America’s tipping point

(FILES) US President Donald Trump (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

America is teetering on the brink and which side of history it ends up on will have lasting implications for the global community. The foundations of America are mired in controversy, an inescapable legacy which has dogged and peppered every defining and accompanying narrative. Against this back drop is the astronomical human progress which has been made and has come to represent the zenith of human potential and achievement. The apotheosis of America from the terra firm a of fellow earthlings to a bestowed characterization as ‘God’s own country’ is widely accepted. The moniker conjures notions of superhuman powers, limitless resources, grandeur, perfection, invincibility, dominance and immortality. Having the imprimatur of ‘America’ affixed to a person, place or thing, is the universal coin of the realm and a mark of differentiation. The moral leadership of America has been axiomatic in global geo-politics and is expected to be utilized and projected in direct proportion to its immense powers and prowess it possesses. For this reason, the prospect of a fall from such a stratosphere of this leviathan of nations, is beyond human comprehension and defies the imagination.

Trump has ground the hitherto honed juggernaut of democratic governance to a complete standstill by a blanket refusal to accede to the legal demands of Congress, a co-equal branch of government. He is essentially throwing dust in the eyes of the Congressional oversight committee members and simultaneously ‘shredding’ the U.S. Constitution single-handedly. At this juncture, Trump might as well self-coronate as ruling Monarch of the ‘Kingdom of America’. The brazenly lawless and piping hot mess has been dumped in the lap of the Judiciary, which will rule on the sacrosanct, time honoured and ostensibly inviolable Separation of Powers Doctrine. The point of no return will arrive if and when there is an outright refusal by the Trump administration to comply with rulings of the Judiciary deemed unfavourable. This would plunge America and the world at large into unfamiliar territory and subsequent activities will be tantamount to treading water until a definitive course of action, good or bad is chartered. The trains and planes will run and fly on time, high school cheerleaders will waive their colourful pom-poms at the ball games, restaurants and street food vendors will cater to every taste bud, shopping malls will be open to eager shoppers, the hustle and bustle of commerce will continue unabated, Broadway shows will delight theater-goers and dog lovers will walk their adorable pooches along tree lined avenues, down country lanes and in city parks. However, whichever way the pendulum swings, the nation would have arrived at a defining period. A time and place set in granite.

‘History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes’ – Mark Twain. In a recently published scholarly classic by Yale educated Professor Edward Watts entitled, Mortal republic: How Rome fell into Tyranny; Professor Watts succinctly catalogues the transition of ancient Rome from a Republic to a tyrannical dictatorship and more importantly and equally alarming, draws parallels with present day America. In a laudatory peer by David Potter – author of ‘Constantine the Emperor’, he makes the following observation; ‘Edward Watt’s history of the failure of the Roman Republic is the tale of how greed and self-interest undermined the ancient world’s most successful democratic superpower and caused Rome’s people to vote in a dictatorship’. Trump is courting wide reaching ruin on all fronts as he flirts with war disaster with Iran, skates on thin ice with Kim Jung Un and entices China into a no holds barred trade war. These are the deleterious machinations of a desperate man running scared from the ‘hounds’ of Congress and other investigative bodies on his scent. These are not the well-informed, measured, confidence-building actions of a judicious and sagacious leader. Thus rendering his vaunted MAGA slogan a mockery, as he pilots his country and the world on a titanic ocean odyssey, fraught with great peril and without an off-ramp.

Under the present trajectory of Trumpism and against the backdrop of a deeply engrained gun culture, the populace having been reared on external aggression and wars for generations, may likely turn on themselves as the divides within the society continue to be exploited by a leader who is a maestro at pulling on the strings of domestic schisms, to the delight of his devotees. For most others, Trump’s incremental attacks on democracy were initially viewed as perhaps opportunities to determine how well democratic institutions could withstand sustained stress tests. However, the gravity of the situation has become all-consuming and untenable and the ugly, frightful cracks have become craters and black holes. It is obvious to all but those in a state of cognitive dissonance that the wheels have come off. As America hurtles towards taking its place in history, the best case scenario is that indeed the rapidly approaching storm clouds can be turned around in a way that presents a re-set button, which will renew and reaffirm the tenets of a functioning democracy. Failing which there is little hope for the rest of the world’s democracies as an iron curtain is once again descending in parts of Europe, this time evincing shades of official authoritarianism and nationalism. In the field of the 2020 U.S. presidential hopefuls, top Democratic Party contender former vice-president Joe Biden, captured the importance of this moment in history. Whilst recently addressing a crowd of supporters in Pennsylvania, he said the following: ‘I am running to offer our country …. a different path. Not back to a path that never was, but to a future that fulfils our true potential as a country’.

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