President Joe Biden is the total opposite of Donald Trump. Biden is deliberate, easy going, doesn’t Tweet, thinks about what he says and has his ego well under control.
In fact, it’s not hard to argue that a majority of U.S. voters backed him precisely because he was so different from Trump. His style of governing has undoubtedly calmed down the United States.
We no longer wake up every morning anguished, waiting to see what Trump Tweeted overnight from the White House. It is good that the start of World War III does not depend on Trump.
Biden’s way of governing is classic, institutional, structured. He is a typical president, what you imagine when you think of a leader of the United States. Biden’s equanimity and emotional balance, however, do not generate huge headlines or chatter on social networks. Biden is Biden, and there are no surprises
But trouble is coming for the president and the Democrats. To keep it short, there are enormous pressures to counter the Russian expansion in Europe and invasion of Ukraine. That’s on top of the chaotic and embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan. On the national front, we’re approaching 1 million dead from the pandemic, inflation is eating our lunch, there’s nothing that looks like an immigration reform, Congress is paralyzed, the country is ideologically split in half and one poll says there’s little enthusiasm for the future. Only 41 percent of young people – 18 to 29 years old – approve of Biden’s performance so far.
And Donald Trump could take advantage of all that to seek the presidency in 2024. Ironically, Trump could campaign on the slogan, “Vote for me. I am not Biden.”
The problem with Trump is that he lies a lot, has made grave racist comments and is a threat to US democracy. That’s all.
Let’s take it step by step. Trump is the principal promoter of what is known in the United States as “the big lie.” That means to claim, wrongly, that the most recent elections were fraudulent and the true winner was Trump.
Trump is a loser. But he cannot admit that. Psychologically, he rejects anything that goes against his vision of the world. Last June, I saw Trump at an event near the border in Weslaco, Texas. And I asked him, “Will you finally admit you lost the elections?” He looked at me directly and replied, “We won the elections.”
That is the best example of how Trump lies. He looks in your eyes and lies to your face. What we will never know is whether he believes his own lies. But lies have consequences. The biggest Trump danger are his attacks on the very system of democracy that allowed him to launch his candidacy and become president. Just a few days ago, he left an interview when journalist Piers Morgan told him he had lost the election.
There is not the slightest doubt that he instigated thousands of protesters to go to the Capitol building in Washington on Jan. 6 2021. “Walk down to the Capitol,” he told them in a speech in front of the White House. “Because you will never take back our country with weakness.” That is a clear definition of incitement to insurrection. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots,” he tweeted that afternoon, before urging his supporters to leave the Capitol. “Remember this day forever.” We will remember it. Five people died that day.
And that’s not all. Trump, frustrated, wanted Vice President Mike Pence to annul the results of the elections. “Unfortunately, he did not exercise his authority,” Trump said in January, publicly admitting for the first time the pressures he put on his vice president. “He could have overturned the results of the elections.” Pence in fact never had that authority. “President Trump is wrong,” he said in February. “I had no right to overturn the election.” He added the harshest criticism I have ever heard Pence make of his old boss: “Frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.” That is precisely what Trump wanted to do, to appoint himself president for four more years. In Latin America, we call that a coup.
Trump is not only a danger to democracy and a big liar – he lied more than 30,000 times during his presidency, according to a Washington Post tally – but has said horrible things. His racist comments are piling up, from saying that Mexican immigrants were “criminals” and “rapists” to alleging that Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not be impartial because of his “Mexican heritage.” And there’s much more.
That is the Trump – venomous in his words, a liar and promoter of an insurrection – that could return to the White House in three years. The Congressional investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection is ongoing. We will soon know everything he did to remain in the presidency illegally.
Meanwhile, the damage has been done. Polls show 12 million Republicans swallowed Trump’s lies and believe Biden is an illegitimate president. That is, sadly, the same conversation we have had in some Latin American countries for decades. To be truthful, I never imagined that would also happen in the United States.
It is true, the system worked. Trump lost and Biden is in the White House. But there’s no guarantee it will always function. That’s why we must resist the authoritarian attempts by Trump. The future of the country depends on it.
For democracy to survive and strengthen in the United States, those who put it in danger must be punished. Several of the protesters who sparked the attack on the Capitol already have been charged and sentenced. But nothing has happened to Trump. The future of the country depends, without exaggeration, on forcing the intellectual author of the insurrection to answer for and accept responsibility for his attacks on a system that has functioned for more than two centuries. Until that happens, peace will not return to the United States.