By Tatalo Alamu

The unthinkable is now becoming the inevitable in America. With the doddering and dismal performance of Joe Biden at the presidential debate and the Supreme Court ruling conferring an open-ended immunity on Donald Trump’s compulsive criminality while in office, alarm bells about the grim possibility of Trump’s return to the Oval Office have started ringing in many civilized capitals around the world. The horrifying prospects, not to talk of the stark possibilities, send jitters across the globe.

With the Supreme Court majority ruling on Monday which granted substantial immunity to actions taken by a sitting president, America is finally on the road to never-before. We say never before because America was never a traditional monarchy. For centuries, America’s political elite avoided this route back to medieval tyranny and servitude. It is the “Kabiyesi Syndrome” in America. George Washington declined to run for another term on the grounds that the American people did not disown feudal monarchy in Europe only to consecrate a similar institution on another continent.

The Supreme Court ruling is a reflection of how bitterly polarized and inchoate America has become. The revered justices may have failed to appreciate the dangers ahead for democracy in America. In the ideological occlusion of actual reality that partisanship brought upon them, they even came to the paradoxical conclusion that the main threat to the nation is not the executive brigandage and deliberate terrorism represented by a leader like Trump but the possibility of a descent into legislative despotism.

Donald Trump represents an acute danger to America’s political wellbeing. This is what happens when a solitary ruler without scruples or moral qualms but with a Rasputin-like hypnotic hold on the ignorant masses suddenly materializes with the sole vindictive purpose of upending the system. The Kabiyesi system literally means the king can do no wrong and cannot be held accountable for his deeds.

Yet it should be noted that in traditional societies where kings held sway, there were enough checks and balances to prevent an obdurate and malignant ruler from descending into untrammeled tyranny. Among the Yoruba in Nigeria, a tyrannical ruler that has exhausted the patience of the people is advised by the conclave of wise people to do the needful by opening the sacred calabash. This meant sure suicide.

In all this, it is profoundly ironical that it is the listless and fretful Joe Biden who has seen through the chicanery. In an insightful swipe at the Supreme Court justices, President Biden noted that America is not a land of kings. And that is putting it mildly. Quite a number of people are tempted to dismiss this as mere hysterical mush or a voter-scaring gambit. On the contrary, the evidence on ground suggests that this is not America’s finest hour.

Where then we may ask are the remaining people of honour and inviolate integrity in the greatest and most competitive democracy the modern world has seen? It is said that all human societies are the same but for the institutions erected by each society to act as barriers against a return to barbarity and degeneracy. There is a solidarity of all human-beings in aberration, rues Albert Camus.

America is caught in a classic conundrum, a vicious self-entrapment. The intellectual visionaries and democratic heroes who founded America did not envisage it as a warrior-nation. They sought to create a new type of nation of free people founded on democratic principles and away from the tyrannical ashes of feudal Europe. In this, they seem to have succeeded beyond their imagination and wildest dreams.

But as hubris gave way to a notion of American Exceptionalism and manifest destiny particularly after astounding victories over Mexico, the Spaniards in Cuba and the Philippines and the Germans in the First World War, Americans came to belief that the entire world is their oyster which they could toy with at will. As a covenanted people with a superior vision of the world, they have a right to impose their will and might on any nation or people.

The problem with this notion of history is the fact that America failed to factor in the possibility of a countervailing logic from other equally covenanted people and societies who have produced their own heroes and their own unique societies who will refuse to be bullied around by any country no matter its fabled military might or productive capacity. Some of these civilizations have been around for more than five thousand years.

This is the misbegotten militarism that has produced the debacles of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the roiling stalemate of Ukraine, the murderous maelstrom of Gaza and the gruff face-off with China. Believe it or not, it has also thrown up the explosive contradictions of a draft-dodging ruler like Donald Trump who insists that America is not founded for the weak or the weakling.

Going forward, it is obvious that America needs a paradigm shift and a fundamental reset of values in line with emergent global realities. It will not come with a Biden presidency. Old Joe is too flustered and flummoxed by the pace of events. But rather than the malevolent and potentially catastrophic return of Donald Trump, a somnolent Biden presidency will be a watershed and a waterbed for the emergence of a new generation of American leaders.

Culled from The Nation