By: Stuart White 06-11-2020

Categories:HRMC Articles written by Managing Director, Stuart White,


If there is an award for tenacity it surely must go to Joe Biden. From his first presidential bid in 1988, thirty years on and the man is finally US President (I am writing this before the official announcement but if TIME magazine could publish Hilary Clintons face on the cover last time around. only to get it wrong, I can be forgiven for the same!) I guess people have forgotten that he withdrew from the 1988 race after newspaper stories stated he had plagiarized a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock and other allegations of past law school plagiarism and exaggerating his academic record.  Yet here he is bouncing back - perhaps resilience and tenacity are   required traits for a President.

I have been glued to the TV screen this week following every part of the US election, the twists, turns and shenanigans. Despite the carry-ons of Donald Trump shouting foul play at every opportunity (nothing like a sore loser) or because of it, it’s been riveting viewing which even though it feels little whacky I think it is a great advertisement for democracy. As Indian author Rohinton Mistry said “Democracy is a see-saw between complete chaos and tolerable confusion.” 

I have a few observations and thoughts about this election, the predominant one being is how did it happen that Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the best two political leaders from one of the most powerful countries in the world with a population of 328 million? The campaign rallies have been laughable, the debates even more so. Its been called a circus, comedy show and at times it has been looked on as a joke by other countries as these two candidates hurled insults at each other in the most childish manner.

Maybe it is because I don’t understand Rallies.   It appears they are events where candidates spend their time not selling themselves but discrediting the other party. I keep wondering what the result would have been like if either candidate never talked about what the other couldn’t do or their faults and instead took the high ground and spoke about what they could and would do...surely that would resonate?

A week before the election I was convinced that Trump was going to win. From what I was watching on CNN, even though the news channel is distinctly biased and pro- Biden, I could see that there was huge momentum from the Trump campaign and that Sleepy Joe, as Trump likes to refer to him, was being over cautious maybe from the virus or just fatigue but he seemed to be in hiding for most of the time. Granted in the last week of the campaign he resurged with some energy.   In the other camp it appeared that Trump’s audience lapped up his unconventional political style, casual and joking demeanour - as if he was chatting at an intimate dinner, sharing secrets with his dinner guests (“I might fine Faucci after the election”) and joking about how if he lost the election it would be to the weakest presidential candidate ever! They lapped it up...  as H L Menken once said - Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.

Despite Trump being everything I dislike, I can see the appeal. He appeals to the rebel in me.  I am sometimes repulsed and yet strangely drawn to the madness. I love that he speaks his mind, even though I don’t like what he says. I like the fact that he is non-conforming, sometimes radical , unpredictable mostly, politically incorrect and doesn’t bow down to woke culture. I guess as it is not my country, I can have this view and observe watch with interest and humour. My US friends don’t quite see it like that or share the joke, feeling that with him there was always too much on the line and too much to lose.

I remember being at the American embassy in Gaborone for the election breakfast of 2016 and the distaste and disbelief for the result was palpable. There is no doubt that this was not the result the state department wanted and even in America there seemed to be a lot of very unhappy people and a population divided. Watching what was then looked a train smash play out,  I have not been disappointed and been mostly horrified by what the man has done and his gall. But as we can see from the election result, many Americans would disagree. 

In an article in The Economist Leaders section it said of Trump “ In the past four years he has repeatedly desecrated the values, principles and practices that made America a haven for its own people and a beacon to the world. Those who breezily dismiss Mr Trump’s bullying and lies as so much tweeting, are ignoring the harm he has wrought.”

Four years on, he is not leaving the country in a better position. The country is even more unhappy and divided and I hardly recognise this America that I have lived in and neither do Americans. Whilst I don’t know if Joe Biden is the cure and I doubt it from what I have seen,  my American friends tell me he may not be ideal but they’ll take anything at the moment so he will do for now. If Lady Gaga is to be believed (and in the absence if anyone else believable in this election why doubt her?),  he is a good man who will restore steadiness and civility to the White House. 

Republican strategist Alice Stewart said, “If 2020 is the most consequential election of our lifetime, heaven help us for 2024,” Ms Stewart went on, “I’m calling Noah and will start building the Ark.” She could very well be on to something because to quote Nobel prize winner and cultural poet, Bob Dylan, ‘A hard rain’s gonna fall’!