jueves, 24 de noviembre de 2016

MercatorNet: American democracy is still an example for Africa

MercatorNet: American democracy is still an example for Africa
American democracy is still an example for Africa

American democracy is still an example for Africa

Free and fair elections are still a rarity in most of Africa.
Mathew Otieno | Nov 24 2016 | comment 

The headline ‘Never again’ refers to violence surrounding the 2013 election in Kenya.
The Daily Nation was credited with helping the movement that returned multiparty
democracy to Kenya. Has it changed its mind about democracy?
Photo: AP via The Independent

Racist. Xenophobic. Intolerant. Bigot. Sexist. Ignorant. Cavalier. Unfit. These choice terms have recently been joined by “President-elect of the United States” in describing Donald Trump, the man at the center of the most shocking electoral victory in the history of the United States. The shock of his election three weeks ago is yet to wear off for most media houses and their pundits, whose coverage of the man is still heavily seasoned with skepticism if not ridicule.
Their biased coverage makes for some very musty reading. And a lot of reading it has been. Entire home-pages of some online news sites still have Trump’s name in literally all headlines. Comedians, likewise, have been on a roll. The US-based South African comedian Trevor Noah even had the cheek to compare Trump to his country’s president, Jacob Zuma, and sound off on the possibilities of an American version of an African dictator. I hope his tongue was very firmly in cheek, for such a comparison is sure to be riddled with inaccuracies.
Noah is not the only African who thinks Americans have jeopardized their democracy by electing a man who was clearly the worst possible choice. Across Africa, the idea that Americans actually are not much better than the rest of us has gained currency. According to many, America now lacks the moral high ground to educate Africans on the merits of democracy. Stated more clearly, if America can elect an obviously flawed candidate, what business has it in trying to build "leadership and democracy in Africa?"
But this is a hard argument to substantiate, and it is not helped by the sanctimonious manner in which it has been made. First, even African media houses have been biased about this election from the beginning. For instance, Kenya's Daily Nation, the country's largest newspaper, at the tail end of a period of overwhelmingly positive coverage of Clinton, announced Trump's election with the headline "America does the unthinkable!" The subtitle was even more dramatic. Waxing lyrical about Hillary's experience and implicitly (and ignorantly) blaming her loss on her gender, the Nation roundly insulted Trump as an "showman with the morals of an alley cat.”
Having been fed on this kind of vitriol, it is not surprising that the opinions of ordinary Africans should be so extreme. But that does not make this opinion correct. What many do not realise is that nowhere is it mentioned that the merits of a democracy are not to be found in the quality of candidates electors have to choose from – although this would be a really welcome bonus – but rather in the free exercise of that choice. And on this count the Americans are aeons ahead of most Africans.
While the naysayers were busy criticising America’s democratic credentials, they forgot that Trump was actually elected by the American people, without a single contravention of the rules of their democracy. Unlike in most of Africa, the system worked, from the first ballot to the last one. Unlike in most of Africa, Americans could follow the process as it went along, without any grounds to fear that the vote would be manipulated beyond the ballot box. And, unlike in most of Africa, the exercise was unhindered by the attempts of the incumbent to overstay his term. This is something very few Africans can hope for, let alone boast of. And that is without saying that African countries do not exactly field the most virtuous presidential candidates.
Despite some vociferous street protests, a peaceful transition is now underway in America. Few African countries have a tradition of peaceful transitions. However radical the result may have been, Americans exercised their rights. The implications of this may be mind-boggling for those convinced that Trump was a terrible choice. But it is precisely for this reason that this election does not herald the fall of American democracy; rather, it is one of the clearest manifestations of its effectiveness. The will of the people, from whom the sovereignty of a state ultimately derives, won out in the end. If this indicates a loss of moral high ground, Africa never had the high ground to call it in the first place.
The choice a country makes as to who will be its leader and primary representative certainly reflects the undercurrents at play in that country, but condemning the system that enables the making of this choice is at best naive and, at worst, stupid. Subsequently using this erroneous conclusion to dismiss the example the system provides is infantile and ill-informed. In the last analysis, American democracy remains robust and healthy. The example it provides for African states could not be plainer.
Mathew Otieno writes from Nairobi, Kenya. 

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the United States and time for the rest of us to say thank you to the US for being the world leader in gratitude. Is there any other nation that sets aside a day of national Thanksgiving? Could any country, including America, agree today on what to give thanks for, let alone whom to thank?
So, thank God for a tradition that goes back more than 200 years, when the answer to those questions was obvious. Thus George Washington, at the behest of Congress, proclaimed the 26th of November 1789
A day of public thanksgiving and prayer devoted to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,  including the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness,and for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed.
(BTW Shannon Roberts has posted George Washington’s “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” – all 110 of them – to enhance your Thanksgiving experience.)
Even more famously, Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, listed everything from fruitful fields and healthful skies, through the orderly conduct of the civil war and the growth of production and population, to the nation’s augmented strength and vigoramong the bounties of divine providence:
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
Lincoln's acknowledgement of civil strife and prayer for healing the wounds of the nation will strike a chord with many today:
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
President Obama's 2016 proclamation, though quite nice, never achieves the resonance of his predecessors' proclamations, perhaps  because he never manages to mention God, without whom a national act of thanksgiving loses its point somewhat:
On this holiday, we count our blessings and renew our commitment to giving back. We give thanks for our troops and our veterans -- and their families -- who give of themselves to protect the values we cherish; for the first responders, teachers, and engaged Americans who serve their communities; and for the chance to live in a country founded on the belief that all of us are created equal. But on this day of gratitude, we are also reminded that securing these freedoms and opportunities for all our people is an unfinished task. We must reflect on all we have been afforded while continuing the work of ensuring no one is left out or left behind because of who they are or where they come from.
We know some Americans are not feeling very grateful about the election results. That’s tough for the unbelievers among them. The rest, though, can be thankful that what the Lord has given, he can also take away.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers!

Carolyn Moynihan
Deputy Editor,

The alt right, Donald Trump, and - oddly enough - Darwin
By Denyse O'Leary
Anyone not committed to Darwinian survival of the fittest cannot be 'alt right'.
Read the full article
Lessons from democratic Athens: the art of exiling your enemies
By Chris Mackie
The ancient Greeks had a unique way of dealing with disruptive politicians.
Read the full article
George Washington’s rules of civility
By Shannon Roberts
How do you measure up?
Read the full article
Is domestic violence all about gender inequality?
By David Quinn
If we are really concerned about violence against women and children we cannot be silent about family structure.
Read the full article
American democracy is still an example for Africa
By Mathew Otieno
Free and fair elections are still a rarity in most of Africa.
Read the full article
The political power of rural USA
By Marcus Roberts
And that's the way the Constitution designed it.
Read the full article
Intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe and North America
By Massimo Introvigne
There is a slippery slope from intolerance, to discrimination, to hate crimes and hate speech
Read the full article
Star Wars goes Rogue – but will this risky move backfire?
By Peter Allen
The first of the Star Wars spin-off films opens next month
Read the full article
Free speech is at grave risk on university campuses
By Frank Furedi
“I believe in free speech, but…” is fast becoming the new normal in the academy
Read the full article
Should government talk more about the risks of hormonal contraception?
By Helen M. Alvaré
Depression, blood clots, disease and other harms take a back-seat to birth control.
Read the full article

MERCATORNET | New Media Foundation
Suite 12A, Level 2, 5 George Street, North Strathfied NSW 2137, Australia

Designed by elleston
New Media Foundation | Suite 12A, Level 2, 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | AUSTRALIA | +61 2 8005 8605

No hay comentarios: