Letter to Uncle Sam
I know that the prevailing situation in the Middle East remains a matter of deep concern for your administration; that the budget is still pending until a consensus is found between Dems and Reps; that the cuts and other proposals of Reps may affect the lives of the have-nots and the middle class; that managing the economy so that wealth and job creation are permanently back across the US requires your administration’s daily and undivided attention. All these and other global issues in connection with peace and security, the world economy, democracy or the fight against “goundaas” (a diplomatic “bhojpuri” word for terrorists) are of great concern for all.
But something quite funny crossed my attention this week and I have preferred to stay tuned to one domestic issue, which is politics. You know, Uncle, here politics is the favourite sport, one that folks admire a lot. They are just a click away in case you need them in 2012.
At this time four years back, the world already took cognizance of the identities of those who wanted to join the presidential race. We were then in February 2007 and nearly 20 months away from polling day.
Folks here are very much surprised that Reps, even after winning a large Congress majority in the mid-term polls a couple of months ago, are still hesitant to declare trumps. At a scheduled meeting in Iowa a few days back, some GOP stalwarts have preferred to ignore the subject. May be the absence of two or three other possible contenders from GOP ranks has put off their enthusiasm to touch on the issue.
This attitude of Reps gave birth to quite amusing comments from the media; like this one – voters were looking for candidates to support; but candidates were little interested in voters’ concerns. And then there was this one – may be Reps have now found out that the sitting President won’t be an easy prey in the coming presidential race.
Uncle, I don’t think you have much to do between now and the next 10-12 months. In Creole folks here will tell you: better “manze pistasse guette cinema” (another way to say keep cool and enjoy the show) during this period. Why? Because Reps, sooner or later, will be forced to announce their intentions and the race for the GOP nomination will keep them busy for at least some long months while they get engaged in internal fights. But don’t think any one of them will leave you unscratched. Of course, they will hit hard at you. I am sure you will rest on your political laurels all this time; and that you will keep driving fast to reach the political centre of American politics by November next year.
I have gone through the speech you made in Springfield, Illinois, to announce your candidacy in 2007 and some others made when you and Senator McCain were in the final race. From the legacy inherited from George W. and your own campaign promises, and from the work accomplished over the past two years by your administration both on the domestic front and on international issues, folks here remain confident that the foundation to change the “ways of Washington” has been laid. But the pace of the work needs to be accelerated.
In terms of leadership, both internal and international, there is no big cause for concern. The tone and language of US diplomacy have helped to win the respect of others across continents. At home, US citizens still feel there is much power in your words; there is much power in your conviction; and the power of hope born in 2007-08 has not completely died down.
The “goundaas” are under surveillance worldwide; Iraq will be history in a few years’ time; but Afghanistan and Pakistan still remains tough nuts to crack. The unexpected eruption of Main Street in the Arab world, though not surprising, and the prevailing ground conditions there are manageable. How the international community will join hands to shape the region’s future in terms of socio-political stability, democratic values, freedom, justice for all, and a development process that takes Main Street’s concerns on board is yet to be seen.
Uncle, politics will be a matter of concern for us too here this year. Folks will go to polls may be some time by the end of this year to elect their municipal and village councillors. But I need to honestly admit that for the past decades our political pundits have more or less favoured incompetence and amateurism as guidelines in the selection of candidates. This is the root problem of local election. And of course, we reap what we sow. The amount of accumulated wrongdoing is simply unbelievable.
Uncle, if you want to really understand what democracy is about here, I suggest we go back to your Springfield speech wherein you said – “…After the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.” Some years earlier, I recall you said that what is most important in a democracy is what happens between two elections.
Again, after each election here, folks are left to fend for themselves — promises are forgotten; campaign financiers take over policy making; most decisions taken on important issues favour friends, political agents and all “cousins cousines” from all backgrounds. And they don’t pretend; they think and believe they own the government. This is where money politics has taken us.
Uncle, I am sorry to admit again that many of your ideas on a range of subjects – from education to business — are politically incompatible with local realities. Here they never fight ideas with better ideas; they never fight arguments with better arguments; and they sometimes fight ideas and arguments with shameful and despicable ideas and arguments.
Democracy may be the best among the worst systems of government. Still, like deregulation or globalisation, it does not, in practice, have all the answers to peoples’ dreams and aspirations. We see it in the US; we see it here and everywhere. Though we believe it could — if only it could be perfected.
* Published in print edition on 11 March 2011