Thursday Column with Mohammed Adamu
By Mohammed Adamu
NOTE: Four years ago –precisely Nov/17/16 after the election of Donald Trump- I had recalled, in the ‘Postscript’ to a piece I wrote titled ‘Now That Trump Is President’, what George Bush Senior once said at the 1988 New Orleans Convention Hall after accepting the Republican nomination: “This is America” he had said, “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky”. But I had said also, with a pinch of ironic undertone, that now with the election of a character like Donald Trump, you wondered where now were the ‘thousand points of light’? Or where was the ‘Star spangled banner’ -that America would risk such terrible electoral misadventure with Donald Trump as President.
In fact in an earlier piece titled ‘The Trump-Hilary Conundrum’ I had grimly painted the electoral dilemma America had inadvertently (?) put herself into –namely having to choose then, between the ‘devil’ (ably personified by a hawkish Hilary) and the ‘deep blue sea’ (eminently made flesh by the hobgoblin of an enfant terrific Trump). There was, I said, “more to ‘fear’ than ‘cheer’ in the dangerous ‘choice’ between a Trump or a Hilary. One I said was a “barefaced-lying, rabidly bigoted xenophobic out to bite the world” and the other “a stealthily hawkish, two-faced she-devil waiting to mount chivalry charge on the world”. For the so called ‘bastion of democracy’ I said there was not even “the luxury of settling for that proverbial ‘lesser evil’ -because in reality each of the two ‘evils’ (was) equally as fiendish.”
Now that Trump is on the menu again, I serve you this week, a re-jigged ‘Now That Trump Is President’. It reminds us that Hilary Clinton too had been –almost as sore- a loser, as Trump. She had, had her grumbling, well nigh anarchic ‘mob’ on the streets too disturbing America about her ‘simple majority’, which was an indictment of the ‘electoral college system’. Such unremitting source of agony –to have the ‘vote’ and yet lose the ‘count’; to win the ‘ballot’ and to be left with an empty ‘ballot box’? Hilary did not leave the scene as a gallant ‘democrat’. She was almost taken out ‘kicking and screaming’.
But ‘Now That Trump Is President’ had also asked the question: ‘having escaped a pax-Hilarica, by rejecting Hilary, could Americans also survive a ‘pax-Trumpica’? An answer which the Americans now know the hard way! Happy reading:
‘Now that Trump is President’ (Nov/17/16)
In his November 5, 1952 concession speech, after losing the presidential election, America’s Adlai Stevenson was asked how much it pained that a dye- in-the-wool politician like him had lost to a neophyte, General Dwight Eisenhower (rtd). In reply Stevenson had merely repeated Abraham Lincoln’s answer to a similar question: that he “felt like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark”; and that although he felt “too old to cry”, yet “it hurt too much to laugh”.
The lesson is simple: that in politics as in almost every endeavor of life there is time for everything: time to ‘cry’ and time to ‘laugh’; but most importantly time to suck up, and carry on. And we had thought that Hillary Clinton, in spite of being woman and essentially frail, had managed to pass the test of the Lincoln macho-ness –not to afford to ‘laugh’ in the pangs of a stubbed political toe, yet not to hopelessly ‘cry’ either in redress of a deed that’s already done.
We had thought that Hillary had kept the Lincoln anguished-grit of teeth to suck up the pain of electoral defeat, rather than weep to lay bare the reverence of the vaunted ferment of ‘political age’ and maturity which is the Clintons’ cherished heirloom. But no. We are told that on the night that the writing was all over the electoral wall with the foreboding of a technical defeat, Hillary was all her feminine, ‘frailty’ self –hysterical with the thought of losing to her arc enemy, Trump. They said that she had acted quite un-Algore-like, yelling, kicking and –screaming? And maybe that is why Hillary should never be President. She is a frail woman of precipitate action. Which is not to suggest that Trump may not even be worse.
And whether in times of great tribulation a Hillary or a Trump will be quicker to seek instant release from the coded buttons of nuclear bombs, is what the world may never get to know. But whether Trump will do that, we may, sooner or later, know. And what is Hillary saying? If my popular vote will not take me to the White House, let me take it to the streets to work America up. The Hillary majority –like Mussolini’s mob of Italy- is all over the streets of major cities in America, ironically singing not the popular refrain: ‘we shall overcome’; but humming in the muffled tone of the bad-loser, wondering foolishly ‘why should Trump win?’
But isn’t there always a way that cookies normally crumble, especially in America? In politics –as indeed in all other areas of human endeavor- whatever goes around they say, will always come around. Having clinched the popular vote Hillary should have no anger reserved for the ‘electoral majority’. At least that majority had fulfilled its own righteousness, by rejecting Trump; -even though for many in that so called ‘majority’, it cannot be said that by rejecting Trump they wanted to be understood as accepting Hillary.
The system has never been as unfair to the American electorate. This is about the first time in the history of America that voters had to choose between two equal evils. Trump had his support base cut out from day one. His supporters are either racists or they did not give a damn about the emergence of a white-racist President. But most importantly the Trump supporters –unlike Hillary’s- were self-motivated and ready to rumble with Trump. No amount of Hillary-campaign would deplete this evil Trump-pool. Yet the problem was with the other ‘evil pool’ –namely the Hilary collection of reluctant voters-, half of whom felt stuck with a Hillary they were neither motivated to vote for, nor did they have the motivation to vote against. Many would have wished that the Democrats had fielded a primate with an American flag in his hands; and by God Trump would not have made it.
The many American voters who stayed back home on election day, did not do so only to protest Trump’s candidacy. Some did so because even as they disliked what Trump stands for, yet they hated what Hillary has always represented: namely the hawkiest part of the American war-mongering industrial complex –which, like the Trump-mob too, was waiting in bated breath to form a government and to have a rumble their own way. In the end, America has escaped a pax-Hilarica yes, by rejecting Hilary; but will she survive a ‘pax-Trumpica’? Already he is obsessed with the idea of a ‘white-only-America’, with he (Trump) as her ‘avenging angel’!
Thomas Jefferson, one of the leaders of the American Revolution, was also the nation’s third President. And that was after having been Governor of Virginia and a distinguished Secretary of State. Jefferson in fact could easily have asked for monuments in his name even while he walked the earth –and remember he was the author of the Declaration of Independence- but he did not.
Jefferson chose instead a simple epitaph for his grave which in fact excluded even the fact that he had once been Governor, Secretary of State or President. His epitaph simply read “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and father of the University of Virginia”.
It’s been over two hundred years since then, and bang, bang comes a Donald Trump, a man with no antecedent for distinguished service to the fatherland but who is determined to lower the ante of patriotic duty. Trump wants to build a ‘wall’ between people. And already he has in mind a ‘monument’, which he suggests should be called ‘The Trump Wall’. And you can tell that indeed between Jefferson and Trump, a lot of water has passed under the bridge.