US ELECTION

Biden appealed to America’s head but Trump has its heart and spoke truth to Third World

Many Americans came out to demonstrate that they wanted their country back from the world stage.

In Summary

• By pushing the America First agenda, Trump was inadvertently forcing African leaders to develop solutions for their own challenges.

• He, therefore, offered Africans the rare opportunity to use their knowledge to develop their science for innovation.

US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump
Image: REUTERS

The US went to the polls on November 3 to elect a new president or retain Donald Trump for a second and final term.

While results are still trickling in a week later, media houses have already called the election for Joe Biden. The results are yet to be certified.

Regardless, Biden has proceeded to conduct business as the president-elect, while Trump has continued to act as the president.

With 279 of the electoral votes cast in his favour, Biden has every reason to be happy and confident of stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On the other hand, with the validity of many votes in some states in doubt, Trump is confident to overturn the Democrats’ return to the White House. His legal and campaign teams are assembling evidence to petition state judicial systems all the way to the Supreme Court.

Trump hopes to benefit from a conservative-leaning Supreme Court bench as George W. H. Bush did in 2000 against Al Gore. Interestingly, Bush has since congratulated Biden for his resounding win.

Many other world leaders have also joined and sent best wishes to the president-elect.

This election, however, has put the US in very unfamiliar territory and the spotlight is becoming uncomfortable for its international standing. President Trump’s tenure has exposed America's not very attractive  underbelly.

In 2016, Trump won the election against all odds and more importantly, against the consummate internationalist Hillary Clinton. Clinton had an illustrious career from being a leading legal practitioner in Little Rock, Arkansas, to being the Governor’s spouse to First Lady and finally Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.

The election was hers to lose and she was poised to be America’s first woman president. How Trump turned the tables on her remains a cherished chapter in the study of political history.

When Trump won he didn’t disappoint on his election pledges. He pushed an insular agenda of putting America first. He rolled back centuries of the US global activities and policies within a few months in office. Some of his executive orders seemed ridiculous and unimplementable but he pushed through.

 

He faced hostility from the House of Representatives but that did not deter his resolve. Nancy Pelosi led the Democratic Party onslaught without much success. An impeachment motion ratified by the House failed on the floor of the Republican-controlled Senate.

Trump never had any stable Cabinet in the four years of his first term. He fired any official who appeared to second-guess his vision and direction. The staff turnover at the White House has been unprecedented. In fact, he has continued to fire them and relieved Secretary of Defence Mark Esper amidst the expected transition.

AMERICANS DIDN'T REALLY HATE TRUMP

The more interesting part in the election is the difference in votes cast for both candidates. President Trump got 71.5 million of the popular votes against 76.4 million for Biden at the time of this writing.

In a country that appeared to loathe their President with such passion, the numbers tell a different story. The figures spoke of a deeply divided country with almost half pledging unflinching support to their perceived rogue leader. Many of his supporters were ready and willing to physically confront any attempt to deny him victory.

Many Americans came out to demonstrate that they wanted their country back off the world stage. In their estimation, only Trump had the courage to make America work for Americans.

The US had become a land of opportunity for immigrants instead of its citizens. According to Trump, US companies were out-sourcing jobs and thus denying fellow Americans jobs. They were also paying taxes to foreign countries instead of using these resources to build their America. His clarion call of Making America Great Again resonated with millions of voters.

They returned the favour by casting their lot with him for a second term. Many more were also tired of the numerous unending wars across the globe where young servicemen took part without knowing when they would return home. Much as Biden was the kind of candidate that Americans and the world are used to, Trump was the man who had the pulse of these millions.

For those in the developing world, Trump presented an opportunity for introspection. The patronising foreign policy of the US has been largely responsible for Africa’s underdevelopment and concomitant corruption. Africa in particular and third world in general have always found an excuse for its underdevelopment in its historical relationship with the West.

The West is blamed for exploitation through slavery, colonialism and imbalanced trade arrangements. While these are gross injustices, they cannot be remedied by appealing to the moral obligations of the West. African leaders and those in the  third world must bite the bullet and take the bull by the horns. They cannot hope to develop their respective countries through alms and benevolence from the West.

The resolve of the leaders is weak at the negotiating table and that is why they end up with imbalanced trade treaties. Africa is endowed with abundant resources. Instead of developing these resources for  national interests, leaders enter into arrangements with external interests that expropriate the benefits to foreign countries.

While the local minerals and other natural resources are shipped outside in their raw form, the leaders take up loans at exorbitant prices. The loans eventually end up financing the private interests of the leaders through sleaze in commissions and kickbacks. The national debts continue to balloon while the leaders invest in western capitals.

President Trump appeared to cure this cyclic debt trap. He promoted trade instead of grants and loans. He reduced federal foreign spending in areas that he considered not strategic to American interests. This was already denying many African leaders free funds from external sources that are easy to plunder.

By pushing the America First agenda, Trump was inadvertently forcing African leaders to develop solutions for their own challenges. He, therefore, offered Africans the rare opportunity to use their knowledge to develop their science for innovation.

The reliance on the foreign helping hand was definitely shifting to local solutions as witnessed by the many innovations made during the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump was therefore a blessing in disguise.

Africans should learn to continue to generate resources for their development internally and invest them strategically and optimally. These gains should not be rolled back by the Biden administration for the sake of Africa’s development.

Whatever the final outcome of the US elections, our over excitement in Africa is misplaced. This is an American matter that will not solve our problems. At least we now know that even their system is not foolproof.