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Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times, UAE

The Defilement of Democracy

A Blemished Hundred Days


In the quietest of moments, when boisterous voices fade into the background, we have time to reflect. And reflect we must in this nation — the political noise is shrill with contradiction, polarized as never since the Civil War. What remains unambiguous today, as it did when Donald Trump took the oath of office, America’s reputation is defiled.

The illustrious position of being a democracy that was once part of the American tapestry has been mottled with stains. Our nation, which once reassured its citizens with a competent government and sent an inspirational message of democratic values to those in authoritarian countries, is blotched by this president’s crude image of himself and how he vocalizes his intentions on behalf of the American people.

This administration and some in the media continue to try and normalize these actions. Even as cover-ups of collusion with Russia are revealed, and unethical behavior using the Oval Office as a “business” office to cut deals with foreign leaders — allowing the Trump family to increase their fortune — clearly, what cannot be hidden is the blemish Trump and his family are to our nation.

Nepotism, a lack of transparency, and the vague way Donald Trump governs are part of a defiant administration. They say they don’t need or want to be politically correct; instead, unnecessary nastiness in spoken words and tweets are the order of the day. No thought is paid to future consequences; no apology is ever required no matter how much the Trump administration lies.

Consternation existed from the beginning. Every proclamation of “make America great again” carried the unspoken implication that America faced an abyss, in no small part because of immigrants. As Trump’s language became more hostile toward Muslims and Hispanics and anyone who dared to challenge him, the nation he divided pulled even further apart. Compromise became a sign of weakness, and pragmatic arguments for any issue were short circuited by flaming diatribes from candidate Trump.

As the presidential election drew near, Trump’s vitriolic speeches took a life of their own, and all who heard the tone adopted the loss of civility. The light at the end of the tunnel, some supposed, was that after election, he would change. He didn’t, but America did.

One hundred days since Donald Trump took the oath of office, the United States has become a battleground. His legitimacy comes under constant contention through the mounting evidence of collusion between his campaign and Putin. Our ability to hold untarnished elections is suddenly in jeopardy. What remains troubling is that Trump’s base seems to give little credence to an adversarial foreign power interfering with our electoral process. The denial extends to a belief that criticism of Trump is fake news and that his incoherent and ever-changing positions are a strategy.

Trump’s popularity, although historically low, holds strong with his ardent supporters. Forgiving the ignorance and mendacity that Trump promotes and Trump voters endorse stains our national ethos.

This president has been a lightning rod of controversy. He has kept this country on edge — from 24 million possibly losing their health coverage to a possible nuclear confrontation with North Korea. This has not made America great but rather created an environment of distrust at home and abroad.

The fabric that holds our society together, from our court systems to the welcoming of people from wartorn countries, is shredding. Trump’s impulsive acts remind of what really did make America great — the strength to use thoughtful consideration when shaping domestic and foreign policy.

The founding fathers were men of deliberation who wished to create a society that honored truth and harvested facts from a ground planted in wisdom. This is the example they wished to set for the next generation and the generation to follow that one. The democracy they began is not frozen in time nor is it impervious to those who wish to deface it.

Normalization of the antics of the Trump presidency is a danger; it raises the concern that future leaders will not rebuke Trump and his sliding scale of ethics but embrace it. Will voters learn to accept mediocrity and unscrupulousness as the best we can do? That would be an indelible and permanent stain.



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