Thursday, November 12, 2020 10:42 am
By Ifedayo Babalola
Dear American friend,
Take a step back. Just take a humble little step back and let go of your reality. For the reality you ask Donald Trump to face is yours, not his. Most importantly though, it is not the reality of the constitution of The United States as regards presidential elections.
I do admit that these are the days of unpleasant revelations. It is quite humbling for many around the world, (and you US citizens especially), that the simplicity of the electoral process has been taken too much for granted. It has largely been a case of conventional practices over constitutional provisions, and of assumptions over knowledge.
I know that you and I have never gleaned a page of the US constitution – not even the title page. What you knew therefore, what we thought we knew, is what we had been fed by the highly partisan American press coupled with conventional stuff since ages past.
The first universal assumption is that the moment American news networks call the winner, the contest is settled. After that, the little matter of a concession speech by the loser becomes an inevitable formality that is expected to happen within minutes of the press declaration.
It is like some magic master put humanity under a mass illusion for decades. Well… Another master is here to undo the spell of generational ignorance – a master illusionist willing to stretch the process to the end of its constitutional tether. And the world is already better for it, because as we used to say in our primary school days, ‘No knowledge is lost’.
The second assumption is that Americans can never be engaged in electoral malpractices. But alas! Crime is an equal opportunity employer; and even though the world knows there is hardly any shade of crime committed elsewhere that has no representation on American soil, it is somehow believed that the single sin of electoral fraud is beneath your country’s citizens.
Trump has not yet provided proof of his allegations, but so far as he has made them, it is for the good of your country that he is allowed to have his day in court. That country will be better for it, either in the courts validating the inviolability of the process or in a damaging judgement presenting an opportunity for rectification. Everyone deserves to know if the deification of the American way is justified or if the world has long mistaken an apparition for certainty.
Let me tell you. If the US empire will fall, the definitive blow will not be dealt by the rise of China or by the ravages of Covid19. It will not even be caused by another four years of Donald Trump. What will finally put ‘God’s Own Country’ in the graveyard of empires is the devaluation of its electoral process. For a credible electoral process is the foundation her democracy, and her democracy, the idea of one man one vote, is her most valuable asset at home and abroad.
And this is why you amaze me, my American friend. You should not be more concerned about getting Trump out by any means than with ensuring that the foundation of your democracy is not violated.
Anybody but Trump? Anything but Trump? Take it easy, my friend. Being determined to send a president packing ‘by any means’ bodes no country no good as you may eventually find out. I am speaking from experience because we did that once in my country and we now wish we didn’t.
Should you thank Trump for opening the world’s eyes to the fact that the US presidential elections is not designed (even constitutionally) to be as democratic as we think? Does he deserve praise for standing up to universal mob action led by the US press, thereby laying a precedence for candidates who in the future may have genuine reasons not to concede within minutes of ‘press calls?’
Maybe not. The reason is that he and his lawyers are not doing this for altruistic reasons, but merely manipulating loopholes in the process to their advantage. Well, again, isn’t that what politicians pay their lawyers to do all the time?
Your hatred of Trump may prevent you from seeing the inadvertent favour he has done. That is because most favours do not come in the package you expect. Besides, America may never again be ‘blessed’ (I use that word with caution) with a president ‘crazy’ enough to expose the soft underbelly of its most prized election. On the other hand, if the amendments are not made, someone worse than Trump may emerge in the future, and with worse consequences too. What’s more, with the experience of the past four years, no one in your country should ever say again that ‘It cannot happen here.’
Finally, dear American friend, do not for a minute think that things would have been different were the shoe on the other foot. This election has been conducted with such passion bothering on outright bitterness and war-mongering that both parties were prepared to throw caution to the dogs. Do you recall that a highly placed DNC leader like Hillary Clinton was also an active participant in this war game? I’ll tell you.
On Showtime’s The Circus as far back as August 24 2020, she said : “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually, I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.”
‘Under any circumstances’?! That is not quite the talk of a stateswoman, but an inordinate partisan; and when Hillary talks, the mind of a large chunk of the party’s leadership is revealed. This ‘they are both the same’ mentality of mine is why I’d have had no dog in this race even if I could. At least, not a dog I’d be bent on dying for.
Dear American friend, discounting therefore the irony of a Nigerian advising an American over election matters, let me end this piece by reiterating the words of consolation I gave you earlier:
‘Whoever wins eventually, the current travails of the world’s biggest democracy, if handled well, presents a silver lining: the opportunity to rework your country’s constitution so that the process will be truly democratic and fail-safe.’
Your Nigerian friend.
-‘Ifedayo Babalola, a satirist, writes from Ibadan.