This was first published on the 10 of February this year. It was meant to point at how “African” American politics is when partisan interests played a significant role in the Trump impeachment saga. A write-up is a historical document. Therefore, I see the need to republish it now after its presidential election that has grabbed global attention. It is an election in which President Donald Trump is desperately trying to prove that he has the African gene in him.
The sort of partisan divide seen in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, America’s 45th president is an eye-opener to the hypocrisy of America and its brand of democracy. A brand of democracy we, who are not as polished, had adopted.
In the ongoing impeachment drama, each party man is toeing the path of his party irrespective of the facts on the table. We were led by the nose to believe that such placement of an individual’s interest above national interest can only be found with us “uncivilised” Africans and other lesser mortals of South America and Asia or so, as the Americans and their European sidekicks have been hammering into our consciousness for long.
In Africa, a president can only be impeached if he allows it. Even if all the legislators were from an opposition party, African presidents have many ways to keep them in check. The president can use state power to force them into line.
He can also open the vaults of the nation to make everyone happy. He can also mobilise “elders” and traditional leaders to talk them out of their “adolescent political behaviour”.
The gullible masses can also be mobilised to give “hell” to legislators whenever they come home. Nobody looks at the national interest. Generally, at least two of the above methods or all of the four are deployed.
In Nigeria, opening the vaults, termed the “Ghana Must Go” approach, quickly does the trick. But by and large, it may not even reach to that point as the president will bring in enough members of the opposition to his party since he can dole out juicy state patronage to the “good boys”.
In Africa, it is a given that a president is generally accepted to be above the law even if not lawless, while in America, as proved by the American Senate dominated by Republicans, a president can also be subtly above the law and even be lawless.
The difference between them and us is basically in manners. While they can show good manners, organisation, and decorum in their interactions and showmanship towards the due process, we are crude and unorganised, exposing our base interests openly and many a time engaging in fisticuffs.
The idea of the American founders and framers of its constitution is for its elected officials to safeguard the country from foreign control, manipulation and domination.
Since its founding, America has lived up to that expectation. Seen as a free country and defender of individuals’ freedoms all over the world, America’s brand of democracy is seen as the ultimate system of government.
However, along the line, deviations from the ideal of the country’s founders started creeping in. America, founded by people who craved freedom and self-expression and fought off the British Empire to achieve just that, began siding with oppressors to the chagrin of the oppressed.
America backed the apartheid regimes in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe till people’s power, coupled with third world countries, with the active support of the then Organisation of African Unity led by Nigeria, and communist nations led by the then Soviet Union and Cuba, forced apartheid to come to an inglorious end.
America took part in, or spearheaded the killings of progressive third world leaders and encouraged regime changes all over the place, replacing nationalistic governments with pliant regimes; some of them bloody dictators, as long as its interests were served.
While the country encourages (more like subtle blackmail and coercion) other countries to adopt its system of democracy, it dines and wines with oppressive dictatorships and monarchs in Asia and Arabia.
American interest in freedom, self-expression, and egalitarianism was just what it was – lip service. To it, any regime is OK so long as it serves its interest.
Nonetheless, before the Trump impeachment drama, which has opened the eyes of people around the world, one might be forgiven to assume its political leadership did EVERYTHING with American national interest in mind. Unfortunately and sadly, the scales are off, and we now know their politicians are just like ours, save for the sophistry.
Since the American election of 2016 in which Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton, it has come to light that there was interference in that election by Russia in favour of the incumbent.
That outcry necessitated investigation after investigation, chief and all-encompassing being that by Robert Muellar, a former special counsel for the United States Department of Justice, christened The Muellar Report.
Many Americans, including those in the Republican Party as well as Democrats, believe it to be true that Russia tilted that election towards Trump. If that was so, then Donald Trump has been held by the balls, and the implication is that Russia now dictates where and what America goes or does.
Ronald Reagan took advantage of the glasnost and perestroika (opening and restructuring policy) by Mikhail Gorbachev to dismember the behemoth USSR that had been at cold war with his country since after World War 1.
But now, the quintessential Vladimir Putin is giving one back to America by holding its president on a leash. Such high-wire politics and machinations cannot go unnoticed and undocumented by Israel’s Mossad.
As sure as the sun rises, the Israelis must know everything about this “secret” and the process that led to it. Because of this, they are guaranteed to get whatever they want from Trump’s America.
Therefore not a few in America believe that Putin engineered the delay in Trump releasing military aid to Ukraine, an American ally at war with Russia. This is one, but what came out in the open and what informed the impeachment in the first place is the alleged request by Trump that newly elected Ukrainian president, Mr Volodymyr Zelensky, must announce an investigation of Mr Joe Biden, US Vice President under Barack Obama and potentially Trump’s most potent Democratic foe in the upcoming election.
It is thought by those who believe in America’s democracy, patriotism and nationalism that its Congress will jettison party loyalty and individual political interests to confront this great tragedy and threat to their country’s existence, a risk far more significant than all the dangers it faced during the years of the cold war.
It was also expected that America’s Senate would frown at the disregard shown to the House by the president if only to strengthen the legislature’s independence and ability to perform oversight functions that the American system promised.
It was also expected that the Senate would call for additional witnesses in light of more revelations to arrive at the truth of Trump’s complicity, or otherwise, in the Ukrainian quid pro quo allegation.
None of these happened as Republican senators even though agreed their president did wrong said they won’t sanction his impeachment because of elections coming up this November.
The elections and their electoral success are, to them, far more important than America. That’s the implication.
Does this remind you of African politics? Well, the scales are now off: America is no better than us except for etiquette, courtesy, organisation, seeming adherence to due process and show of freedom. The country and its democracy have been demystified.
I fear for my country. As a people who claim to copy the American system, what is going on at the moment will further embolden desperate politicians who can do anything for their personal gain to the detriment of society and democracy.
Already, what is happening in Imo State Assembly following the removal of the Governor Emeka Ihedioha by the Supreme Court is a pointer to the fact that the lawmakers have quickly learned from their masters that in the new democracy, there is no place for right and wrong, just narrow interest.
American democracy is a sham. One may argue it’s with the politicians. But any system of governance that allows the selfish to escape sanction and the power to have his way is a sham. And any people that would enable personal gain over collective gain cannot be role models.
American democracy is dead.
It is dead because it has outlived its value, just like communism. It is a pity for those of us who hitherto believed the American model to be the ideal in the world. We had better start looking for a better alternative. And it must be an alternative that guarantees equality in the eyes of the law and fairness in the temple of justice.