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January 19, 2021

Trump’s legacy

Opinion

January 19, 2021

At noon on January 20 the presidency of Donald Trump will have come to an end and this one-term, twice-impeached president will be gone.

From the day he launched his campaign in 2015, it was clear he was going to be an unconventional president, the likes of which the country hadn't seen. He launched his candidacy with a hateful tirade against Mexican immigrants and promised to ban the entry of all Muslims. He repeatedly attacked the media when he felt they were not sufficiently supportive of him. Yet, it was felt that, should he win, the honor and prestige of the office would moderate him.

Now almost five years later, we know such moderation was never in his character. Very soon his many other character flaws came to light. While to some extent all politicians bend the truth, Donald Trump told more than 30,000 documented lies.

Many of his lies were so easily disproved, even inconsequential, that one wondered if he had a pathological problem stating the truth. For example, when he announced that a certain storm would threaten the state of Alabama and was told the Department of Meteorology did not expect the storm to reach Alabama. Instead of correcting his error, he forced the government

department to change their forecast.

More than a dozen of his associates and collaborators were convicted for a range of crimes – from lying to the FBI, to tampering with witnesses to financial fraud. Trump simply went ahead and pardoned them. In fact, being a close associate of Trump pretty much ensured a ‘get-out-of jail-free’ card from the president, no matter how serious the crime.

The list of inappropriate, even lawless, behavior by Trump is long and surely will be subject of study for years. While he lied repeatedly throughout his presidency, his biggest lie came in the aftermath of the 2020 elections. When it became clear he had lost the election, Trump simply refused to accept the results. “I won by a landslide” was his often-repeated statement, revving up his millions of Twitter followers through incendiary tweets.

Finally, his repeated lies about a ‘rigged’ election and subsequent incitement led to an attack on US Congress by a violent mob of thousands of Trump supporters on January 6, leading to the deaths of five, and the desecration of the halls of Congress. The mob came within a minute or two of attacking members of Congress before the latter were whisked away.

The state of security in the country is now dismal. Over 20,000 national guard troops have been positioned in the center of Washington DC to defend against possible armed attacks by Trump loyalists against Joe Biden’s inauguration that will take place tomorrow. Donald Trump has shaken the foundations of US democracy in more ways than one can list. No president in the last century has left the country in worse shape.

The economy is struggling due to the pandemic that Trump mishandled. Over 3,000 are dying every day and the total US Covid-19 death toll has reached 400,000. Through all of this, millions of die-hard Trump supporters have stuck with him – believing every lie he has told, raising serious questions about how a corrupt man with fascist tendencies was able to create such a cult following.

Into this scene are stepping Joe Biden and his administration -- a collection of highly competent and experienced people. The country is placing their faith in their ability to undo quickly the many wrongs of the past four years. But the damage done by Trump to the very fabric of US society will take a very long time to repair.

The writer is a freelance contributor based in Washington DC. Website: www.sqshareef.com/blogs