In the country of blind: Make America See Again
by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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03 Nov 2020

The past 4 years of Trump presidency would remain a case study for future generations in terms of the effects of highest seat of office being conferred on someone least prepared for it. The quote 'Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them' takes a chilling meaning, particularly with the last part, and even more importantly, when that greatness is thrust, not in the era monarchy when Shakespeare first coined this interesting saying, but during a modern democratic era, when people themselves, after carefully perusing the evidence presented to them, still choose to bestow the greatness (of the office) on a person who is.... simple minded, to put it mildly. For the question, why does the US Presidential campaign have to be such a long, drawn out painful affair lasting years at a time, when the rest of the world wraps the whole process up, start to finish, in less than a couple of months, the answer appears prescient in hindsight. Anyone aspiring to preside over an office that can decide the fate and direction of not just the country, but sometimes the world, and over generations at a time, better withstand the grueling glare of an unforgiving spotlight, unflinching, undeterred and strong in the convictions department. The person better not be bored by repeating the same things over and over, ad nauseam, mustering the same excitement and enthusiasm across a never ending schedule of campaign stops, wear a thick skin against a constant barrage of criticisms and take downs, and through all this, hold on to the set of values, beliefs and a vision for the world that compelled him/her to run for the office in the first place. The only other profession in the world that demands such high amounts of dedication and discipline in the face of never ending rigor, in the other lifesaving one, the medical profession. Ideally, the process should sift out the chaff, winnow out the less serious ones and bring forth a candidate who's forged by fire and ready to face the world. In that regard, Trump is definitely an exceptional candidate, in it, he took the road less traveled, vanquished his opponents not in the traditional ways and means of substance and policy but by rage and insult, captured the imagination of the electorate by bluster and bombast, and strangely, made the campaign more about himself than about the people he hoped to please. It is reasonable to say that people were more entertained by him than they were informed, and true to the present times, simply wanted more... and as luck would have it, got more than they bargained for.

To be fair to Trump, and to his legion of passionate acolytes, he wasn't a turncoat to his own professed (skewed) ideology. He called Mexicans 'drug dealers, criminals and rapists' during his campaign, purely for the shock value to begin with, but somehow held on to the same disdainful view of not just the Mexicans, but other Central American (and 'shithole' African) countries, throughout the length of his reign. He went beyond populism, nationalism and majoritarianism to fuse all of them into his brand of pure negativism, where the world is always in opposition of him, forever adversarial of his stands and perennially victimizing him for his positions. He didn't change his stands, his didn't waver in his decisions, he remained steadfast to his stances, both as a candidate and as the President. While it is arguable whether his convictions are guided by any kind of moral compass or an internal beacon of belief system, he ran on a platform and delivered from the same. In that regard, yeah, true, he wasn't a typical politician, whose weather vane is guided by the prevailing wind.

But that's the difference between a politician and an administrator. While as a politician, one can deal in absolutism, governance is all about relativism. Mexicans may all be 'drug dealers, criminals and rapists', but as a neighboring country, Mexico should be taken into confidence as an equal partner in the war on drugs or on illegal immigration. The alliances and friendships that the country has carefully cultivated, built and fostered over decades and centuries with other states through a painfully slow diplomatic dance cannot be forsaken upon citing inconsequential infractions and trivial accountancy entries (at that level), like what percentage Germany is forking over for NATO, trade imbalances with EU et al. That may be good politicking, but it is just bad governance, later when the same countries have to be taken into confidence over a multilateral measure on global scale, like terrorism or a pandemic. While all politicians who run for (any kind of) office wear the dual hats of politicians and administrators, using their discretion for when to switch to what, Trump's unilateralism, be it in his policy, profession or his personality, could not let him shift into the administrator gear to therefore permanently get stuck in the political gear, complaining, cribbing and constantly crying over what he perceived as very important issues - right from the crowd sizes for his inauguration (day 1 in office) down to the backlash on the gross mishandling of the pandemic (last day of his term) averaging at least one headline screaming scandal a day throughout the 4 year term. Surely, that's entertainment, to provide a never ending variety of 'engaging' fare, but whether it is governance.... to each his own.

Again, to his credit, Trump never claimed to be an administrator of any kind in all the four decades of a high profile life he has led in full public (tabloid, TV) view and if half of the voting bloc suddenly believed in his miraculous powers of governing and shepherding the country with a self-professed, however unsubstantiated, unverified, and undocumented, intellect, well, that's clearly not Trump's fault. ('Intellect' being used pretty loosely there. How much intellect can you attribute to the man who publicly expressed, with all the sincerity and seriousness, to date his daughter, had she not been his own seed!) What Trump did claim however was that he was a businessman with a great ability to do 'deals', because governing, in his view, is all about 'making deals'. Even that claim of being a successful businessman was debunked, with proofs, when majority of the businesses that he started went belly up, the millions of dollars he has sunk into in real estate went under without trace, and according to the latest reports, he owed close to half a billion dollars in debt to be realized in the upcoming years. A man can certainly lay claims about practically anything under the sky, until someone actually buys into those claims. So who is more at fault here, Trump or the electorate?

A politician is always a product of his times. When times are such, when people crave for the simple (watch than read, be entertained than informed, burn down than build up, aggrieve than accommodate), it is only natural that one day the lightest among them would rise to the top on a broader appeal of being more relatable to them. Trump is the epitome of simpleton-ness. His ego, narcissism, lack of empathy and his compulsive nature to not be able to out things past himself, given ANY situation, all stem from this simplemindedness, a child-like absolutism with an inability to understand, grasp or appreciate the nuance (Reports that he would only look at the daily intelligence briefings that span a few pages, or quickly lose interest, unless his name is peppered through the report in every other sentence, is simplicity at its best/worst). His statements, stands, speeches all reflect the same underlying philosophy : what's in it for/about me?

America goes to the polls once again. 4 years have passed since people first started accepting Facebook as a legitimate news source, giving ones who wanted to spread disinformation and disrupt the normal electoral process a direct access to the (gullible) people's minds. Whether people have grown wiser, wearier or dumber even, during these times, the results would show. For, in the country of the blind, it is unreasonable to expect the enlightened to rise up.

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Other cricket related articles by Srinivasa Kanchibhotla
Cricket: Double Negative

The old world order
Cricket: let heads roll
For whom the bell tolls

A Boy - Sachin Tendulkar

Bend around the circle

All in the game

Play it again Sam
Wizard of Willow - VVS Laxman
A beautiful mind - Rahul Dravid
Business as usual
Vote of Thanx
Bittersweet story
The I's and The T's
Means and extremes
Fair Play
Game Changing Game
What's in a win?
The shining silver lining
Winds of change
Battle of the Bamboozler
Less is more
Hit and run
Tales from down under
The three sides of a coin
Blast from the past
The other side of a win
Finding Neverland
Hail The Weaklings
Bringing down the house
Every (under)dog had it's day!
Lord of the ring: Return of the King
Lord of the ring - the departed part - 2
Lord of the ring - the departed part - 1
Lord of the ring - twin towers

Game is on
What's in a number?
Roll out the carpet... the green variety that is
Garland the ground staff
How the west was won
A time for Reversal
The sands that blotted sweat and blood
Let the good times roll
The curse of success
It's Official....
Win some, some more
All is well
Expect the unexpected
From the Ashes, it rose!
It is progress ... DAMN IT!!!
Ghosts of Chinnaswamy
Congratulation Message to Indian Cricket Team
Resumption of ties
Rock, rock, rock it again!
Tour full of negatives
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