Hope and change 2.0

As the world waits with baited breath for the US Presidential election results, there has been a lot of discussion and speculation about the outcome so far. Yes, it does appear that Joe Biden is going to squeak a win but he was supposed to have been a shoo in. Him, and the democrats in Senate and Congress, were supposed to have wiped the ground with their Republican opponents in a scorched earth scenario. Alas, it appears that not only may the Senate remain in Republican hands but Dems may end up losing some of their stronghold in Congress. Further to that, Uncle Joe’s win will come down to scrapping the bottom of the election barrels, of a Supreme Court fight, should his highly litigious and unwilling to concede opponent take it that far. I won’t spend any more time thinking or writing about the current occupant of 1600 Penn but rather his supporters.

You see, he didn’t vote for himself (although, given that he claims to be better at everything than everyone, I’m surprised he didn’t attempt to-sorry, I couldn’t resist that jibe). As I write, he holds 60 million plus individual votes, so that many humans, plus more yet to be counted, thought it best to re-elect him, despite all the dog whistles, lacklustre leadership (at best), school yard bully name calling etc. They thought nothing of his bluster and arrogance and enormous ability to lie, especially about issues that can be very easily verified. They have bought into his conspiracy theories, and creation of boogey-men a.k.a Democrats or swamp people lurking at every corner, and this mistrust is perhaps one of the reasons the pollsters, for the second election cycle, have come up short in their prediction. A friend of mine recently mentioned to me, twice in as many days that perhaps “we are the ones out of touch”; and the ‘we’ in this situation being people opposed to trump and more so trumpism.

The thing is, I have never claimed to be all knowing or completely justified in my views so I answered in the affirmative both times my friend made the assertion. Yes, it is possible there is a large portion of the electorate, at least 72 million+ in the US alone so far, who are just out of touch with reality and admitting that is the best step in healing and moving forward. However, I personally believe it is the trumpers who are determined to remain out of touch with the current and future realities and move back in time. To illustrate, earlier this year, my brother in law posted a call to vote on his FB page in support of the Biden/Harris ticket. He’s not usually very active on social media, so understandably, there were a lot of us chiming in with our thoughts and opinions. One lady chose to use her time to castigate him for imposing his socialist opinions on others, which took us all back because he had not held a gun to anyone’s head or condemned the “others” in any way. I was one of perhaps 3 or 4 commentors who engaged this lady, and I remember asking her something to do with her understanding of socialism as an economic system, in the hopes that we could have a good intelligent discussion. Her response threw us all for a loop: without missing a heartbeat, she directed her reply again to my brother in law, telling him how she had never shown any animosity to his wife and kids, and was happy to see them living their best life, despite the fact that she harboured reservations about race mixing. If yours eyes just nearly popped off their sockets dear reader, you are not alone. Not only was this beyond baffling, and a masterclass level digress from the issue on the table, but more so, it was so maddening that my blood is boiling just from the memory of how it felt in the moment.

So, my dear friend, yes we may be out of touch, but it is only with the past. There are lots of people in the West today: US, Canada, parts of Europe, Australia etc who are still living in the past. Their governments, afraid of going extinct due to people choosing to either not have children or not to have enough to replace or grow their population, had the foresight to open doors to foreigners, as a source of labour. In the case of the US, some of the “foreigners” in question were brought in chains, kicking and screaming and in the last 60 or so years, have attained the right to be fully functioning members of  society and not just the help. At the same time, borders have been opened to allow even more racially ambiguous individuals in acceptance of the inevitability of unification of all men, leading to a present and future America and Canada that doesn’t look anything like it did that many years ago.

You know what, to an extent, I do understand where these people are coming from. I was born and raised in a monolithic society where everyone looked just like me. Whenever we encountered mixed race or other races of people, we treated them according to whatever myth or stereotype we had heard about them, never making an effort to know them as individuals. My country, thank God, never went through any attempt at racial or tribal cleansing in my lifetime but there were those countries who bought into the threat of ‘others” so much so that killing or eliminating them was the only way to “maintain their purity”. Hence the genocide in Rwanda, the “Ghana must go” push by Nigerians and the still recurring violence against (African) foreigners in South Africa. Were you to ask any of these groups about how trumpism, they would perhaps condemn it in no uncertain terms, blind to their own prejudices.

I recently read somewhere about how important the SA Truth and Reconciliation committee post election was in allowing for a peaceful transition. Any counselor or psychologist will tell you that openly admitting to a feeling, having it acknowledged not necessarily as true but as valid, followed by genuine discussion on the way forward is crucial to emotional health. The US did not do that when it overturned its policies against black people, seemingly overnight and there are still scores who felt that the decision was imposed on them and was not one they would have preferred. Canada went through a truth and reconciliation process between 2008 and 2015 with its indigenous citizens; a noble idea whose devil is in the details of implementing the findings.

I am not out of touch; I completely understand where I stand and respect the desire for some to only see people like me on National Geographic channels or worse still in aprons or with hoes. But that world they desire can not be, mostly because machines have replaced human labour in most spheres of life. More importantly, while one leader may promise to return them to such a time, doing so would be to their detriment in various ways, prime of which is potential loss of life from environmental pollution (coal anyone?), and loss of investment opportunities by organizations that value that diversity of race= diversity of thought=diversity of opportunities= diversity of creativity =, = , =.

The lady on the FB page, whom we all roundly condemned, is living in a bubble, which she falsely believes is protecting her but were she to step out of it, would realize there is a lot of life to be lived, when one minds their own business and perhaps as her Bible thumping upbringing taught her: asked “what would Jesus do”.

The irony of it is that she, like a lot of others “blood and soil” patriots are at the very most, 2nd generation citizens. Their grandparents escaped to freedom in North America from countries where they were “other’d” for whatever reason; as is the case with their dear leader. Uncle Joe Biden is a decent human being, but even he can not lead the reconciliation and honest discussions that are required to move the country outside of its current deadlock. I am the forever optimist but i do believe we need to do, more than say in order to see the future that was dreamed of by our forebearers.