Looking Back From the Future

Twenty or thirty years from now, when Americans look back at the presidential election of 2020, what will they remember? The first, and most obvious answer will be: Covid-19. The pandemic will be remembered for many reasons, from the horrible loss of a quarter of a million Americans to the dismal record of a president who at first called it a “hoax” and at the end of his mandate continued to minimize it by repeating ad
nauseam that the nation was “turning the corner”, at the very time when a
devastating second wave was sweeping through the American Midwest and South.
They will also remember that the man who presided over this
catastrophe disrupted the political and social heritage of the United States and yet coalesced around himself a large enough base and a Republican party that betrayed their traditions and became servile and unscrupulous around a presidency that assumed all of the hallmarks of a cult. Most of all, the main feature of the Trump presidency that historians will remember is the callousness with which the Republican president politicized and exploited every part of the government, from the Justice Department to the Post Office. Americans of color and of multicultural orientation will remember something else, just as excruciating: the blocking of immigration that was accompanied by the vile disparagement of many countries, from Africa to those of Muslim faith. Such cynical conduct could not but sharpen the racial divisions and transform the Republican party into an anti-immigration party, once again ignoring its history and values. Another thing many Americans will remember is the unscrupulous turnover of the
Supreme Court. It will not be forgotten that it was the same Republicans who in 2016 refused to consider the nomination of a judge by President Obama by claiming that with eight months to go it was too close to a presidential election, then went ahead and confirmed Amy Coney Barrett just eight days before the election.
Hypocrisy does not compromise elections, but the exercise of raw power that Trump and his acolytes in the Senate have shown over the past four years has exacerbated the contrast of ideologies in America to a point that it is downright impossible to hope that any bipartisanship might be exerted in the halls of Congress. One can only hope that following the Republican takeover of the Supreme Court, the following Democratic administration may find a way to rebalance the court so that it may more accurately reflect the currents of social and political thought of the American populace.
The greatest hope, however, is tied to something that Americans have not
truly contemplated: the loss of U.S. leadership around the world, brought about by the disengagement of the Trump presidency and its rejection of the global collective action that America once pursued. Twenty, thirty years from now, the world may have learned the lessons of the present deep crisis, not only social but economic as well, that has devasted every continent, stemming from the absence of a global cooperative strategy. The present-day United States has failed to shape a common policy and to lead other nations on the cooperative path to banding together disparate national efforts. Many Americans will not forget that instead of
working together with European leaders in mitigating the pandemic, President Trump severed the connection with the World Health Organization and then went to the extreme measure of stopping travel by Europeans to the United States without any consultation with the European Union. The Europeans will not forget that easily.
In sum, in future years Americans will be painfully aware of the fact that at
a dramatic junction of history America was disastrously unprepared and that the myth of “America First” perpetrated by Donald Trump’s megaphone turned out to be a complicating factor for the relationship not just with Europe but with China. One hopes that the distrust and hostility that mar the relationship with China will be mitigated as well.
Last but not least, Americans will look back to the time when the Trump
administration declared war on the Affordable Care Act without even
trying to develop an alternative to it. On top of this, President Trump refused to accept the leading role of science in social progress. There is some hope that in the near future American leaders may possibly be guided by a spirit of compromise that would transcend the conflict of parties, ideas and ideologies. Will the country get over the present obsession of President Trump and conservative Republicans with mail-in balloting as a source of voter fraud? Will America have matured from the scourge of conspiracy theories that enthrall and deceive millions of Americans? We may not have to wait twenty or thirty years to overcome such malicious deceptions. Most of all, let us hope that the philosophy of Tomasi di Lampedusa expounded in the famous dictum “things have to change to remain the same” will not be preserved in the United States of America. In twenty-thirty years things must, and will, change.

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