Abdulai Mansaray: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 August 2021:
There is no doubt that among the various reasons for losing the 2020 Presidential Elections, ranging from financial, moral and ethical considerations, Donald Trump’s recklessness in dealing with the pandemic was the last nail to his coffin.
Over half a million American lives were avoidably lost in the process. Joe Biden’s tenancy to The White House coincided with the breakthrough with the vaccines, though Trump had ironically set the wheels in motion. By the Republican party standards, it looked like any success with the vaccines and eventual curbing of the pandemic, under Biden’s watch would be a big blow to their hopes of a political comeback. It therefore came as no surprise that they rallied to gridlock any opportunity in the fight against the pandemic.
Notwithstanding the frivolous claims, recounts and conspiracy theories about the integrity of the elections, Trump’s nefarious attempt to engineer a coup on January 6th was a classic example of a fallen emperor in his death throes. But even with the availability of vaccines, and while the virus continues to mutate into more deadly variants, it is inconceivable that the Republican party would promote vaccine hesitancy and anti-mask mandates.
Even as we go to press, a high percentage of patients threatening to run the health service to the ground are the unvaccinated. Interestingly, the majority of those is in Republican held states.
Even when the evidence is staring them in the face, and with the death toll rising by the hour, Republicans like Matt Gaetz, Governor Ron DeSantis, Kristi Noem and Marjorie Taylor Greene are feverishly promoting anti vaccine rhetoric, seemingly out of fear that success in the fight against the pandemic would aid Joe Biden and hurt them politically. It is in response to such crass behaviour that a group of 75 Florida doctors staged a walkout on Monday, to protest the number of unvaccinated patients flooding their hospital in Palm Beach Gardens.
But what drives people to sacrifice and risk their lives and that of others in such behaviour of self-harm? With 85% of the ICU beds in the state full, and with Florida leading the nation in daily average cases and hospitalisations, you wonder what drives Governors like Matt Gaetz to such desperate and irrational thought process. You sometimes wonder at what drives people to follow Trump’s anti-vaccine drama, knowing full well that he was hospitalised with Covid and subsequently but secretly took the vaccine himself. Is this what politics has become now, a blood sport that has morphed into self-hate?
Trump helped create the anti-vaccine monster and is now afraid of it. Trump spent his entire presidency undermining health professionals and scientists. During his latest rally in Cullman, Alabama last week, he urged people to take the vaccine, but he was booed by a sizable section of the crowd. He has single-handedly created a longer-term health crisis out of political expediency.
Trump and the Republican party have created the monster, which is now holding the whole of America hostage to the pandemic. Sadly, the antivaccine stance has been laced with religious fervour, which is another toxic ingredient of the political menu. It is scant surprise that some have been using adulterated biblical links to translate the pandemic to their followers. Talk of the mark of the beast.
But as the” honour” in “honourable members of parliaments” quietly dissipates into thin air, the electorates world-wide are barely left to look for honour among thieves. This is a universal trend that is insidiously seeping through our societies and communities. So, what happened to “the common good”? Our societies seem to focus more on our differences and what divide us than our common strength.
In my neck of the woods in years gone by, and long before the Bumbuna Hydro-electric Project was completed in 2007, Freetown had an unchallenged monopoly on “the darkest city in the world”. It will be disingenuous to say that the electricity supply in the country and particularly Freetown, is up to maximum standards.
But there is no denying the fact that much has improved over the years. The days of “Kabba Tiger” are slowly becoming a thing of the past, in many places. Sadly, there has been a “rising number of incidents involving the vandalising and stealing of electricity cables and equipment at installations and networks across the country by criminals” (Sierraleonetelegraph.com). With less than 20% of households in Sierra Leone with continuous access to electricity, this has not only caused power outage but also outrage from communities.
Stealing electric cables and equipment at installations and networks across the country is nothing short of national self-hate. Despite their criminal intent, there have been some murmurings that these are politically motivated acts of sabotage against the government. There is no known proof that this is the case.
But it just goes to show to what lengths people are ready to go, in their pursuit of malfeasance. Interestingly, these are the same people (enemies of the state) who would lead the queue in condemning the electricity situation in the country. People complain about shortage of pipe borne water. But it is the same people who criminally cut the pipes at various points to siphon water to their households. Some social media posts show people removing asphalt on newly constructed roads; much to the jubilation of some onlookers. The same people will complain about bad roads but glorify the criminal behaviour and triumphantly share such despicable on social media platforms.
Has politics become so bad that we are refusing to see the good in others? Why have we lost the sense of common good? Irrespective of your political persuasion, do these people realise that the failure of any government is a failure of the state, which includes you, me and our unborn generations? Do they think that dimming someone else’s light would make their own light brighter?
Donald Trump and the Republican party have become the proverbial axe that keeps shrinking the forest, while telling the trees that it is one of them because its handle is made of wood. But with the Republican Party’s recalcitrant anti vaccine stance in the fight against the pandemic, there’s plausible evidence that the monster they created will boomerang in their face.
With hospitalisations and rates of infections rising, Trump and his acolytes are running scared. Prominent politicians, popular anti-vaccine radio hosts and social media commentators have lost their battles against the virus. Many have been quoted as expressing regret for not taking the vaccine, and urging others to do so, as their last words. But after sowing the seeds of distrust, hatred, paranoia and abject delusion, is it any wonder that his tame effort to put the genie back in the bottle was met with boos and jeers from his faithfully gullible followers? They will face the decision to stick or twist soon.
So where do we go from here?
Politicians have always been on opposite sides of the aisle. But there is a growing trend of “negative partisanship” that is steeped in hatred. Politicians know that elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody. Driven by such animosity, we now see politicians sever any ties with reason, logic, ethics and even common sense, just to demonstrate their loathing of the opposing party. Gone are the days when the identity of a political party was rooted in its policies, ideology and standards. Instead of a shared sense of purpose, the only denominator that seems to unite political parties these days is the sheer hatred of the other side.
Our politicians have gone Machiavellian to achieve their goals. That is why they use whatever it takes; from religion, tribe, region, gender, class, race, lies, everything and anything to pitch us against one another. Those days when politicians canvassed for your loyalty are long gone. Instead, they are using fear, and especially anger as the main tools of their trade. They target our anger, to generate extreme loathing for the other side. But for these politicians to succeed, they tap into our ignorance and gullibility. (Photo: Abdulai Mansaray).
Forget about the Taliban. The greatest threat that could lead to the collapse and destruction of democracy around the world is extreme partisan animosity. And there can be no greater threat to democracy, and in effect society than this newly globalised trend.
Politics is in a sad state, but it is up to you, me and everyone to see through prisms of hatred, to stop this threat. Terrorism and the threat to democracy is no longer solely international; it is inbred and becoming fratricidal.
Should I fall out with Ngor Mannah because he is a Mende man? Should I join forces with Santigie because we both come from Makeni? Why should I hate Sahr Kpakima because he comes from Kono District? Should I terminate my tenancy because my landlord supports the SLPP?
Why should I stop talking to Pa Sorie because his Mende wife is from Bunumbu? If SLPP and APC supporters can watch Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City play in the same cinema hall, why can’t we work together for the benefit of us all, in the same country? If we allow democracy to fail, so would our communities.
You Can’t Be Safer Than Safe Go Get the Vaccine.