Particularly for my African friends, suddenly bombarded with their media exhalations of joy with the Georgia race, puncturing with nuclear force the silences that I had attributed to a sagacious long-view of history. Regain the patience you are so notable for. This tiny moment in history does not an epoch make. Trump is alive and well.
Recognize a stark and striking difference between America and all the rest of the “free world.” Our democracy is not. Our aged system is designed to inhibit change, because the change that gave us our revolution from Britain was so fragile that once secured it had to be stopped for fear of reversing itself.
That ancient cowardice will be our modern undoing.
South Africa’s Daily Maverick invoked this morning the “wave of relief [that] swept across the world following Joe Biden’s victory” to attribute the Georgia results to the South African character of the “Power of One.”
The Power of One was a beautiful South African novel and a slightly less beautiful Disney movie. DM encapsulated recent American politics as proving “One vote, one choice, one small action [but] too often we forget that when one becomes many, it can change the course of history.”
And therein lies the melancholy of America. “Many” in most democracies means a majority, one more than the other. Not in America.
“Many” in America is distorted by our aged constitution’s electoral college. It’s suppressed by a century of Jim Crow politics and immoral Supreme Courts that excluded legitimate voters from voting and allowed influence to be purchased rather than argued. It’s skewed by arcane if banal parliamentary rules like the Filibuster.
“The results were a repudiation of outgoing President Donald Trump in a state his Republicans have controlled for decades,” writes a commentator in Nairobi’s Star this morning.
Not so, commentator in Nairobi’s Star this morning. When all the votes are tallied the two new Senators will hold a fractional sliver of a percentage more support of Georgians than their opponents. This is not a “repudiation.”
“A major political upset in a GOP bastion,” exclaimed Nigeria’s ‘TV Station of the Year.’ The commentator continued that it will “send reverberations through Washington and the nation,” … except:
Georgia remains a GOP bastion because refreshed like most of the States in America during the November election, the Republican state levers of power have been strengthened.
State legislators, executive office holds, judges, sheriffs and lower officials in counties and cities throughout the entire country all went resoundingly Trumpian, bringing into office some of the craziest political amateurs in imagination. Our States are now controlled by people who believe in UFOs, that Hillary Clinton ran a pedophile pizzeria, and that the Covid vaccine alters DNA to make patients submit to socialism.
States control massive amounts of policy. That’s another legacy of an aged constitution and makes so many of us pine for the modernism of European governments.
So now that the good guys control however briefly the federal levers of power, why don’t we just change the constitution?
Because it’s near impossible to do so. Oh for Italian boldness! But in America it’s a lengthy process ultimately decided only when three-quarters of the States agree to the change. With States firmly in the control of Trump it’s not even a hope.
Trump, of course, is not the only populist in the world today and none understand that better than Africans. Zuma, Museveni, Magufuli, Ruto – just a few of the easily twenty or so Trump-like populists destroying the continent.
All like Trump came to power on a surging wave of discontent. Because their supporters had already been suffering for so long little was asked of them but to win.
Discontent becomes deep depression when the intellectual skills to understand it are lacking. Remedies honestly proposed by those who know what to do are castigated because they come from those who caused the misery in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. I celebrate the moment as much as anyone, and this moment is one for great celebration. But the future is composed of zillions of moments each predicated on a undeniable reality of the past. And right now there is darkness on the face of the earth.