THE New Year started three weeks ago, but this week feels like the real beginning of the year. Yes, the calendar started on January 1, but, like the daffodils sprouting first leaves in my flowerbed, it was obscured by weeds. So, Janus-like, let’s look back and look forward.
Looking back, we see Donald J. Trump declaring that the presidential election in the US was a fraud before it began and has been shouting “Fraud!” ever since. There may have been one or two people in a remote Pacific island who were surprised by this, but anyone following Donald Trump will know that he began his “fraud election” claim even before he entered politics.
When Barack Obama was declared the winner of the US presidential race in 2012, Trump denounced his election as “a total sham” and a “travesty”. Not just that, but the election of Obama meant the US was no longer a democracy. And back then too, his Twitter finger was itchy: “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!” He even tried to whip up violence among the discontented in the US. “Fight like hell,” the Orange One told them, “and stop this great and disgusting injustice – the world is laughing at us.” This, remember, in 2012.
Maybe people back then should have stopped laughing at Trump and seen what a danger he was. In 2016, you’ll remember, before he was nominated the Republican candidate, he lost in Iowa to fellow-Republican Ted Cruz. Trump’s Twitter reaction: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!”
Even when he got the nomination he was still shouting foul: “The [Presidential] election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD.” And when he beat Hillary, he was still wouldn't shut up: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide. I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” No wonder that last week the Museum of London added the giant balloon of Trump as a screaming orange baby to its collection. And no wonder Irish-American Niall O’Dowd’s judgement on him was “The guy’s a nut-job.”
There are those who say that Trump isn’t going anywhere, that he’ll be around and will run again in the 2024 election. Maybe. But the important thing is he won’t be in the White House for the next four years and he won’t be near that scary suitcase with the nuclear code in it.
And what of Biden? As Irish people, we naturally look favourably on him because he has emphasised his Irishness, has added his voice to that of other Irish-Americans who told Boris Johnson and company to not even think of reintroducing a land border in Ireland. And now Biden’s cabinet will hold a range of Irish-Americans. And who could forget his “BBC? I’m Irish!” to the BBC reporter looking for a quote. The guy’s on our side.
But will it all be too much for a man in his late-70s? Not if his present timetable is anything to go by. He’s going to rejoin the World Health Organisation, rejoin the Paris Climate accord, rescind laws aimed at keeping Muslims from entering the US – not some time in the coming weeks but right away. Biden will still face Everest-sized problems: Covid, the US economy, the US health service.
But sometimes, as with Franklin D Roosevelt, the size of the problem gives birth to radical thought and bold action. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that Sleepy Joe is going to send a voltage charge of renewal surging through the American system. Bail ó Dhia ar an obair – God bless the work.