The Age of Presidents

The Age of Presidents

Today is the American Presidents’ Day holiday, and as in Africa perhaps we should think of as commemorating ‘The Age of Presidents.’

Officially marked to celebrate the birthday of our first president, George Washington, it was expanded by most of the states to also celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which also occurs in February, hence the name.

Some southern states, though, officially celebrate Washington and the third president, Thomas Jefferson, a ridiculous and clearly racist slap at the president who ended slavery.

It occurred to me, today, that this is an unique year for presidents in Africa as well. Today the authoritarian president in Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, bombed ISIS targets in Libya after Egyptian Copts were beheaded there.

Like the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, and like Obama for that matter, these men acted unilaterally, evoking whatever powers they perceive exist but certainly not any that emanate from any democratic processes.

Today America has 10,000 troops back in the Levant. (Read the last chapter of my novel, Chasm Gorge, where I predicted this.)

It seems to me we live in a time where democracy is not working, and that often any peace or stability or prosperity that occurs does so because an authoritarian person is benevolent.

Consider Kenya’s increasingly dictatorial president overseeing an increasingly peaceful and prosperous society.

Or the best example in all of Africa, the iron fisted completely ruthless Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Few countries in Africa today are as peaceful or prosperous as Rwanda.

The six years of an Obama presidency has seen American society recover masterfully from a terrible recession, try to end foreign conflicts and reduce the tension of illegal immigrants. Yet most of this was not done in a democratic way.

Perhaps in this modern age democracy is not the will of the people, but a tool to manipulate the will of the people. Happy President’s Day!