Donald Trump and the Theater of Boxing
I have to confess – I’m not normally a politics kind of guy.
Having become increasingly disillusioned with the machinations of the UK political landscape, politics in and of itself is something I tend to carefully tip-toe around whenever possible. The rare times I do ever indulge in it is if there are ongoing news or issues which are relevant firstly to me, secondly to those in my vicinity and thirdly, for the greater good. I think I’m correct in bracketing most people into these sentiments, and if they were able to shut their eyes at the constant politicisation of everything and live a peaceful life, people would take that.
But I found it paradoxically bizarre and fascinating how the USA elections which just passed us earlier in the month were so much like … boxing. As an avid observer on this side of the Atlantic, the parallelisms were uncanny.
A fast 13-4 lead for Trump? Up 3 rounds to nothing. Biden slowly making up ground in the latter portion of the night? That’s bodywork invested in the middle rounds. A super tight election race? We’ve seen that via split decisions. An awkwardly long delay in waiting for a judgement to arrive? We’ve waited on those damn judges’ scorecards too. The cry and howls of theft and robbery? Almost every fight week a poor soul is on the L end of a questionable decision. Election fraud? Conspiracy theories? Court cases? Those are politics’ answer to “spiked my water,” “my suit was too heavy” and “he ran.”A refusal to accept the results as final? Appeals, protestations, lawsuits, threats etc – I swear I was ringside again. The only thing absent was the fact it wasn’t on PPV for $60 a pop.
But in the end we got there even if the fallout has been pyroclastic since.
Joe Biden, described as former President Barack Obama as “the scrappy kid from Scranton”, was able to walk away with American politics’ biggest W with a clean left hook that arrived late in the fight and scored Philadelphia. Sleepy Joe? No, this was classic ‘Smokin’.
Biden has to date, served over 50 years in the political sphere before making history as the oldest president elect in the history of the USA. That kind of duration is basically “Dillian Whyte waiting for a WBC title shot” levels. But patience is a virtue and after years of persistence and tragedy and fortitude, the public have entrusted Biden to lead America back to her former greatness.
Which will no doubt stir the ire of his fallen foe, the man who himself promised to Make America Great Again – Donald J Trump. The so-called mogul and one-term President, who anointed himself as pound for pound king while the nation under his watch flails in a COVID quagmire, has violently lashed out in the aftermath of his defeat. He's citing fake ballots, fake votes, fake winner, fake results, fake reality, fake everything. In Trump’s dystopia, nothing is ever real because the only thing ever real is him – and his hair. He has since retreated to his safe haven of Twitter, relentlessly firing insults and objections with the stamina of Sugar Ray Leonard in the championship rounds. His supporters love it. The other half shake their head at his delusion.
Trump’s reign at the top could only be described as explosive. And boy was he ever President Dynamite. He did a number of good things such as pardoning Jack Johnson and putting even more money into the accounts of the 1%, thereby helping them to become richer than rich by affording them advantageous tax breaks. He enacted the Space Force, the first new military service since 1947, signed the First Step Act in 2018 and proudly told everyone he defeated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
But he almost kick started a nuclear superfight with Iran, refused to delegitimise the increasing rise of far right white supremacist/nationalist groups in the wake of Charlottesville and George Floyd‘s execution, introduced into modern lexicon “fake news”, handled the coronavirus crisis with a level of ineptitude that only the UK could rival, squared up against China, changed the capital of Israel to Jerusalem, remained silent at the murder of Jamal Khoshoggi, saw 6 of his advisors plead guilty to criminal charges, was hit with impeachment charges, began the construction of a wall between the States and Mexico and lied for five years that Mexico would pay for the construction and picked a fight with almost every single breathing organism he came into contact with, from John McCain to Lady Gaga to LeBron James.
Whilst such bellicosity and machismo are traits adored in a boxing ring and by the Republicans, picking a fight with everyone in the political sphere isn’t just reckless – it’s dangerous. His downfall–which still has to play out, because he's refusing to concede to cold hard numbers–ultimately was his arrogance, his ego, his pride of always having to engage in fisticuffs at every possible opportunity just to flex his muscles and cry when things weren’t going his way. He needed to tame the temperature of the pressure cooker a bit and cherry pick his fights rather than going in face first and hands down.
For the Blue half, the Trump era was the modern day Great Depression. For the Red half, it was the dawning of a glorious rebellion. For the rest of the world, America became the most watched circus, a complete sideshow of hysteria and comedy. America’s global image has never been more tarnished. Trump and Biden were the two best combatants which politics and the public believed were fit and suitable to dance under the bright lights. There are many who remain steadfast that even with Biden winning, this past election was the one that shamed America. That’s probably why Sacha Baron Cohen routinely flies to the States just to take the piss out of it. Who can really blame him?
A wise man once said “men lie, women lie but numbers don’t.” Over 73 million Americans voted for Trump in spite of everything that went wrong during his reign. That’s roughly 73 million plus living examples of tangible, numerical evidence highlighting that this race was not only razor close but a tremendous level of support remains intact, further evidenced by a stable approval rating.
It wouldn’t be illogical to suggest that in an alternative reality where the coronavirus doesn’t exist, Trump could very well have retained the Presidency. He wouldn’t have had the blood stains of over 237,000 dead Americans on his hands. Nor the historic failure of mishandling such a crisis. He wouldn’t have had the negligence embedded of overseeing 6.3 million confirmed cases, nor the comments of downplaying the severity of the illness. Nor the footage of him dancing with the dexterity of a walrus on crack gyrating to the strains of “YMCA,” all the while millions of Americans lay in hospital beds, dealt with long-term affects of the virus even after being released from the hospital or deal with anxiety of wondering if they have been infected because Team Trump never worked to get a comprehensive rapid testing plan in place. Meanwhile, Trump displays not a scintilla of empathy and brags that he's like a “Superman,” for how fast he “beat” COVID.
Neither did he display a thimble of insight into self or the psyches of the average citizen by trying to sooth the fevered brows of a beaten-down citizenry, by showing that he has an actual heart and soul, by displaying sorrow at the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to the virus. The specter of ruthless thug Wladimir Putin loomed over Trump, who defended the Russian strongman over this nation's own intelligence community.
Biden nicking a split decision over Trump was probably the second-best result Trump and his base could have hoped for after a Trump victory. He’s not going down without fighting. This is a man lest we forget whose temperament refuses to accept reality, nevermind acknowledge defeat. He’ll be back in 2024 no doubt, if his luck at avoiding indictment and prosecution for tax evasion and/or money laundering, for the most anticipated rematch of all time in American politics history.
Trump’s shadow remains cloaked over the US, a damning reminder of the controversial legacy he leaves whilst providing hope for his supporters that their saviour will return. We will be here again in another 4 years, watching Trump campaigning and rallying but with updated invectives and rhetoric. Expect a bolder approach, an even more ruthless application of his proposed policies and probably updated hats saying “Make America Great Again Again.”
But before the most anticipated sequel of all time comes into fruition, Biden and his office have a hell of a lot of work to do. In the immediacy, he needs to restore domestic credibility by coming up with a plan on tackling the coronavirus safely. The Democrats also need to tackle the ever-growing threat of climate change as well as ensuring the country’s economic situation improves. The Biden admin need to also repair traditional relationships with key international allies and find a way to ensure his foreign policies don’t drag the USA into another unneeded war. He has repeatedly stated he wishes to negotiate a 2 state solution in order to solve the hostilities raging in the East between Israel and Palestine. This is in sharp contradiction to what his VP Kamala Harris wants, she has numerous times publicly expressed support and sympathy for Israel alone, even so far as declaring a desire to invest billions of dollars towards Israel’s military. Biden must tackle such foreign policies delicately and as balanced a manner as possible, for failure to do so risks a tremendous backlash, in particular in the States and the West for failure to negotiate a peaceful settlement.
Biden is at heart a good man. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said a few year ago of Biden: “If you can't admire Joe Biden as a person then probably you've got a problem, you need to do some self-evaluation….He is as good a man as God ever created.”
He has overcome deep personal tragedy to get to this point in his life. Described by his peers as empathetic, caring and a family man, the eyes of the world will be watching him. No pair of eyes more intently than Trump’s, forever the grim reaper, behind his tiny Twitter keyboard, waiting in the shadows, ready to pounce at even the most miniscule mistake the Biden administration will make.
The battle may be lost but the war has just begun.