Juan Verde / Eduardo Ramos
Paul Éluard said that it is in our heroes that the most beautiful dreams of tomorrow are found. If there is a country that can be recognized in this phrase, it is the United States. A country that has been built from its milestones, or myths, such as the Mayflower or the War of Independence; but that in the epic and poetics of its heroes, ancient and modern, and in its reverential sense toward them, has extraordinarily cemented its union and its most beautiful dreams of tomorrow.
On August 25, 2018, with the death of John McCain, considered a hero of the Vietnam War, this feeling was broken. The funeral of the Republican Senator was attended by former presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, where both Republicans and Democrats paid tribute to him. Donald Trump, who considered John McCain his intimate enemy because the latter was openly critical of his administration, did not attend, breaking one of the rules on which the idiosyncrasy and collective imagination of Americans rest: their heroes are sacred. Moreover, the leader of the Republican Party did not consider him a hero because he had been captured during the war. Perhaps this statement is the best portrait of the most powerful person in the world. For there is no better testimony of who Trump is than his own words and behaviour.
This unprecedented performance reveals how far the American president has come and can go. Everything that seemed stable, unquestionable, and an indelible sign of the greatness of the soul of the American people has been delegitimized by Trump; or at least he has tried to do so at the whim of his interests and moods. A kind of exterminating revisionism whose aim is to depredate the system and its institutions at his convenience.
Hence his mandate has been characterized by the absence of moral rules and chaos, by the rule of ‘anything goes’. But also by noise and fury. He has not hesitated, in this sense, to throw more fuel on the fire in the racial conflicts of the last year if he thought it could serve to mobilize his voter base. And no doubt he will question, whether he can, a possible Democratic victory, once again putting the system and the country in check before the abyss.
Because Trump’s natural state is conflict and confrontation. That’s where he wins because that’s his very nature: noise and fury. And he has used them to connect with the emotions of a part of the American people, primarily white and working class, who are angry and have felt abandoned by the system. He has understood this fact better than anyone, and he has not hesitated to use it even though it has meant a moral breakdown and an unprecedented social division in the country.
It is ironic to think that many of these Americans consider this president, billionaire and tax evader, to be one of their own. And that they also confuse this noise and fury with strength and firmness, when there is only impulsiveness and irrationality behind his actions, a fact that translates into a nation’s politics governed exclusively by the president’s emotions and erratic behaviour.
If, as the forecasts eventually indicate, Biden arrives at the White House, he will have to face extraordinary challenges for the future of humanity, such as the return to the Treaty of Paris to fight climate change, the defense of freedoms and liberal democracy, or the reconstruction of foreign policy to renew the battered alliance with Europe, the latter being the key to meeting these challenges.
But perhaps Biden’s greatest challenge will be to leave behind this stage of noise and fury, which has exhausted and sickened a good part of the American citizenry, and to rehabilitate all the intangible heritage that has made the American people great. The Democratic candidate, if the predictions are true, will have to heal the social fracture and be the leader of all. A leadership that learns from the past and exercises self-criticism to understand what has gone wrong in the system, and in the two main political parties, so that an amoral outsider has reached the Presidency and has tried to destroy everything that constitutes the best of American people’s soul.
Paradoxically, Trump’s mandate and person have represented the opposite of his ‘America Great Again’ slogan: there is no honour, dignity and greatness in him, nor of course are the most beautiful dreams of tomorrow.
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