May I ask a question in all humility? Because I genuinely don’t understand some of the thought processes involved.
I appreciate there are a lot of people who don’t like US President-elect Donald John Trump. And there are also a lot of people who like him.
Equally, there are a lot of people who don’t like current US President Barack Hussein Obama. And lots who did and still do.
Not too difficult to follow so far.
But for all the criticism of Obama during his eight years in office, duly elected according to the laws and regulations governing free and democratic elections, we never saw the plethora of threats, lawfare, name-calling, mudslinging and more that we are seeing regarding Trump. Neither did we see the previous incumbent try to hamstring President-Elect Obama during the transition period. Nor did we see public criticism of Obama before he had even put his foot inside the White House. Quite the opposite, Obama was universally lionised – before having achieved anything. The point being that not just in US society, but globally too, the incoming President was given every opportunity to prove himself, to get the job done.
And quite rightly too – every person taking on this immensely powerful and responsible job, that of the President of the United States, needs to be given the greatest possible opportunity for doing the job properly. So much rides on the success of a successful US President.
Yet here’s what I don’t quite get: for all those who do not like Trump – and they are perfectly entitled to their views, such is the beauty of democracy and free speech – is there a special, invisible cut-off point beyond which being a Democrat requires you to stop being democratic in your outlook? I mean, you don’t like Trump, I get it. Really I do. Just as there are people who detested Nixon, Carter, Clinton, Bush, Obama, there are people who detest Trump.
But how does this justify the relentless dismantling of the democratic institution that is the US electoral process, simply because the results of that democratic process didn’t pay the expected dividends in terms of the favoured Democratic winner?
Isn’t that what democracy is about? That every now again – let’s say every four years – there’s going to be a national leader who happens not to appeal to every single individual voter in the country?
I’m not a US citizen, but it is frightening to observe from afar the feeding-frenzy that ensued after democratic elections failed to re-elect a Democrat to the highest office in the nation. The fallout, the language, the methods and taunts and insults and undercurrent of violence, are not doing Democrats any favours.
And Democrats need to do themselves a lot of favours so that they can compete against the Republicans in the democratic process and retake power in future elections. It’s what the whole process is about – the smooth transition of power, back and forth, even to people you may not like.
Because that’s kind of the whole point of democratic elections – at any given point in time, there are going to be a whole lot of people who like the incumbent, and those who don’t and who didn’t vote for him or her.
You want to take down Donald Trump? Excellent. Take him down for what he actually does. Which means waiting for him to start his job. Otherwise we are in the position we were in eight years ago, with a US President who received the highest global accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize, for nothing he’d actually done.
Both extremes equally undeserving and equally insulting to the individual’s integrity – praising someone for what he hasn’t yet had time to achieve, and criticising someone for what he hasn’t yet had time to achieve.
Criticise Donald Trump by all means – in fact, please do so since no leader should ever be allowed to get so comfortable that he/she feels unassailable and thinks there is no need for accountability on his/her part.
But keep it real. Justifiable. Base it on a measurable track record. For the sake of US democracy.
Which actually impacts democracy in the few remaining countries that still practise this noble form of social coexistence.