The lesser of the two evils

Sara Simon
Current Events

First and foremost, a premise: anyone who believes that Europe will not be affected by what is happening in the United States of America should remember that America is the Western world’s reference of power, whereby Europe has entered into political, commercial and military agreements; and, if this is not enough to feel sufficiently involved in these elections, it should also be borne in mind that the American President has the codes to launch around 7,000 missiles with nuclear warheads, 50 of which are at the military bases of Aviano and Ghedi.

The election campaign that has just ended was violent to say the least, and it seems that we have faced not political opponents, but rather nemeses devoted to protecting democracy on the one hand, and white supremacy on the other.
Even the presidential debates, where each candidate usually expresses their strong points of their programme – trying to capture the voter’s favour through the forces of dialectics, ideals and persuasion – have turned into shameful occasions to launch personal attacks on the opponent.


Having elected Biden is not so much a victory for the democrat over the republican, but as a victory for democracy over reckless demagoguery that aims to undermine constitutional processes and to enhance the very norms of democracy.

The first debate between the two candidates – Donald Trump and Joe Biden –was probably the most chaotic and confusing one ever broadcasted on TV in US history. In front of tens of millions of Americans, the debate was directed towards the many problems the country is facing and their proposals to make up for them, but almost every response Biden gave was interrupted by Trump, who was repeatedly and unnecessarily reminded by the moderator to respect the rules that both candidates had agreed upon before the electoral debate. 

     But who are the two candidates? Trump, formerly known as an entrepreneur and public figure, has worked long and successfully in the real estate field and today has relinquished the presidency of the United States to the newly elected President Biden. The latter, a Democratic Party candidate and Obama’s vice president, who has been in politics for about fifty years, and for his candidacy has chosen Kamala Harris, the first woman to have held the position of Attorney General of the State, as vice president. He is also the main promoter of the Violence Against Women Act, a law to protect women against abuse and violence, and a supporter of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and anti-racist policies in America.

     While neither candidate was convincing during the election campaigns, the difference between their subject matter could not have been overlooked. Biden’s was about unity, tradition and honour; but above all about relying on experts to control and defeat coronavirus, which is now totally out of control in the United States. Trump’s campaign, on the other hand, was first and foremost an electoral campaign characterised by contempt for the basic rules to combat the spread of the virus – if we just think of the sea of people without a mask or minimum social distance with an audience cheering the leader of the Republican party in various American states. Secondly, Trump did not try to awaken the best instincts of the American people; on the contrary, by building an ideological enemy he fuelled hatred and encouraged victimhood and fear thanks to the motto “make America great again”.

Yet, Donald Trump intrigues and fascinates, capturing the consent of at least 40% of the population. Why?

     In the recent documentary “Unfit – Donald Trump’s Psychology” released in the United States last September 1, a psychological study of the Republican party leader was carried out. For some, the sole purpose of this initiative seemed to be to delegitimise Trump in the eyes of the American people in an attempt to make him lose his consent just before the elections; yet, even as we strive to watch the documentary objectively and without prejudice, we acknowledge that it is only a matter of recounting and commenting on the reality of his actions and statements during his presidency. In the documentary in question, Trump has been described as a paranoid narcissist suffering from antisocial behaviour, lacking empathy and with tendencies towards sexism, sadism and deception. Such traits of the psyche are said to be related to the serious personality disorder called malignant narcissism, a term created in 1964 by the psychoanalyst and humanist philosopher Erich Fromm, who, having escaped the Nazis, studied the psychology of evil. Whether Trump is a malignant narcissist is something we cannot say for sure, but we can state, based on empirical observations, that he demonises those who disagree with him. He often lies, humiliates, denigrates and belittles women – even on an aesthetic front – to discredit them. During the course of his term in office he has shown malice and absolute lack of empathy on several occasions. One of them, the one that has perhaps most destabilised and divided public opinion, has been the policy of zero tolerance towards immigrants. 

In fact, the ex president’s government policies to combat illegal immigration require that parents who cross borders are removed from their children, who are then placed in juvenile detention centre. The administration calls it “zero tolerance”, the UN calls it a violation of children’s human rights. It is impossible not to define this a sadistic and cruel choice, especially when realising the permanent effects, it will have on those who suffer from it. But this disregard for human rights also emerges from his absolute lack of position towards the anti-racist protests of the Black Lives Matter movement following George Floyd’s terrible murder; presumably only in order to avoid losing the vote of the white supremacists. To the armed right-wing extremists, the so-called Proud Boys and staunch supporters of their own racial superiority, during the electoral debate, Trump reserved not a public condemnation but a saucy grimace, stating “Stand back, stand ready” or “stand back and be ready”. Hinting to ‘stand ready to act’ for a paramilitary militia whose consent is sought? It is certainly not the first time. Last April, thousands of people gathered in front of the Michigan Congress to protest against an executive order issued by Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of the State. The order foresaw the closure of most of the state’s activities to curb coronavirus infections. During the protests, and during subsequent demonstrations, swastikas, Confederate flags and slogans encouraging violence against Whitmer herself were seen. Trump had encouraged the protests with a tweet: Free Michigan. Well, last month, six people belonging to an extreme right-wing group were indicted in that state for taking part in a broad criminal plan to kidnap the governor. 

According to the FBI, who carried out the investigation, the group had met several times during the summer for military training, attempting to build explosives and guarding the house where Whitmer was spending her summer holiday. The plan was to abduct the governor before the November presidential election and take her to a ‘safe house’ in Wisconsin for trial.

      Trump has clearly understood the power he can wield over the Proud Boys, and it would not be out of place to expect clashes and civil wars in the coming days in an America – where the arms trade has risen 40% this year. Not only that, Trump himself has said that he will appeal to the Supreme Court, alluding to possible schemes and frauds, to explain how his advantage has evaporated due to the ‘magic’ appearance of other cards. Biden immediately replied that every vote should be counted, and many commentators have pointed out that no evidence of irregularities has emerged so far. But Trump knows that the Supreme Court has recently changed in its composition and, with the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barret, is now in his favour: it consists of six conservative and three liberal judges. It is also curious to note that Barret’s appointment was particularly swift, contrary to the explicit request of her predecessor – progressive judge Ruth Bather Ginsburg, who died this year on the 18th of September – to wait for the new president to elect her successor.

On closer inspection, from a historical perspective, for the third time we are witnessing the rise of the strong and threatening charismatic leader. This happened first during the Fascist period – with Mussolini and Hitler – and later, after the Second World War – with Mobutu and Gaddafi, in the perspective of anti-colonialism. Today we see the third generation of leaders threatening liberal democracy.

In this sense, having elected Biden is not so much a victory for the democrat over the republican, but as a victory for democracy over reckless demagoguery that aims to undermine constitutional processes and to enhance the very norms of democracy.

[1] Out of diligence and on a libertarian basis, I refer at the end of this reflection to the reading of what is different from me, yet fraternal, to the other from me; dialogue as the first form of philosophy is reaffirmed today. The text to refer to is “False good ideas” written by Michele Diego.

[2] Valentina Avon, Migranti, duemila bambini separati dai genitori. Trump sotto accusa, in repubblica,

[3]The Documentary – #Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump

[4] C’era un piano per sequestrare la governatrice del michigan, in Il post,

[5] Maddalena Maltese, La corsa alle armi per il dopo elezioni, in S.I.R. agenzia d’informazione,

[6] Elezioni Usa. Biden “vede” la Casa Bianca. Ma Trump ci prova: fermate i conteggi, in,

[7] Francesco Costa, il caotico dibattito fra Trump e Biden, il Post