Trump And The World

Trump And The Totalitarian Temptation

By prematurely declaring victory, while the counting of votes is still ongoing, Donald Trump is taking a leaf out of an autocrat’s playbook.

Enlightened despot? Trump at the White House on Nov. 4
Dominique Moisi

-Analysis-

PARIS — The Permanent Coup. This was the title of a controversial 1964 essay by François Mitterrand in which he denounced then President Charles de Gaulle's exercise of power in France. What words would Mitterrand choose today to describe Donald Trump"s anti-democratic practices?

For the first time in the history of the United States, a presidential candidate has announced his victory before the votes have been counted, and in a race so tight that it's impossible to predict which side will eventually prevail. Such a provocation comes as no surprise: Donald Trump warned us himself, "I'm not a good loser. I don't like to lose."

Unsure as he is (and with good reason) of his future victory, Trump intends — in a perfectly unconstitutional manner, yet with the help of the Supreme Court — to prevent any risk of defeat and preempt any form of opposition. "Frankly, we did win this election", "We want all voting to stop..." and "As far as I'm concerned, we already have won..." are but a few examples of his rhetoric.

The strategy for Donald Trump, in his venture to destroy American democracy, is to deliberately pit citizens against one another. For decades, America was considered the world's firefighter; but today, its own president keeps fanning the flames of conflict burning on its very territory, as if he wanted his supporters and opponents alike to face off on the battlefield.

America is not just picking its new president: It is choosing its political and moral identity.

How did we get to the point of such a catastrophic scenario for America and the world? Where is the blue wave that would have given Joe Biden a clear-cut victory? We can only speculate at this point: On BBC World, an exit poll concluded that 34% of the votes were determined by economic criteria, 22% by racial issues, and only 18% by health issues. Is it possible that Donald Trump has defeated COVID-19 both on a personal and political level? Are Americans even more materialistic than we thought, and voted en masse with their wallet? In other words, is 2020 a throwback of sorts to the motto of Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992: "It's the Economy: Stupid"?

We know this much is true: Trump's resilience and remarkable energy were underestimated. His ability to antagonize his rivals is matched only by his skill at galvanizing his supporters.

Protesters in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 4 — Photo: Chris Rusanowsky/ZUMA

But that's not what matters the most. While uncertainty is likely to continue over the outcome of the election, America is more divided than ever. Right now, the U.S. is referred to more as an anti-model than a model. The fact is, in 2020, America is not just picking its new president: It is choosing its political and moral identity.

Will it emerge from this as a democratic reference once again, capable of reassuring the rest of the free world, and reigniting, to some degree at least, the American dream? Or, will it confirm its image as a country paralyzed by violence and distrust to the point of questioning the legitimacy of its democratic institutions? No matter who ends up winning, the "City upon a hill" is no more, and the country is starting to look dangerously like a large-scale banana republic.

Unbridled individualism is contributing to the country's accelerated decline.

Donald Trump's provocative behavior not only shakes America to the core: It plays in favor of the anti-democracy rhetoric coming out of China and Russia. Between Donald Trump's United States and Alexander Lukashenko's Belarus or Nicolas Maduro's Venezuela, the difference is one of degree.

Looking back, individualism has played a leading role in America's unique success story. But in the age of COVID-19 and Donald Trump, such unbridled individualism is contributing to the country's accelerated decline. It is too early to say who won this election. But, since the premature "victory speech" from the White House, it is safe to say that there is already one loser: democracy.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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