Right from the very beginning, Donald Trump’s presidency was, perhaps, the most unpopular within and outside the USA. The world was wishing the presidency to expressively finish without an ugly incident and a chance for a second term. True to type, President Trump did not disappoint those who felt this time around America would be led by a tough-talking, fearless, controversial, dogged, and decisive personality.
Trump’s presidency stirred controversy from the time he ascended to power till the end. Within 24 hours of taking over the mantle of leadership, Trump’s cabinet members accused the media of framing photographs of the inauguration in a way that appeared to understate the crowd size. The media was accused of “shameful reporting”. On January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration, hundreds of thousands of women crammed the streets of Washington to demonstrate their opposition to Trump’s presidency. Seven days after the inauguration, Trump signed an executive order “Muslim ban” banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from traveling to the United States. The ban elicited massive protests opposing the policy.
Within a few months, Trump ignited a political firestorm when he sacked Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, who had been leading an investigation into possible collusion by Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign with Russia to influence the election outcome. Russia denied meddling in the election and Trump denied any collusion, the matter had to be rested. However, Trump moved from one controversy to the other within and outside his country and engaged in a war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over its missile program, exchanged insults and threats. Somehow, the world was saved from the trauma and consequences of having the two countries engaging each other militarily and the two leaders were able to meet physically for settlement. Trump’s controversy was extended to Nigeria when President Muhammadu Buhari visited the White House, Trump referred to Nigeria alongside other African countries as “shithole” countries and asserted, “We have had very serious problems with Christians who are being murdered in Nigeria, we are going to be working on that problem very, very hard because we cannot allow that to happen.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43964932.
The most damaging controversy of Trump’s presidency is his inclination to racism, the so-called white supremacy. Trump accused immigrants of all of the American problems and openly incited racism against blacks and coloured people. His utterances during the 2016 campaign energized far-right groups as he made harsh attacks on immigrants, Muslims, liberals, and the idea of America as a collaborative participant in international diplomacy and trade. He embraced what are sometimes called “white grievance” politics, attracting large numbers of white voters, most frequently men, who believed that they themselves had been the victims of racial discrimination. He detested the Left-wing and Liberals in all ramifications.
Trump was a darling of far-right extremists known for hate speech and conspiracy theories openly flashing white-power signs. Thus, white nationalist and far-right extremist groups have frequently viewed Trump’s racist, xenophobic rhetoric as a source of encouragement to unleash racist activities. Trump’s continuous support to far-right extremists and incessant drama on several issues on every front made him lose massive support from large groups of voters; women groups, liberals, left wings, and the likes. His defeat in the 2020 election was predicted about a year before the election.
The oddity of Trump’s conduct in the White House made his presidency acquire the largest turnover of officials in the cabinet who resigned (the majority) or dismissed. It was all through, a kind of “the turmoil of the presidency”. Several Trump appointees, including National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned their appointments and had the shortest service tenures in the history of their respective offices. The latest series of resignations from the Trump presidency happened less than 20 days to the inauguration of the newly elected President, Joe Biden who defeated President Trump. The resignations were the result of the Capitol violence, which was incited by President Trump. Among the key officials who resigned were the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney, and a few others. Additionally, five National Security Council officials resigned instantly. They all resigned because Trump failed to accept defeat and thus, incited his supporters who went berserk and attacked the Congress members. The incitement made the Congress members impeach President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection”. It was the second impeachment of President Trump.
The Trump presidency brought out the beauty of democracy. Obviously, in the year 2016, the Americans made a mistake in bringing Donald Trump to the White House as he proved to be un-presidential and had no business being the president of a great country. In 2020, they corrected their mistake by voting him out of office.
We, in Nigeria, can learn two important lessons from Trump’s tragic presidency. When an elected personality is messing up, we must unite to remove or deny such personality the opportunity to represent us at any elective office.
The second lesson is for the appointees of an elected personality. An appointee should sincerely appreciate his/her principal for the opportunity to serve the nation. However, the interest of the nation (through a carefully planned program) should be of paramount importance to such an appointee and must do everything possible to achieve such an objective.
When the principal is digressing from the nation-building program, the appointee has the responsibility of correcting such digression without confrontation. However, if the nation-building program is jettisoned for a parochial and self-serving program, the appointee should resign henceforth. Making a good legacy through good governance should be the guiding principle for both elected personalities and their appointees.