By Muhammed Adamu
IN his November 5, 1952 concession speech, after losing the presidential election to Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson was asked how much it pained that a dye- in-the-wool politician, should lose the presidential election to a political neophyte who had just retired as General. In reply to that, Stevenson had merely recalled a story which he said a fellow townsman of his (Abraham Lincoln) used to tell. And that was that, when he (Lincoln) was asked how he felt once after an unsuccessful election, he said that it “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”.
But that brief political anecdote was also Adlai Stevenson’s coy way of saying that although ‘it hurt’ to lose to Eisenhower, he should not be expected to ‘laugh’ merely because everyone had thought him macho enough -like Lincoln- not to ‘cry’ about it. The lesson being that in politics as in almost every endeavour of life there is time for everything: time to ‘cry’ and time to ‘laugh’; but most importantly time to suck up, and where necessary, even pretend to do neither! And which Hillary Clinton, it seems will not be adept at.
But still on Lincoln again; that a man does not ‘laugh’ or ‘cry’ over a stubbed political toe, is not to be mistaken for indecisiveness. Much later as an octogenarian President who had to fight a civil war to keep a fragile union, Lincoln still showed America how to keep strict balance between two opposites and not lose your mind. Without the least passion for warmongering he politely told the secessionists of his days to bring it on when he said at his first inaugural:
“In your hands my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors”. Yet Lincoln warned “You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect and defend it”. And which decisively he did.
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 and can never be undone. We had thought that Hillary had kept the Lincoln anguished-grit of teeth to suck up the pain of electoral defeat, rather than weep –as it seem she does- even as she lays bare the reverence of the vaunted ferment of political age which is entirely 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 mere thought of losing to her arc enemy, Trump. They said that she had gone berserk and hysterical. That she yelled, she kicked and she hauled obscenities. Quite un-Algore-like you would say.
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 be worse in the potentials for the manifestation of those attributes -especially of the sort that feeds cowardly from precipitate action in order to conceal a cowardly heart. 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.
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. Because as we can see, a sizeable chunk of it too –like Hillary- has not been able to keep the comportment of the Lincoln macho grit, to suck up the excruciating pain of a weird ‘electoral college’ defeat. 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’? 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 muffled tone of the bad-loser, ‘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 endeavour- whatever goes around they say, will always come around. Having clinched the popular vote Hillary should have no anger reserved for the electoral majority, 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 American presidential elections that voters had to choose between two evils. Trump had his support base cut out from day one. His supporters are either racists; or that they did not give a damn about the emergence of a white-racist President; especially considering the fact that the alternative to that is less unpalatable. 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 pool.
Yet the problem was with the other ‘evil pool’ –the Hilary collection of the reluctant-, half of whose electorates 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. They 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.
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.
The Electoral College
And now you wonder again, s it now that the Clintons should be challenging the legitimacy of the weird system of ‘majority rule’ which the founding fathers had contrived to short circuit America? Have they suddenly lost faith in the efficacy of the system to take care of itself ? Either way Hillary and her husband will merely be betraying the unjustified angst of a workman quarrelling with his own tools.
Now the fault lines in the so-called American Presidential system of democracy are beginning to show signs of fatigue. The import of the fallacy of the ‘electoral college’ is made more poignant today than all the years of theoretical study could possibly have brought to the fore. Truth is: even as far back as over two hundred years ago when the founding fathers were shaping the union, there was no plan that the ‘people’ should be trusted to be their own ‘sovereigns’ -as political ‘text book’ theories would have us believe. The ‘people’ had their right to ‘directly’ elect their president almost unanimously ceded to a more manipulable elite club –the ‘electoral college’.
The plan was to establish a ‘government of the people’ yes, and ‘a government for the people’ too; but it was never intended, conceptually, to be a ‘government by the people’. Many delegates to the founding Conference did not believe that an ‘ignorant’ majority should be trusted with the all-important task of directly electing a President for the country. In fact, Virginia’s George Mason at the Conference thought that to refer the choice of president (directly) to the people would be to “refer a trial of colours to a blind man”.
This was how much scant regard the framers of the American Constitution had for the ‘people’. In the end, the system of the ‘electoral college’ was not a product of superior wisdom, but a less than thoroughly-debated middle ground agreed by feuding delegates to tone down the animosity that had built between those in favour of Congress a the direct elector of the President and those who preferred the ‘people’ instead. It has taken over two hundred years to ferment. Now look where it has brought America.
ONLY yesterday, George Bush had said, at the 1988 New Orleans Convention Hall where he accepted the Republican nomination, “This is America… a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky”.
And today, when you look at the next President of the ‘greatest nation on earth’, -Donald Trump, you wonder ‘where are the ‘thousand points of light’? Where is the ‘Star spangled banner’ of the great founding fathers?
America has just escaped a pax-Hillarica. Can she survive a pax-Trumpica?
Re: ‘NASS and the Buhari initiative’
THIS topic has touched and brought to the fore an important matter of the Buhari’s method of governance. The approach adopted is actually giving cause for concern now in several quarters. So if truth MUST be told, this government seriously needs to re-examine its methods especially as relate to engagement of people in ‘administration’. Perhaps, this government urgently needs a think-tank of some sort, made up of people of highly patriotic and professional backgrounds, and with the President ready to accept the results of their enterprises for immediate implementation.
I think the President is overworking himself , but I doubt if he regards the potentials of even some of his APC party men as counting to the extent that he can give trust that can enable confidence-building in our economy. We have for long blamed members of the old government of mismanaging our resources, but a lot of them are still left everywhere in the system, not only to provide tools of sabotaging the present government but also to strengthen their position to secretly support opposition to this government and further humiliate its supporters. A man in Bayelsa who supported this government to come to power needs attention, just as the one from a predominantly APC state like Katsina.
But where a new entrant who played a great role in frustrating the new party from coming to power suddenly gains the ears and eyes of the powers that be, without proven integrity or merit, then there is a serious need for a review of how we truly want our plans to succeed and continue in some few years to come.”. –Aboky’s Newspage (on-line)