In the discourse of last Sunday entitled, ‘Donald Trump was a blessing, not a curse, ‘ I tried to bring out very strong lessons from the obviously “ruptured” American democracy. A bit of recap for the benefit of those who did not read that. I said recent ugly developments around democracy in the United States have given great opportunity to see democracy in real practice and to reexamine the political culture we have, to ascertain if truly we are in line or doing something else. We saw how the judiciary reacted promptly to what was obviously a serious threat to national peace and stability.
In over 60 cases filed by defeated former President Donald Trump we didn’t see preliminary objections and other legal gymnastics designed to establish jurisdiction of court to hear any such electoral infringement. If there were, it was not considered a very substantial matter that should hinder speedy dispensation of justice. Judges went straight to the heart of the matter and with despatch dealt with the issues, all within the circle of the electoral process. It is a good lesson to learn given what we do here which led us in the past to see electoral complaints many times lasting the tenure of some of the public offices in contention. The new rule of having a time frame to hear out electoral litigations does not solve the critical issue of deciding winners before swearing in of supposed winners into offices. It is no hidden fact that anyone sworn into office uses public funds to prosecute what is clearly a private matter. What is undue advantage is confered on one candidate over another. This couldn’t have been the spirit behind any democratic regulation.
The conduct of the American judges were excellent, especially when placed against the background that ‘smart’ Donald Trump appointed many judges to the bench in the hope he could pick sympathy when it would matter most. Severally he would boast with the Supreme Court but when chips were down he saw he was up against a brick wall, institutions that hardly pander to individual or group shenanigan. The adjudicators kept a straight face.
The political parties behaved themselves responsibly. For most part they kept calm allowing democratic institutions handle the situation especially the electoral body and administrative units saddled with responsibility to organize elections. Federalism is in practice in America. Presidential and congressional polls are about the federal level but states organize them according to rules prescribed by each state assembly. State of Georgia where Trump wanted results altered is under the control of Republican Party, the president’s party, yet, the governor refused to interfere beyond the campaigns already done. What a beauty.
Imagine if this were to be our society or any African country. Just visualise the picture and let me know what what you see. Terrible imageries of course! Governors and hypocritical aides making frantic calls, running helter, skelter to corner officials of the electoral body, presenting inducements of various kinds, asking them to subvert the people’s will. Trust them to win a compromise, ruin the process and fall back to beat their chest for a task well done. To add insult to injury, they tell whoever pesters them to “go to court.”
The security agents were exemplary; none of the commanding officers descended into the arena. They very well kept to their constitutional roles; we didn›t see any of them issue those dictorial statements alleging imaginary subversion, let alone threats to deal “decisively” with anyone intending to cause a breach of public peace. A friend asked me if dealing decisively wasn’t part of American English language. I didn’t answer. The officers organized their units professionally, deploying when and where it was necessary. Those who failed on account of dereliction to duty have lost their commissions, reference those in-charge of providing protection for the legislative complex which was easily ran over by the violent protesters and the man in charge of security for Washington.
Here the picture would be different; service chiefs would be seen moving in and out of the seat of power in the manner of people going for shopping spree. They will bark orders in the style of military regimes, before anyone knows it, arrests are being made, most of them without warrants. In between, tribal views are blasted out in form of national official positions. What a tragedy! When great societies have a national emergency, partisanship takes a backseat. We saw all that; we saw Trump’s party men, legislators and others rise publicly to be counted on the side of the country. They called a spade by its name. This is what it should be.
Everyone conversant with the way institutions work in developed nations knew Trump was only adding to his many woes by the antics he chose to play. He ended ingloriously. His drama on the morning of the inauguration of Joe Biden as 46th president made some of many conclude that Trump had no intelligence at all. It was foolish to put up events to dim or compete with headlines with the new president, whose day it obviously was.
Now to the crux of today’s talk, which is about preparation before contesting election. This is very important. Preparations precede performance, this is a tested theory. Everyone could see that Joe Biden was prepared for the task. He is well educated and has experience, he is not coming to learn on job; programmes-wise he was very clear what would form priority areas and their sequence, he didn’t have to wait to read all files from previous administration before he hit the ground running on what needed to be done.
Before the polls Biden had started giving a glimpse of some of the persons that will work with him. After the polls he began to release names against offices. As this went we didn’t hear of special national executive party meetings before he spoke or announce names. All that needed to be done had been discussed and settled, he never hesitated or wasted time thereby creating an atmosphere for all groups and persons to come begging and lobbying. Last time it took our president six months to consult, look through files, before forming a cabinet. Governors took three to four months. We do all that and what we are left with leaves us with no joy.
Aspirants to public offices should have a programme, not the generalised kind, commonplace each time elections draw near. They should have agenda that is target specific; they should start moving round organisations to give public speeches and lectures and to take questions, with answers documented for future referential purposes. There should be a law for public debates, none should absent himself or herself.
The other important thing should be to elevate quality of candidates, quality education, exposure and antecedents are vital. Nobody should point to doctorate degree holders and start a debate. The truth is that we must go for a system that will offer us internal democracy in the parties and sanctity of the ballot box in the general elections. All of us know what we do is no elections. We know and that fact needs no repetition here. Some have said that America we talk about has a democracy that is over 200 years ago Read their history, you will see conscious efforts were made to correct any fault line discovered. Penalties were applied and new laws promulgated. Theirs was never a case of learning every year. Even on recent ugly developments, heads are rolling. I for one will not be surprised if Trump is tried and sent to jail. Seriously societies hold on to only the best, ours shouldn’t be an exception. I mean it!