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A president assassinated. A president forced to resign. A former – and possible new – president who is subject to multiple indictments and surrendered in prison, albeit for twenty minutes. And around the figures of Kennedy and Nixon, other leaders who made the twentieth century history of the United States, also for the way in which their young lives were ended: Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcom X. Recently it was the sixtieth anniversary of Dr. King’s speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, the famous “I have a dream” speech. The strength of those words remains intact, but not the capacity of the system to process or overcome traumas such as those that marked the 1960s – with his murder and those of John Kennedy, his brother Bobby, and of Malcom X – and the 1970s, with the resignation of Richard Nixon. Trump poses an unprecedented challenge to the system, truly historic, especially after his formal arrest in the Fulton County Prison: a challenge more serious and grave even than the one posed by the killers of Kennedy and MLK, and those who were behind those killings.

Unlike the events that punctuated the Sixties with blood, with a long coda in the following decades, the case of Trump does not present itself as a crude and cruel anomaly along a fundamentally democratic path, or one that represents itself as such, capable of correcting and protecting itself. In its progress and consolidation over the years, Trump’s trajectory now reflects and recounts the state of a large part of the system itself. So, if Trump, despite being charged with serious indictments, with others on the way, succeeds in becoming the official presidential candidate of the Republican Party, and is then elected president, the story that has been unfolding around him, from his appearance on the political scene in 2015 up to the mug shot from his arrest in Georgia, and on through the upcoming trials, will be told as the story of an unstoppable, destructive drift of American democracy itself.

The first debate, last Thursday, between eight aspiring Republican presidential candidates in Milwaukee seemed to confirm that things are going in this direction. It was an exhibition of a political void just waiting to be filled by the big absence at the debate. Trump. The only significant presence. Certainly not for the contents of his political agenda, which is wholly similar to that of his rivals, but for the weight and the space that his figure now occupies in his party and in the broader media-political landscape. 

Despite all the efforts of the media circus to stoke a clash in the Republican field that can create the image of a true horse race, as presidential campaigns usually are, this time there is only one man in competition, more with himself than with the other contenders, all bidding to distance themselves from him, but not up to the point – with only two exceptions – of also distancing themselves from the different prosecutors that are after him. The media’s efforts to give the dignity of competitors to figures like Ron DeSantis, or the already dull new star, Vivek Ramaswamy, or to old acquaintances such as Chris Christie, Nikki Haley or Mike Pence, seems in vain so far, and not even particularly sought after in the presence of a much more tempting and compelling narrative like that of Donald Trump’s solitary run against everyone.

The Democrats have taken an attitude not unlike that of the media circus, in the belief that Trump is the best opponent for Biden and that his judicial marathon, with other developments in sight, could wear him down, due to the time that they will take away from his electoral campaign and the enormous amount of money needed for his legal expenses. Meanwhile, the bulk of his lieutenants and loyalists, Giuliani at the head of the line, end up in the judicial meatgrinder. 

This drain on Trump’s resources might also be perceived by parts of his most loyal and militant electorate, no longer willing to follow him on the path of victimization as the only card to play for victory in 2024. Furthermore, Trump’s actual strength in his ability to bring along Republican candidates for the Senate, the House and all the other offices up for grabs on Election Day in November 2024 will need to be evaluated. Will he able to position himself as the presidential candidate able to bring aspiring senators and congressmen to victory along with him? Trump’s political destiny is linked to the answer to this question as well as the solidity of his base.

The wait-and-see, defensive posture of Biden – and the Democrats – is dictated by his status as an incumbent. Symbolic primaries. Zero comparison with other political options and ambitions. In the previous Democratic primaries, it was positive for Biden to engage with other candidates, Bernie Sanders in particular. Today, his platform is a commitment to move forward with implementing the promises of the previous electoral platform of 2020 that have not yet been enacted during his first term, guaranteed by his not exactly brilliant presidential stature.

Objectively, Biden’s political offering is not particularly sexy, much like the excitement of a safe used car. On the other hand, though the Trump model may be (by definition, it seems) faster, glitzier, and more attention-grabbing, it has no seatbelts, no airbags and no brakes, and it’s barreling at top speed on a collision course with the foundations of America itself, with tens of millions of people in tow.

Translated by Paul Rosenberg

Wanted ultima modifica: 2023-08-27T15:45:00+02:00 da GUIDO MOLTEDO
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