America is broken. It allowed the cancer of misinformation to fester and spread. And what we are seeing is a manifestation of cerebral rot in a country, which up until the Obama presidency was still held up as a beacon of democracy.
But apart from cultivating trade ties in the interest of building economies, or having an international peacekeeping authority, what would folks here, halfway around the world, care about American politics? Do we even have faith in the US as a key player in geopolitics any more? How can we trust it to function as a watchdog for human rights when the US has shown itself to be lacking?
The world watched as the American reality drama of a presidential election unfolded in the final months of 2020. It watched all through the civil unrest precipitated by racist police brutality and impunity. It watched as the battle between simple truth and misinformation ensued in an egregious onslaught against journalism, just so nobody can point out that the proverbial emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes. And it watched in disbelief as members of Trump’s misguided millions who bought into insane QAnon conspiracy theories and shameless DJT lies stormed the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.
Sadly, Trump’s misinformation machine had been powerful enough (enabled by self-serving Republican sycophants and right-wing medi) not only to confuse and divide the US, but also people across the world. Friendships and familial ties have been broken even here. It should have been clear to anyone who has anything between their ears that Trump was never fit to be president, nor was he interested in doing the job of one. He clearly only liked the title and the perks, and the chance to profit off the position. But surprise, surprise.
With Biden being inaugurated on 20 January, the world may breathe easier than it did the last four years. But will he be the glue that will repair the broken-ness in America, or the shattered faith of its allies across the world? Even so, will we be able to respect our pro-Trump friends ever again?
NB: This article first appeared as the Prelude to the January/February 2021 print edition of AUGUSTMAN, which typically serves up a succinct expression of international news as an appetiser to the rest of the magazine. It has been edited here to reflect the most recent events.