Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 November 2022:
America has always been known as one of the high priests of democracy. History shows that America’s aim to promote democracy across the world had seen it encourage governmental and non-governmental organisations and actors to pursue political reforms that will lead to democratic governance. Ironically, every American effort to promote, uphold and enforce democracy around the world had come with some hazards: American interests.
Thanks to its interests, we have also seen America’s support for non-democratic autocracies. From the Bay of Pigs, Nicaragua, and many other places, democracy has been pursued with some religious fervor.
Interestingly, there is an increasing anxiety about the future of democracy around the world, as many autocrats are beginning to feel emboldened by America’s new interpretation of democracy at home. What we see in America today is “democratic recession”, as we see this nation attempts to uproot and destroy all the foundations of its democratic principles.
In the recently concluded “democratic” elections in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro who was fondly described as the “South American Trump” lost the election to former President Lula. Although he met with Lula’s team to begin the transfer of power, Bolsonaro never conceded defeat.
What seems to be the vogue these days is the rising brand of “election deniers”. It is becoming increasingly fashionable to dispute election results even before they take place; thanks to “Denier -in Chief”, Donald Trump. To all intents and purposes, Bolsonaro had no intention to concede the election in Brazil last week. After trying and failing to undermine the integrity of the elections in Brazil, his party shamelessly invited the army to seize power. Sounds familiar?
There are significant similarities arising from the debacle in American politics today. Like Trump, Bolsonaro condemned the outcome of the election even before it took place. While Bolsonaro’s his party invited the army to seize power, Trump machinated the capitol riots on January 6th. Unlike Trump, Bolsonaro failed in his attempt to stage a “coup”. If the vogue to dispute election results and called them “rigged” even before the first ballot is cast is anything to go by, it seems like saying: “I am so popular with the people that the only I can lose this election is if it is rigged”. While bordering on the delusionary, it means “If I don’t win, no one else can”
So, why did Bolsonaro fail where Trump succeeded?
Wielding an iron grip on the Republican party, every syllable of Trump’s lies, conspiracies, misdemeanours, impeachment etc have been fully supported, promoted and oxygenated by his own party. Many of Trump’s allies and Republican politicians continue to hang on to his coat tails of deceit, lies, and alleged crimes.
Unlike Trump, Bolsonaro failed to get his party to support him fully with his conspiracies and attempt to undermine democracy. While he was busy casting doubts about the integrity of the Brazilian election, members of his party were busy congratulating Lula and conceding the election . Although there were some ripples of riots by truck blockades, they fizzled out chiefly because “a few good men” stepped up to the plate to DEFEND DEMOCRACY.
While Republican politicians have not only given Trump and his acolytes succour to wallow in falsehoods, but they have also demonstrated a shallow commitment to representative democracy. It is not surprising that Republican efforts to disenfranchise some selected voters is now the norm. Their Brazilian counterparts have stood up to their leader. Has Brazil become America’s next teacher of democracy? Can America learn something from Brazil, that the nation is bigger than the party? Despite their political differences, the Brazilian opposition put the nation above the party.
In America, the Republican Party (Trump)is above the American society. Even when this man took away documents belonging to the country, secrets that could endanger so many lives if in the wrong hands, Republicans are conveniently pretending blind to the risks.
That is one of the defining differences between the new American democracy and the Brazilian version we saw last week. There is no doubt that pro-democracy attitudes should and do co-exist, with varying degrees of differences. What we see these days is a significant lurch towards and willingness to consider non-democratic alternatives, because of dissatisfaction with how democracy is currently working in some nations.
It is one thing to be dissatisfied with the status quo, but does that mean that we should dismantle the whole concept of democracy to “correct it”? When did democracy become “by any means necessary”?
What is happening in America has been the domain of third world and underdeveloped countries, for which terms like “failed countries”,” banana republic”, etc were invented. Donald Trump Called them “Sh.. hole.” In Africa and elsewhere, no general election is complete without allegations of fraud, vote rigging, intimidation and unlawful detention of opposition politicians. In America, we witnessed Trump and by association, the Republican party’s attempt to overturn the election by violent means. It is beginning to look like Trump is the President that Africa never had.
Last week, an alleged Republican supporter attempted to kidnap the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. He settled for viciously attacking her husband as an alternative. These are the kind of stories that you would associate with so called third world countries. The question is, how many Republicans came out to condemn Mr Pelosi’s attacker, David DePape?
Republicans have since engaged in conspiracy theories and took to twitter to mock Speaker Pelosi instead. That gives you an idea of how low Republicans are ready to go, to protect and promote their Trumpian cult above America. America is now running on a hybrid of hate and differences, to fuel its political roadmap.
Is America a failed state?
If this happened anywhere else around the world, America would be quick to call it a failed state. At this rate, there is no doubt that America is fast becoming a failed state. It is showing all the hallmarks of a failed state and undemocratic principles. In today’s America, “cancel culture” is now edible. America now runs on its differences, rather than the similarities that invoked the idea of “United States of America”. It is ironical, that the nation which made democracy as part of its GDP is now trading it for self-destruction.
Can you imagine the number of lives lost in places like Zimbabwe, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iraq, Syria, and many more? Generations have died of hunger because America chose to enforce embargoes on countries not deemed democratic enough to American standards. Coups, rebel wars and revolutions have been masterminded, supported and promoted in the name of democracy. Sadly, these are the same democratic principles we now see being dismantled, brick by brick, before our very eyes in America today. The irony is that, unlike other nations, America’s destruction of its own democracy would not require any external forces. It would be in built.
What does “American Democracy” mean for the world today?
It goes without saying that most democracies around the world were calibrated by American standards. Most countries were only considered democratic, on the say so of America. Being considered democratic by America meant that a country was in receipt of USA aid, loans, support and in some cases, an American military base on your front porch. The implications for the breakdown of democracy in America will be far reaching. In little known Cote D’Ivoire, we know the regrettable consequences that followed Lauren Gbagbo’s attempt to do a “Donald Trump”. In those days politicians, and especially opposition politicians cried foul after voting. Thanks to Trump and his acolytes, the allegations of fraud, vote rigging and corruption are now levied even before elections. They seem to dance themselves lame, even when the main dance is yet to come. Is that not a preamble to chaos and anarchy? By condemning an election even before voting, are you not preparing and fermenting the ground for chaos?
So, what does this mean for democracy in Africa?
When a politician condemns an election process even before the election has taken place, does that not count as a recipe for chaos and anarchy? In effect, you are condemning the very process by which you want your people to choose you. So, why engage in a process that you don’t trust, and have no intention to promote its integrity.
America will conduct its mid-term elections on Tuesday. Among the numerous issues at stake are abortion rights, inflation, LGBT & Q rights I it is so sad to hear that this election is predominantly about “Saving American Democracy”. Who would have thought that America, the self-anointed disciple of democracy on earth would be fighting to save its own “Save Democracy? I wonder what the likes of Mugabe, Ghaddafi, Fidel Castro, and the fourteen others would be saying in their graves.
Can America continue to arbitrate on world democracy?
Does America still have the moral authority to comment on the democratic credentials of other nations today? What would America say to Mamadi Doumbouya, the Interim President of Guinea when, not if he decides to replace his military fatigue with a kaftan and do a Lansana Conteh? Paul Biya of Cameroon became Africa’s longest serving President yesterday, when he became the President on the 6th of November 1982-(40 years ago). What lectures can America offer this octogenarian on democracy?
I know a small country where the ruling party has proposed that “proportional representation” (PP) is the best foot forward in its embryonic democracy. It has floated PP as the best formula since “Cow & Gate”. The opposition has already cried foul. Does that count as “election denying” or should there be a referendum on that? Just asking on behalf of my cousin.
If Americans think that Democracy is at risk only in America, think again. If Americans think that Trump is a danger to only American democracy, think again. If Americans think that their midterm elections is about “saving Democracy” only in America, think again.
If Americans think that Trump is only a danger to America and American Democracy, think again. Trump is a danger to democracy worldwide, and in effect a danger to world peace. Republicans should remember this: There was America before Trump. There will be America after Trump. The question is, what America do they want after Trump?