Short stories, Travel and Health Information
I remember that time many years ago when I first learned to play this strange card game called Bridge.
I was musing recently about what I was told by my Bridge teacher. He was actually one of my batchmates at varsity who spent more time in the canteen playing card games than he did at lectures – and ended up becoming far more financially successful in his career than the rest of us did!
“Machang” he used to say “ you cannot get very far playing bridge if you don’t learn to decode these strange phrases ‘Trumps’ and ‘No Trumps’.”
“When you play bridge, at the commencement of each hand all four players agree after bidding among themselves, what the dominant suit for that particular hand is going to be – spades, hearts, diamonds or clubs. During that hand, playing a card belonging to the dominant suit (called a Trump card) will automatically win the trick for you.”
“Before you commence playing that hand, your bidding determines whether that hand will be played under a ‘Trump’ contract (when cards of the Trump suit will be able to dominate and over-rule all the other cards) or in a ‘No Trump’ contract (where no particular suit will be designated as dominant over the other suits)”.
During this month of November I have been thinking a lot about the shenanigans currently going on in the United States, as the American electorate tries to make up its mind whether to go with the current Trumps or to establish a No Trumps era.
As I sit at my computer writing this, America has still not been able to decide what the outcome of its election is! This is the nation that thinks of itself as the so-called ‘Land of the Free and Home of the Brave’, arguably the most powerful military power and one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Three weeks after polling day, this self-appointed bastion of Democracy and champion of the Free World remains in a limbo of indecision as to who will be its leader for the next four years.
Those of us who were taught what Grantland Rice wrote, that it matters “…not that you won or lost, but how you played the game!” expect politicians to behave with honour and decency. As happens in civilised countries like Sri Lanka and Great Britain, when an election is over, the candidate who received less votes acknowledges the fact and concedes defeat, allowing the winner to get on with the process of preparing to govern.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump has — at the time of going to press this weekend — not yet conceded defeat. He has not accepted the fact that he has lost the election, nor has he had the grace to congratulate his successor and help ease the transition for Joe Biden. Like a spoilt child who has lost a game of cricket, he has simply said “You did not win! I won — and if you don’t admit that I beat you, I am taking my ball and bat and going home!”
Donald Trump came into office completely unprepared for the task of being president. Instead of being awed by the responsibility of his office, he failed to take it seriously. He filled his administration with family members, sycophants and mediocrities whose only qualification was loyalty to himself.
There is a famous speech by the Roman statesman Cicero who a thousand years ago said “Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed him and adored him, rejoicing in their loss of freedom, dancing in his path and giving him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks.”
Cicero could well have been speaking about Trump!
During the election campaign, both Trump and Biden referred to this election as a fight for the “soul” of America. If that is so, Trump’s better-than-expected performance has shown the rest of the world what the soul of America is really like.
Donald Trump starred in his own TV reality show for 14 years — and after he became president he converted the presidential press briefings into just another stage for his own political reality show. He has failed to denounce white supremacists and has consistently used racist rhetoric to divide America. Raging wildfires on the Pacific coast highlighted his decision to withdraw America from the Paris climate agreement. He has downplayed — in fact ignored until he was afflicted himself — the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed a quarter of a million Americans. His mendacity is blatant, his nepotism is outrageous and his narcissism seemingly knows no bounds.
Yet in spite of all this he still retains the backing of roughly half of the electorate!
Donald Trump did not convert America into a likeness of himself — racist, ignorant and xenophobic. He simply gave his racist, ignorant and xenophobic countrymen permission to feel that it was OK to feel the way they did.
By demonstrating their support for him and affirming his presidency, the 73 million Americans who voted for him (a little less than half the voting population) are simply telling the world “This is who really we are”. While Joe Biden’s message was “My Fellow Americans, Be Together”, Donald Trump’s message was “Americans, Be Afraid”.
The sooner Donald Trump can be persuaded to accept the will of his people and leave office, the better for the nation.
But sadly, he has legitimised his insular, xenophobic and racist ‘Trumpist’ view of the world — and it will be a long time before the ideas and values that he gave voice to become a thing of the past.
Even if America enters an era of No Trumps come January 20 next year, Trump’s legacy will last a lot longer than is good for America.