US President Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial last week after a perplexing political saga that may have been the most dramatic ever in the history of partisan politics in the US.
The American people and, most likely, political commentators across the world, watched the implementation of the US Constitutional article that allows for the impeachment of the president of the republic, as laid down by the founding fathers at the end of the 18th century.
The leaders of the Democratic Party in Congress had launched a tremendous campaign to impeach Trump before he was even sworn in and after the traumatic political shock of his win in the 2016 presidential elections.
For the last three years of Trump’s presidency, he has been labelled in the most hostile terms by his opponents, who have made accusations of treason, abuse of power, lying, and even dictatorship. However, Trump emerged defiant from these accusations and from his impeachment trial, going on to address nearly all the major issues of politics in the local and international arenas.
In most, if not all of the tough issues he has had to tackle, or has decided to deal with, Trump has emerged the winner. Maybe that is why the word “win” has been his most used word on Twitter, Trump’s favourite means of communication. His biggest win of not guilty in the Senate impeachment trial was a remarkable event in the present political turmoil in the US.
Although the Democrats had lined up to “stain Trump’s presidency” by impeaching him, they failed to challenge his achievements in the economy at large. It was always puzzling that none of the Democrat members of Congress or the anti-Trump media outlets in the US tried to refute the positive economic indicators that had come from the Trump-induced economic boom.
The Democrats are not in a strong position to win the next presidential elections as a result, either in the traditionally Republican states or the swing ones. The dismaying showdown of the trial, the overall reactions of the impeachment managers, and the shocking shredding of Trump’s State of the Union speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week only added to the sense of gloomy defeat among Democrats in the US.
The media covering the trial, especially those called the providers of “fake news” by Trump, were the most frustrated party in the alliance against him.
After the resounding defeat of the Democrats in their campaign to bring down Trump over the last three years, they are turning to the challenge of finding a candidate who can defeat Trump in the forthcoming US presidential elections. The traditional process of voting for the party’s candidate in the elections, which began in Iowa, has been so chaotic that the contenders cannot help but show their anger.
Trumpism, on the pattern of Reaganism in the 1980s, will be a synonym for Trump’s presidency, even if he does not win another term. Trump has succeeded in shaking up many of the paradigms relating to major political, economic and social domains on both the national and international stages.
All US presidents, Republican or Democrat, before Trump were members of the political establishment in the US. But Trump was almost an outsider and a businessman hardly known to the Washington political community. He was not only looked at as an outsider, but was also received in an unfriendly manner due to his blunt criticisms of the political establishment, calling it a group of do-nothing politicians who simply wasted people’s money. As a result, his initial approach to the Republican Party was not welcome, but when he threatened to stand in the presidential elections as an independent the party yielded.
On the international stage, Trump has been adamant about rejecting the very concept of globalisation, articulating his motto “America First” and pledging to revoke once-hailed political agreements with allies and adversaries alike.
On the national stage, he has undertaken measures to apply tax cuts to big business. He has been fortunate that the business community in the US has not let him down, investing more and giving him the economic boosts of more jobs for Americans and a reduction of the US unemployment rate to a record low over the last three decades.
In a similar daring confrontation with regional and international economic and trade agreements, Trump has managed to fulfill most of his campaign pledges, particularly with China and US neighbours Canada and Mexico. He has succeeded in reaching positive outcomes for the American economy by restoring power to the negotiations.
As for the social domain, Trump has fared extremely well. A conservative and a business tycoon, he appeals to a large segment of the American people. Supported by the evangelical community, the far-right, and above all because of his positive record on the economy, Trump has extended his appeal to ever-larger segments of the American people. His approval rating has reached a record high, even with the impeachment trial ongoing.
Finally, some specific characteristics of this president might seem to be contradictory. In his recent State of the Union address, delivered just a few hours before the final vote on the impeachment in the Senate, Trump was so sure of his acquittal and so keen to boast of his achievements over the last three years that he wooed the strong support and encouragement of his party’s leaders in Congress regardless of the silent disapproval of the Democrats and the shredding of his speech by Pelosi.
I was deeply impressed by the clever presentation of the speech, especially the scenes of the freedom medal, the granting of a scholarship to a young African-American girl, and the sudden appearance of a soldier and his family. But I was even more impressed by Trump’s eloquent and proud closing words in describing the current and future state of America.
*The writer is a member of the Egyptian European Council.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 13 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.