Revisit Gandhi to tackle Trumpism

Photo : livemint.com

The world should be aware of Trumpism.

Lead up to events

from the Wikipedia – Called to action by Trump, thousands f his supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., on January 5 and 6 in support of his claim that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from him, and to demand that Vice President Mike Pence and Congress reject President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

On the morning of January 6, at a “Save America” rally on the Ellipse, Donald Trump Jr. threatened the president’s opponents by saying “we’re coming for you”, having previously called for “total war”; and Trump repeated his false claims about election irregularities and told the crowd to “fight like hell”. At the president’s encouragement, thousands of the crowd then walked to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was beginning the Electoral College vote count to formalize Biden’s victory.

Many of the crowd at the Capitol, some of whom had gathered earlier, breached police perimeters and, many shouting, stormed the building. These rioters occupied, vandalized, and looted parts of the building for several hours. Many became violent, assaulting Capitol Police officers and reporters, erecting a gallows on the Capitol grounds, and attempting to locate lawmakers to take hostage and harm. They chanted “Hang Mike Pence”, blaming him for not rejecting the Electoral College votes, although he lacked the Constitutional authority to do so. The rioters targeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, vandalising and looting her offices, as well as those of other members of Congress. Dozens of people in Washington, D.C., that day were later found to be listed in the FBI Terrorist Screening Database, most as suspected white supremacists.

Upon security being breached, Capitol Police evacuated the Senate and House of Representatives chambers. Several buildings in the Capitol complex were evacuated, and all were locked down.[66] Rioters occupied and ransacked the empty Senate chamber while federal law enforcement officers drew handguns to defend the evacuated House floor. Improvised explosive devices were found near the Capitol grounds, as well as at offices of the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, and in a nearby vehicle. Five people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died from the events, while dozens more were injured.

Trump initially resisted sending the D.C. National Guard to quell the mob. In a Twitter video, he called the rioters “very special” and told them to “go home in peace” while repeating his false election claims. Pressured by his administration, the threat of removal, and numerous resignations, Trump later committed to an orderly transition of power in a televised statement. The Capitol was cleared of rioters by mid-evening, and the counting of the electoral votes resumed and was completed in the early morning hours. Pence declared President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris victors and affirmed that they would assume office on January 20, which they did. 

Never in the history of the world’s oldest democracy has such an event happened. The last it happened in US history was at the time of the civil wars, almost 200 years ago in a different time and space. For many in india, this was reminiscent of the brining down of the Babari masjid on dec 6, 1992 by a mob led by some political leaders. 

So what is it that drives the people in such a manner? What is it makes a “mob” out of a rational thinking human being. For the post truth gen, the answer lies in the term “Trumpism”. 

What is Trumpism

In an article posted in the BBC in 2018, Ron Christie, a Republican analyst who worked in the White House of George W Bush says that Trumpism is “what the president believes on any particular moment on any particular day about any particular subject. He could believe he’s against climate change on Monday, and Tuesday, he could come back to you and say I am the most ardent believer in climate change, but by Wednesday he could go back to his previous position.”

By 2020 it had turned to something more sinister, more dangerous. 

During the 2016 presidential campaign, it was repeatedly said that the press never really got why Donald Trump was doing so well, summed up in a brilliant sound bite coined by a US journalist, who said that the media took him literally and not seriously, while the American public took him seriously but not literally. And that emotion got transpired on January 6 at the Capitol Hill. 

So what exactly do we mean by the term “Trumpism” ? Well, the definition for the word is not out as yet but it can be spelled out as appealing to the screech of the insecurity in the society, more often of the erstwhile majority which feels it has been robbed of its riches. In US, they use the term the white supremacist, in India we use the term Hindutva forces. 

Trumpism is the act of the political leader which appeals to the insecurity of this mass and makes them a vote bomb to catapult him into the political arena. Most of the times the leader thinks that he can control the ‘mob’ but it is a Frankenstein that gets created. Riding the monster for political gain might be a good strategy but can never be good for the society on the whole. 

In what all forms does it manifest itself

in the US, with the advent of capitalism and immigration from the world, it has led to economic betterment and upward social mobility of people of colour. Third fourth generations of migrants are now citizens of USA only and are contributing to the diverse social fabric of the country most constructively. To a mind rooted in ‘America for whites’ it creates fears and feeling of being looted and cheated. This is the chamber in which Trumpism thrives. 

Another contributor is globalisation. Globalisation has failed to address the fears of the left behinds, those who got the raw deal in transaction of business being outsourced, or replaced by a voice from a far away land. To the business it made sense, to the society it didn’t. This further proves a point that impact on society and impact on profits are paradoxical to each other unless the profits are distributed to a larger mass. Globalisation led to the profits of few, filled up the coffers of the government but in comparison, gave very less to the masses. 

Capitalism in its new avatar of globalisation has further increased the inequality in the society. It is this inequality of the once privileged that Trumpism tries to exploit. So in America, globalisation gets blamed for rise of the people of colour economically and socially at the cost of the white, once-considered-themselves-superior masters. Anti Climate change stand starts getting termed as anti America, migrants from the world over, who earlier made what America is today, are now considered a pariah. 

In india, it is the rebook at our history with Mughals and Britishers being kept at par. It is overlooking the fact that whereas latter was an exploitative business enterprise, the former made this land their own and started afresh blending and contributing to the social fabric. To a certain populace, it is not just the British who enslaved us for 200 years but much before that the Mughals as well. The “sone ki chidiya” moniker is for the ancient india with medieval history being filled with loot and plunder by the “outsiders”. A binary of us and them, original and foreigner gets created. 

Fissures start appearing and fault lines start getting exploited. A false narrative starts finding takers that starts looking at the world of 21st century through the prism of 10th century. We are reminded of what we were that existed centuries ago and made to realise where we are today with reference to our religious and social order. It is here that Trumpism resonates in the Indian society. It pinches us to see our differences citing the social order of what we were to what we are, skipping the time space in between. 

Way out

Trumpism, Modiism, Erdoganism, call it by whatever name, it stands for inciting people to look at their differences, highlighting the inequality. This challenge is not only an American problem but resonates across the world in different forms of exhortations.

Compare that to Gandhism where an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Where gandhi tells the world that its not that no one has been wronged but to make it right we don’t have to commit another wrong. He tells us that it is not right to replicate in a once accepted norm of a ruler subjugating the mass to his beliefs in a modern, secular india of today and talk about revenge. 

Maybe its time for the world to revisit Gandhi. 

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