America’s Elections: Will Trump go the way of Jimmy Carter?
By Abdullah Dan’azumi Golkos.
With less than Three weeks to go before the American elections, President Trump and Joe Biden of the Democrats have had their Town Hall meetings simultaneously. While President Trump was on the NBC, Joe Biden was on the ABC Television stations. The meeting was held in place of the second Presidential debate which was shelved at the instance of President Trump when he got infected with the CoronaVirus.
During the program, typical of President Trump, he presented himself as an aggrieved victim, combative. He shifted blame for everything on others. This was in contrast to Joe Biden on the ABC Network who a commentator said presented himself like a considerate uncle. Both candidates had tough time regarding particular issues. President Trump about his taxes and the white surpremacist, while Biden’s was about about Black voters who “ain’t Black” who won’t vote for him and Supreme court packing.
While Trump was hesitant to condemn the white surpremacist, Biden refuse to give a committal answer to the issue of Supreme court packing deferring it until after the hastely organised hearing and confirmation of Barret.
Meanwhile Biden continue to lead in the opinion polls. But the most formidable force working against Trump’s re-election, is not his own making: the CoronaVirus. Like Jimmy Carter before him, he looks destined for one term.
Since 1973 when President Nixon was forced to resign before being impeached as a result of the Watergate scandal,there had been only two one term Presidents Jimmy Carter(1976-80) and George Bush Snr(1988-92) with exception of President Ford who took over from Nixon.
It should be noted that Ford was not an elected President. It was after the resignation of Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew for tax evasion that he was brought in from Congress to be the Vice President. When Nixon resigned, based on the provisions of the American constitution, he became the President. He in turn brought in Rockefeller to be his Vice.
So during the time of Ford, you have both a President and a Vice that were not elected. This was to cast a shadow on his Presidency as some elected officials does not defer to him. He was the American version of Nigeria’s Ernest Shonekan.
With such a liability, President Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976. Against the background of the Watergate scandal, when Jimmy Carter took over, he was seen as a Saint. He was a born again Christian who promised never to lie to Americans.
Having come from Georgia which has a significant population of African American’s, it reflected in his Government. He was the first American President to raise the Political profile of African American when he appointed Andrew Young as the United states representative to the United Nations in that era of multilateral approach to international issues. He was later on forced to resign for meeting with Terzi Habib, the PLO representative to the UN. Having come to power in the heydays of apartheid and the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe( Rhodesia), he took keen interest in the unfolding events in South Africa.
To underline American interest in Africa, he visited some African countries including Nigeria in 1978. His promotion of human rights as a foreign policy tool was a welcome relief to liberation movements all over the world and an indictment of dictatorship universally.
In the Middle East, he succeeded in convincing Egypt and Israel to sign a peace treaty. An action that was to cost the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat his life in 1981.
On a visit to Iran in 1978, he described it as an Island of stability. For then, Iran was the flagship of modernisation in a predominantly conservative region. The Shah of Iran mistook modernisation for development and recklessly went about it aggressively by forcing women to take off their veils. The standard of living was very high. Tehran could rival New York in terms of the number of automobiles on the street with traffic jams being a constant feature. There is not the least sign of discontent anywhere on the streets.
With both internal and external political situation working in his favour, Jimmy Carter’s second term looked assured and certain untill…
At a seminar at the University of Tehran, in far away Iran, a Government official made an uncomplimentary remark about the late Ayatollah Khommeini who was in exile in France then. There was a protest by seminary students in the holy city of Qom, which is the theological centre of the Shi’ites.
The security forces used maximum force leading to the death of dozens of citizens. This set in motion a chain of events resulting in the abdication of the Shah with the resultant seizure of the American Embassy in Iran and holding the staff hostage. President Carter organised a military rescue which failed worsening the fate of the hostages. Finally the events in Iran consumed him and he lost the elections after a term.
Donald Trump came to office on a nationalist ticket of America first. He raised tariff and promoted protectionism to protect American industries and preserve its market for American goods. As a result of this, industries bounced back to life and unemployment figures come tumbling down. The stock exchange was roaring.
His Anti immigration policy was to preserve Jobs strictly for Americans. His singling out migrants from Muslim countries to be prohibited from entering the US was to please the religious and the conservative right who has come to equate Islam with terrorism. As for the drug smuggling Mexicans, he settled for a physical wall to keep them out. He fenced Americans in for their own good. In his attempt to preserve and protect American interest, he alienated long term allies.
To please the Jewish lobby, the transferred Americas embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem against international opinion and past Presidential policies. He revoked the Iranian nuclear deal without regard to the European union.
Before then he has succeeded in negotiating favourable trade deals with China. Then like Jimmy Carter with Iran, came the CoronaVirus.
As the campaign for the elections are on, his handling of the virus which have consumed the life of about Two Hundred and Seventeen Thousand Americans and is still counting has continued to be an Albatross on his neck. All his efforts to make it a non issue in the elections, including praising his own efforts on managing it has failed.
His lack of empathy for the victims has only alienated him from them. He is touting his recovery from the virus as a reference of its harmless ness, forgetting his privileged position as a President which gave him access to cocktail of medication that will never be available to the ordinary American.
It just look as if the seminar at the University of Tehran that set in motion a chain of events from the Middle East that consumed Carter, so will the CoronaVirus(he call it China Virus) which started in far away Wuhan, China, may consume Donald Trump.
Like Carter before him, they are both victims of events beyond their control. Their case prove the unpredictability of politics in which Twenty Four hours is a long time.