From The Irish News: 22 February 2019
t’s hard to disagree with Bernie Sanders’ assertion that Donald Trump is the most dangerous president in American history.
In the few years that he has been in office, the president has displayed a wilful disregard for good governance. And he has played fast and loose with his allies abroad, while flirting with dictators.
Trump behaves like a medieval monarch whose power was bestowed by divine right. He believes that because he thinks and says something, it must be true.
The former reality television star has not yet mastered the art of statecraft, instead he prefers to govern by tweet. And he deploys all the tricks of the dictator to maintain office.
He whips up his supporters by creating imaginary threats – from the media, the ‘liberal elite’, and from immigrants.
He is quite happy to trample over the weak, and poor and the dispossessed to get what he wants. And he is a professional liar who has debased the office he holds.
It is in the interests of the United States to dispose of this presidency with as much speed as possible.
There are fantasists who hope he might be toppled by the constitutional amendment that allows for the replacement of a president who has lost the capacity to govern. (As he so clearly has.)
Others believe the House of Representatives, controlled now by the Democrats, should pursue impeachment.
But neither is a satisfactory solution to ‘The Donald Problem’. Deposing him would put leadership of the free world in the hands of Trump’s incompetent vice president, Mike Pence.
And impeachment will not work without the acquiescence of the Republican-controlled Senate, and that isn’t going to happen.
The best way the United States can begin to heal the wounds inflicted by Trump is for him to be dispatched by the electorate – to be forced to endure the humiliation of being a one-term president.
Which brings us back to Bernie Sanders, and his announcement this week that he is to seek the Democratic nomination to stand for president.
If anyone qualifies for the title ‘elder statesman’ it is Sanders. Now 77, he has been for long a lone voice in Congress advocating progressive policies that make the Democrats go pale, and the Republicans apoplectic.
He is the closest to what passes for a socialist in Congress.
It is precisely because he stands apart from the mainstream that he is such an attractive candidate – in spite of his age.
His candidacy in 2016 galvanised young people fed up with machine party politics, but then he was the outsider – fighting not just Trump but Hillary Clinton, and all that she had come to represent: privilege, big government, special interests.
There is no question that his performance was remarkable, astounding critics who had long written him off as an out-of-touch do-gooder.
Trump and all he stands for was Sanders’ primary target; but the damage inflicted by his campaign was felt primarily by Clinton. While there were times she did not help herself, the internecine warfare on the left gave Trump enough of a gap to squeeze through.
She may have won the popular vote by three million, but Sanders’ candidacy, and the real damage he inflicted on her through the primaries, robbed her of the arcane electoral college votes she needed.
This time around he has pledged ‘we will win’. A bold statement. But would America entrust the future of the nation to a man approaching his eighties, with an agenda many of them see as something akin to communism. (It’s not.)
The truth of the matter is that the people he engaged in 2016 need a new champion, from a generation that will be able to see through transformative policies to tackle the big issues of today: climate change, the destruction of the earth’s delicate ecosystem, gross inequality and poverty, and systemic injustice in a world where the haves want it all.
For Trump a second term is crucial. He has played so much golf and watched so much television that he hasn’t yet been able to achieve much. He is unquestionably the laziest president in modern times.
For the sake of the world he needs to spend more time on the golf course. But Bernie Sanders is not the man to hand him his driver or pick his putter. Sanders may be a strong candidate, but would not make the best nominee.