Saturday, November 14, 2020 1:34 pm
By Adebayo Lamikanra
More than one week after the polls closed on the 2020 American presidential elections, it is disconcerting, even annoying that the winner of that election has still not been officially declared. The tradition dating back over two centuries is that as soon as one candidate has proof that it had become arithmetically impossible for him (her) to win the election, he (she) concedes to his (her) opponent who immediately acquires the title of President-elect and goes ahead with the announcement of his transition programme. According to knowlegible students of American Presidential politics there are no constitutional requirements that this be done but the force of tradition demands that the concession comes as early as possible because it brings closure to an exercise which occupies the attention of a whole nation for very nearly a year every four years.
In terms of preparing for this round of elections, there was nothing out of the ordinary. The Democrats who were in the elections to remove an incumbent president went through the tediousness of primary elections which threw up a seventy-seven year old candidate and even then, he was still younger than Bernie Sanders who in spite of his age and delicate heart can because of what in American parlance is described as dangerous because of his left wing beliefs and is labeled as the enfant terrible of American politics. In the Republican corner stood the seventy-four year old president who nobody dared challenge for the privilege of representing the party in the presidential election.
In my previous article, written only a day before the election, I said that the elections constituted a trial for democracy. As things stand however, that title should be slightly amended to reflect that what is on trial is the American version of democracy. This is because it is becoming clearer by the day that democracy is a dish of many different flavours differing substantially from one country to another. It can even be said that the practice of democracy evolves over time within the same country so that there is always something new being thrown up within each democratic country. It is not clear however if the evolution of democracy leads the evolution of society itself or if this phenomenon is driven by the evolution of democracy itself. On the other hand, it is probably safe to say that both democracy and society evolve together so that both are continuously on trial.
Right up to the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the sixties, it can be said that the USA was two separate and grossly unequal countries, one inhabited by privileged whites whilst the other was occupied by black people who lived on the periphery of the white country to which they provided low skilled services for which they were paid a barely living wage. In many parts of the USA but certainly in all parts of the country south of the Mason-Dixie line, black people were as a rule, denied the right to vote. It is therefore not surprising that the first struggle that was waged tenaciously by the Civil Rights Movement was for the right of black men and women to exercise their right to vote and be voted for in all parts of the country. More than fifty years later, the struggle continues because in the words of one of the Civil Rights leaders, the blacks are not what they used to be but are certainly not what they should be in a country which prides itself as the land of the free. Although they have had a black president, the tiny ruling elite is overwhelmingly white and black voter suppression is distressingly rampant. Still, it is clear that black votes matter and in the changing demography of the USA, black and Latino influences on leadership preferences can only grow in coming years. It is only a matter of time before the whites for all their previledges will be in the minority and we can all see what happened to the whites in South Africa when blacks acquired the right to vote.
The current round of presidential elections in the USA has been unique in several respects and s actually a spillover from the last round which opened the doors of the White House to Donald Trump. Not many people gave the Donald a chance when he announced his presidential bid and for good reason. For most of his adult life he was a professed Democrat but pitched his tent with the Republicans, a party boasting what appeared to be a strong field of seasoned candidates including Jeb Bush whose father and brother had been presidents of the USA. When the Republican primaries started, the unlikely early leader of the pack was Scott Carson a black retired neurosurgeon who on the strength of his former profession gave the impression of having superior intelligence. His lead did not last long because as he soon showed by his utterances that he was a goofball which only proved that you did not have to be a genius to carry out surgery on the most complicated organ, the almighty brain which is the seat f man’s dominance over the rest of nature. The next leader thrown up by the Republican contenders was a billionaire who in the mould of Carson quickly showed that you did not need to have a brain to be a billionaire, having a multi millionaire father was however a necessity. He was as uncouth as he was inexperienced as a politician and his stock in trade was a stream of vitriolic abuse directed with joyous abandon at large swathes of the electorate and quite impartially at contestants on both sides of the political party divide. He did not bather to present any set of coherent policy ideas for the consideration of the electorate. It was as if he did not exist outside the narrow confines of making America great again. His innocence of the appreciation of international affairs was quite touching and even though he had a large private jet at his disposal it did not appear as if he had ever bothered to venture outside the airspace above the USA. He was particularly rude o the people of Mexico with who he shared a border and his only reference to them was a stern determination to build a (nice) wall designed to keep them on their own side of he border in order to keep the USA safe from the swarm of murderers, rapists and worse who could be kept strictly to their own side of the border.
Donald Trump was this thing and more. He was quick to show that he had no moral compass with which to find has way to the White House or indeed any house claiming to have any reputation for gentility. His line with women was either to grab them by the pussy or offer them money for a brief roll in the hay, both obvious signs of virulent and deep seated misogyny. All in all, a man who had nothing to recommend him to any discerning prospective father in law, let alone to a sober electorate. These notwithstanding, it was clear that the Donald had a large and constant block of supporters who were going t vote for him come hell or high water. So sure was he of their unwavering support that he made the claim that if he shot someone in broad daylight in the middle of a busy New York avenue, it would not put a dent I his chances of getting elected as President of the USA. In the end, this Teflon man gathered together enough votes to defeat not just the other candidates from his party but that of the Democratic Party to become the 45th President of the USA. He said at that time that the only result he was prepared to accept was his own victory and so, it should not come as a surprise that ten days after an election which he lost by every projection, this man of straw is still clinging to the dubious comfort of a phantom victory. America is now more in need of God’s blessing than at any time before.
– Professor Adebayo Lamikanra, Faculty of Pharmacy, OAU, Ile-Ife. 08037000773