The fact that you are reading this article means you don’t rely exclusively on the so-called mainstream media to get your news.
The Daily Friend would likely be classified as inappropriate content by the mandarins of morality who rule the roost on most public spaces today. See, for an example, how Abigail Shrier’s book on the ripple of dysphoria diagnosis among teenagers has been received pretty much everywhere.
But imagine for a moment that you only read South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and the British Guardian. Or that you were paying a subscription to the New York Times and rounded off your share of news by listening to the BBC.
Should you fit this description, you would most likely have a certain view of what happened (and is still happening) in the United States presidential election: that Americans woke up in timely fashion to vote en masse for a reasonable candidate and correct the historical mistake that was the election in 2016 of a quasi-fascist as president. (Have you seen CNN’s Amanpour equating Trump’s presidency to the Kristallnacht?)
According to this line of argument, Donald Trump was propelled to the White House by a wave of racism, chauvinism and every other conceivable form of bigotry lurking in the depths of US society. The proponents of this view also assume as a self-evident truth that his four years as president were a succession of disasters with all sorts of dreadful consequences for America and the world.
While it is hard to establish the motivation of Trump’s average voter (does this even exist?), we can easily weigh the concrete results of his term in office. We can look, to start with, at the economy. You might remember the periodic news reports that even media outlets most hostile to Trump have run on the successes of the US economy in the past four years. To sum them up, I’ll quote from an article by Karl W. Smith published on 30 October by Bloomberg.
This is what the big picture looks like, and we’ll immediately go into the details: ‘Between December 2009 and December 2016, the unemployment rate dropped 5.2 percentage points, from 9.9% to 4.7%. By December 2019, it had fallen another 1.2 percentage points, to 3.5%.’
The author also reminds us that ‘(by) 2016 … the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve had concluded that the economy was at full employment and that further improvement in the labor market was unlikely’, but that Trump ‘ignored this consensus’. He went on to implement ‘a program of tax cuts, spending increases and unprecedented pressure on the Fed to cut interest rates to zero’ – dismissed as ‘reckless’ – to achieve a ‘goal of 3% growth’, widely ‘derided as delusional’.
But Trump’s recipe proved spectacularly successful. ‘Not only did the unemployment rate continue to fall, but the percentage of Americans aged 25 to 54 either employed or looking for a job saw its first sustained rise since the late 1980s. This inflection point changed the character of the labor market.’
Smith continues: ‘In 2016, real median household income was $62,898, just $257 above its level in 1999. Over the next three years it grew almost $6,000, to $68,703. That’s perhaps why, despite the pandemic, 56% of U.S. voters polled last month said their families were better off today than they were four years ago.’
Although the pandemic truncated this trajectory, the US economy has already given strong signs of a healthy rebound. (Trump has been severely criticised for his volatile and tardy response to the coronavirus. I believe he has reacted no more erratically than most world leaders, although his shortcomings might have been more evident due to his strident communication style. He has not been outsmarted in this by his political foes at home either. Remember Joe Biden decrying travel bans as xenophobic, and Nancy Pelosi’s walkabout in Chinatown.)
No doubt, an economist might raise objections about Trump’s economic policies and their long-term consequences. But the numbers presented by Smith’s Bloomberg article are hardly consistent with the disaster for the American people most of my colleagues in the media pretend to see in all the outcomes of what Trump did.
Trump has also been presented as an inveterate racist. He certainly is one by critical race theorists’ standards (who is not?). According to most media articles, black and brown people are among the groups worst affected by Trump’s 2016 victory. But let’s look again. The numbers tell us a completely different story.
Even evidently malicious fact-checking efforts by leftist publications such as Vox have been forced to admit (far down in the text and with an impressive display of mitigating arguments) that ‘(before) the pandemic hit, the unemployment rate for Black Americans reached an all-time low (since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track in 1972) at 5.9 percent in May 2018’. Moreover, black household median income reached the highest levels on record during the Trump years.
Biden’s preliminary triumph has been saluted by most of the media as a huge relief – not only for America but for the rest of the world. Days before election day, Spain’s state news agency produced a piece with the following headline: ‘Human rights before the abyss of another Trump term’. Trump’s threat to human rights, we learnt in the body of the story, was global in scale. ‘The world breathes a sigh of relief after Biden’s victory,’ wrote Spanish centre-right daily El Mundo on 7 November. Despite all this hysteria, the world is a somewhat more orderly and peaceful place than when Trump took over from his predecessor Barack Obama.
ISIS was the creature of George W. Bush’s democratic imperialism. It came to grow unimaginably strong under Obama’s indecisive rule and has been crushed by the Trump administration, without a new war being started. Besides defeating the once seemingly unstoppable caliphate, Trump achieved unprecedented successes in normalising the Arab world’s relationship with Israel. And let’s not forget his very reasonable efforts – deviously undermined by the establishment that profits from it – to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and put an end to its pointless presence in that country.
Among his many foreign policy successes, I also count his taking on China’s disingenuous trade practices. Trump’s fighting back in the commercial war China had been waging for decades has been an eye-opener for a global elite who are mostly in denial about the threat posed by the communist giant. Even the European Union is now confronting this uncomfortable truth – although it needed the pandemic to face reality. Trump’s demand that European NATO members contribute their fair share to keeping peace and security in the West is another example of the bold political realism that Trump brought to breaking the mould of what most had accepted as chronic, unsolvable anomalies and crises.
A dispassionate look at the facts of his presidency that goes beyond the adjectives and labels usually employed by the media to judge Trump shows that his presidency was far from a catastrophe. In fact, it bore eminently positive results in the fundamental fields of political action. Such a look beyond labels also helps to understand that eight million more Americans than in 2016 voted for him after his four years as president.
At the time of writing, Trump was still resisting the pressure to concede. In my opinion, it was clear that Democratic Party administrations were tampering with the electoral law in several so-called swing states weeks before the day of the vote. The legality of some of the amendments they made to facilitate mail-in ballots, that were known to overwhelmingly favour Biden, has still to be upheld by the courts.
While I don’t believe the Trump camp is succeeding in presenting a strong case for the fraud they are claiming, I think we should wait for the courts to resolve pending issues over the election before declaring Biden the new president. I also think Team Trump should be given the chance to challenge the results where it identifies signs of irregularities, and that it is nonsense to call on the president to expedite a transition while there are ongoing court processes affecting the vote.
In the meantime, the mainstream media would do itself a favour by putting an end to the blackout it applies to virtually everything that contradicts its narrative. The latest example is how it is ignoring the beatings to which Antifa and BLM militants subjected Trump’s peaceful supporters who were leaving a march in support of the president in Washington DC. The slightest micro-aggression is treated like a major crime – if it is perpetrated by conservatives. Yet the very same journalists completely shun actual violence when the victim is a rightist, or violence comes from the left.
The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR
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