder upon.
After all, as President of the U.S (POTUS), DT is the single most powerful individual on this planet. His conduct and policies have a major fall-out on every aspect of life on this globe, among which Indo-American ties are a relatively small component. Statistically however, the other policies of DT would have a major impact on how our two countries get along. The key factor, therefore, is DT and his likely conduct. What is critical is how the American electorate would respond to DT on election day, the 3rd December.
Therefore, let me get down to the principal issues pertaining to DT, not necessarily in any order of importance. The first is the increasingly erratic behaviour of the man in the last few months. To mention just one issue, there were credible reports that DT was medicated with the steroid, Dexamet has one, used for seriously ill covid-19 patients. This is certainly alarming many because its known side effects include aggression, agitation, and “grandiose delusions”—behaviour that he already seemed to exhibit, based, at least on his Twitter writings.
There have been many red flags raised about DT in the last 3 years. Some senior American officials have said that Trump appeared to be suffering from some form of dementia. A former White House adviser Omarosa Newman stated in her book “Unhinged,” in 2018, that Trump’s “mental decline could not be denied.” Trump’s former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said, in 2019, that Trump “has declining mental faculties.”
Others, including DT’s niece Mary L. Trump, a clinical psychologist, have said that his behaviour shows the symptoms of “narcissistic personality disorder”. A number of mental-health experts have also suggested that he may suffer from “malignant narcissism,” a term that was coined by the psychologist Erich Fromm to describe Hitler and Stalin. DT, most worryingly, has even refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
If he persists with this attitude, DT will bring unprecedented disaster to his country and Indo-American ties will be nothing more than a foot-note. In a scenario presented by a well-known professor of Constitutional Law, Edward B. Foley in 2019, DT might even attempt to defy a landslide in the popular vote in battleground states. Larry Diamond, a political scientist at Stanford, has described “by far the most dangerous scenario” in which DT could adopt Bihar-West Bengal tactics and stop the counting at midnight on election night, before the Democratic wave starts coming in. The situation will be much clearer on the night of the 3rd November (the morning – afternoon of the 4th November in India) what the trends are.
DT’s India-based fan club will be most disappointed to learn about the results of a recent poll in September this year, conducted by a reputed organisation. The data shows that Indian Americans continue to be strongly attached to the Democratic Party, with little indication of a shift toward the Republican Party. In addition, Indian Americans view U.S.-India relations as a low priority issue in this electoral cycle, emphasising nationally important issues such as healthcare and the economy. There is scant evidence that Democratic voters are defecting toward Trump and the Republican Party.
Seventy-two percent of registered Indian-American voters plan to vote for Biden and 22 percent intend to vote for Trump. There is little doubt that Harris has mobilised Indian Americans, especially Democrats. Hervice-presidential candidacy has galvanised a large section of the Indian-American community to turn out to vote. On balance, while Harris might not change large numbers of votes (given the community’s historic Democratic orientation), her candidacy is likely to ensure greater enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket.
Internationally too, DT is faring poorly. Staunchly-conservative journals like The Economist and The Spectator in Britain of London have also endorsed Biden, although the latter’s socio-economic views are quite different from what these journals normally espouse. Even the American business community is clearly less than enthusiastic about DT, who should logically have been their choice. On the 2nd December, the New York Times disclosed the list of top donors for Joe Biden. These include some of the most prominent and well-endowed names in American business who have helped Biden to surpass the funding received by DT.
For desi fans of DT, there are startling revelations about him that are just being disclosed. Earlier this year, on the 7th February, DT tweeted praise for China’s “great discipline” in fighting the coronavirus and predicted that Xi Jinping would be “successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.” Later that day, the President, in an interview with Bob Woodward, acknowledged that the virus was serious, but said, “I think that it goes away in two months with the heat.” On the 24thFebruary as infections in America increased, he tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”
For many of us in these shores, DT sounds like a variant of Rahul Gandhi and his other fellow-accomplices. The only difference is that these local yokels do not have their finger on the nuclear trigger that can bring about the disappearance of the homo sapiens species.
Finally, as a dog lover, I wish that DT, like all respected American Presidents in the past, had got himself a dog after he entered the White House. It would have done wonders for his mental stability and balance. More importantly, it would have benefited the entire globe. After all, he is the first President in the White House not to own a dog.