The Joker’s Legacy

By Rosa Miriam Elizalde on January 21, 2021

In his final hours in the White House, Donald Trump released his administration’s “Accomplishments”, a boastful list of supposed political, economic and diplomatic successes, which is shocking both for what it says and what it omits.

He forgets to mention, for example, the 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States, the two historic impeachment trials and his self-coup plan of January 6, when his supporters tried to take over Congress in Washington. If you read to the end, you get the feeling that the list has been written with the tragicomic impunity of the Joker, because just like the comic book villain, before disappearing from Gotham City by helicopter, he goes out of his way to deliver one last sinister antic.

Incidentally, the Joker that Trump reminds me of is not the one played by Joaquin Phoenix, but the one in the film The Dark Knight (2008) who says to Batman: “You thought we could be decent in indecent times”. In this work, radically different from the usual superhero films, there is a fine line that separates the hero from the anti-hero and the latter from the villain who is always on the prowl: “He is the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs now (…). He’s not a hero, he’s a silent guardian, a vigilant protector, a dark knight”.

Joker Trump admits, in the best McCarthy style, that his administration “stood up against communism and socialism in the Western Hemisphere”. From this subtitle, the list of his “achievements” focuses on Cuba: he reversed the policy of Barack Obama’s administration, pledged to keep the blockade intact, enacted new policies to persecute finance, cut off remittances, prevented travel, allowed lawsuits in US courts against foreign companies allegedly trafficking in goods expropriated on the Island after 1959…

Josefina Vidal, who was the main negotiator with Barack Obama’s government in the process of re-establishing relations between the two countries, reacted to these “Achievements of the Trump Administration”: “Nefarious and shameful legacy of gratuitous cruelty against an entire people, in exchange for the political support of a minority sick with vengeance, failed and defeated a thousand times”.

The ambassador refers to the Florida politicians who made a pact with Trump to raze Cuba to the ground and, in passing, indirectly reminds us that the attitude of the Joker in the White House is that of the indecent individual as a metonymy for the social indecency that brought him to the presidency. No one is so nasty, cruel, disturbing and sinister without a chorus of sycophants and an enabling circumstance.

The section of the list of “achievements” dedicated to Cuba is proof that Trump’s last identifiable purpose was to leave a minefield on the White House lawn to receive Joseph Biden. The string of sanctions against the island – the latest issued with one foot in the stirrup – is an attempt to abort the new president’s intention to resume the peculiar policy of détente that Barack Obama’s administration began in 2014 with Havana. An editorial in The New York Times, signed by the newspaper’s Board of Directors, assures that the Trump administration “leaves no bridges unburned” and “throws a bite at Cuban exiles” who will tuck in Joker and his natural or putative children with presidential intentions.

The moral rottenness that leads Joker to be seen as a hero by millions of US citizens dwells in that intoxicated mass of rage that tried to take over the Capitol, and that continues to worship Trump, as we saw yesterday during the final show with which he bid farewell to his presidency. The conspiracy of rage that we Cubans know all too well always leads to irrationality. It is the moral complication of this twisted film that we have seen over and over again in the last four years. Let us hope that Biden corrects it and that, even in indecent times with Trumpism alive and kicking in the United States, he can be the decent president he has promised his country and the world.

Source: Cubadebate, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau