19th century senator Matthew Stanley Quay said, “If you have a weak candidate and a weak platform, wrap yourself up in the American flag and talk about the Constitution”.
As a keen fan and observer of American politics and its commentary, I have always seen America in two halves. An America before the collapse of the World Trade Centre and a nation’ ugly might in response to 9/11.
9/11 was an opportunity for America to rebuild its fledgling image of a Western bully that imposes its imperialistic aspirations. Much of the Muslim world, Asia and the South American countries viewed American democracy as a euphemism for unbridled oppression.
This distrust was justified because of American CIA operatives intervening in a dozen countries and more for the upholding of democracy. In truth, it was the vested interest of American capitalistic markets swooping down unto the less developed countries to satiate their economic thirst. The word ‘exceptionalism’ comes to my mind when I think of the divine right to bring liberty and democracy to the rest of humanity. America was, and is a global sheriff. Martin Luther King described America as ‘the greatest purveyor of violence’. He was killed by the CIA.
Post American 9/11 has only intensified American distrust. Osama bin Laden aimed to do maximum damage by killing as many people in America, but his biggest achievement will be in spreading the distrust of American people and its polity. In its thirst for vengeance, America invaded Iraq (no relation to 9/11) sent troops to Afghanistan and mercilessly shot many civilians in the process. The notorious Homeland Security and detention laws have only compounded a passageway for American jingoism to express itself.
President Barack Obama, after 3 months of his office, made his clarion call to the Muslim world in Cairo. He has labored to distance this chasm between the Muslims and America. May it be the Cordoba project or the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay, make no mistake of it, Obama has not pandered to populist rhetoric. No wonder a Gallup poll concluded that a good 44% of the Americans think Obama is a Muslim.
After the disaster in the name of George W. Bush, American politics is replete with one word or one person, based on where your ideological preferences lie; Jesus.
Jesus is the man to look upon if you want to win an American election. Forget the constitution, economy and other pressing matters. Jesus can win you an election and can put you in the White House. He has absolute powers in Washington D.C.
Before the collapse of 9/11, American candidates, as Matthew Stanley validates, held the American constitution as a supreme force. Most candidates invoked the role of the founding fathers in framing the constitution and their swearing allegiance to their vision. Recent examples of Republican presidential primaries are alarming fundamentalist in tone and populist in appeasement.
Consider the flowing video when Republican presidential aspirant, Michelle Bachmann claims that she is a fool for Christ and how God told her to run for Congress;
Her entire campaign is replete with Jesus, the denouncing of the theory of evolution and many more. Then there are the usual, or should I say, unusual gaffes, including denouncing Lion King as gay propaganda and calling on Glenn Beck to solve the debt crisis. Surely does add humour to the otherwise dull political environment.
She also famously claimed that the Hurricane Irene was sent by God to purge us of our sins. How very reassuring. Later she corrected herself by insisting that it was a ‘metaphor’. Hmm… Digest that.
Republican aspirant Rick Perry, who happens to be from the lovely state of Texas which gave us both, Senior and Junior Bush, believes that the climate change theory as a "contrived phony mess".
He has called for an anti gay prayer event, invited people to pray for rain, believes that God is to blame for the recession and we should not work on the 7th day. On America’s problems, Rick Perry says, “I think it's time for us to just hand it over to God and say, God, You’re going to have to fix this.”
"Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles."
As much as I have respect for God and Jesus as popular folktales, blindly thrusting the world’s problems on both of them will not help, unless of course, if that can translate into votes.
The ‘war on terrorism’ started with God’s secret whisperings in George Bush’s ear, and today, God visits Earth every night and counsels Republican candidates to follow his divine path.
American foreign policy has been dictated by this reckless notion and public paranoia only empowers politicians. This is Osama bin Laden’s biggest victory and as we stand today, America looks like a battered nation, economically, culturally and in foreign diplomacy. Militarily, it still is a super-power, but, how long will it be able to exercise its might when developing countries are finding their own.
P.S. In the run up to the 2012 elections, Barack Obama, in his speech for passing of the ‘American Jobs Act’, said, "We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. Reassuring indeed.