If America was a child and the Presidency its Guardian.
America unveiled by 2020 is like a child who has wakened: vulnerable, screaming for attention, for comfort, for nourishment, for touch and connection, for belonging. The child’s development has been compromised by unfit guardianship in the form of poor leadership, increasing poverty, a pandemic ravaging its body with a failing healthcare system for a lifeline.
Troubled by the swift decline of its health and well-being, the child believed a new guardian could raise its quality of care and improve its survival chances. The timing was perfect. The incompetent guardian’s contact had expired and the child was eager to vote him out.
With its vote as a formidable weapon, there was never a better time than the present to use it in self-defense.
Since politics is a game of strategy whereby smooth exteriors appeal better than rough edges, the Democrats enticed the populace so that, frightened, they came to shelter under a Biden-Harris protection from their inept guardian.
Despites the Democrat’s win, Americans would be naive to conclude that a presidency by the Democrats guarantees democracy. For democracy is not in the name, but in a government’s integrity and commitment to upholding truth, justice, and the rule of law without apathy or bias.
Be that as it may, the Democrats’ win means that for Anti-Republicans, their sinking ship — the USS America — has been rescued. Although the rescuers calmed the voyagers’ fears and infused them with the hope of reaching land, the ship is still in grave danger, bombarded by strong waves in the open sea with a safe port far out of view.
American democracy is thus like an old vessel making do with tattered sails and a crew short of supplies, and boasting only of constellations to point them to safe landing. It is a perilous journey to navigate America back to socio-political cohesion with the myriad of problems interwoven within its social fabric.
Also, judging from the blue-red sandwich states of America as reflected in the poll results, political tensions might ride high long after the transfer of power. Consequently, insurmountable challenges may be in store for the new government. In winning the presidency, therefore, the Democrats are like a nanny taking over the care of a sickly, unsettled child, in light of America’s emerging vulnerabilities.
With such challenges barring the way forward for America's socio-economic stability and sound political leadership, reactionary governance, which tends to be the default after ousting an undesired leader, will not do.
Witnessing America in such a precarious state is uncomfortable because hey, this IS America! A country of ingenuity and innovative solutions. It was meant to ‘have got this.’
As a child from a developing country, I grew up romanticizing America. I was wowed by its greatness and believed it to be perfect in everything. Case in point: 10 years ago, an American friend gifted me with a red and black plastic drink bottle, which was probably China-made. To me, however, it was American and consequently as durable as Fort Knox itself. When my prized drink bottle slipped off my hands and crushed onto the hard concrete a few weeks later, a friend asked concernedly: ‘did it break?’
‘It can’t break,’ came my confident reply. ‘It’s American!’
But my confidence turned out to be as plastic as the bottle on which I’d placed it.
My indestructible American bottle had cracked and began to leak. I completed my final semester at the university with damp books in a dripping backpack because I was in denial.
I held on to that cracked bottle for another year. Perhaps I expected the crack to mend itself as I believed America would in the unlikely event that it cracked.
Watching the chaotic and divided America of 2020 in all its myriad of vulnerabilities resurfaced the grief and denial of that cracked American bottle that was meant to last forever.
America the beautiful (And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.), can crack.
America is indeed cracked. There are deep cracks in its democracy (categorized unstable with a score of 7.96/10), its healthcare, its wealth distribution, its education access, and public safety. It is these very cracks and the Republican’s response to them that favored Democrats and handed them the presidency.
But will the Democrats’ policies nd approach to governance heal these and restore unity and faith in America’s collective identity? Are they the right team for the delicate task of restoring socio-political cohesion to salvage democracy? Or will Americans be content with anything but Trumpism?
If poll results were an oracle, then 2020 seems a peculiar time in the United States’ leadership. A time when neither of the candidates presented to voters invoked full confidence as future leaders, depriving the people of a firm choice. The Republican camp was despised, and, calculating, the Democrats leveraged the vulnerabilities of Black and minority voters by presenting Kamala Harris as one of their own, the second black savior after Barrack Obama.
Some voters were ecstatic while others, like 53- year-old Richard Brown, disliked the Democrats enough to not vote at all. To stem the flow of racism that Trumps’ presidency generated among his white friends, however, Mr. Brown saw this election as an opportunity to make a statement against racism by voting for the Democrats. Other minority voters who felt disillusioned by their belief in the Democrats’ inability to mend the system sufficiently enough to positively impact their lifestyles still voted for them because the alternative was to skip the ballot, according to a voter poll by FiveThirtyEight.com.
Additionally, a Black friend of mine who voted for Biden-Harris remarked that although she cared little for the Democrats, she’d ‘vote for doggie poop before she voted for Trump’. Further, with such a narrow win during this election, Biden and Harris might thus not epitomize America’s choice of political leadership. They may represent a lack of it.
In that case, perhaps what America needs is neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, but a complete overhaul of its political structure. The trouble is that traditions being comfortable, the American political scene continues to play catch with its citizens, tossing them from Democrats to Republicans and back again.
Thus, back-and-forth swings the pendulum of American progress in reactive politics, with the incumbent president often attempting to undo some of what their predecessor had accomplished.
Such an approach cannot effectively salvage a vast country of diverse ethnicities and cultures already divided by racial inequities, political camps, and various other grievances.
As Democrats celebrate, it’s still a “long walk to America’s freedom” (Nelson Mandela) in the form of socio-political cohesion for America.
The Democrats’ tenure will be a test in fortitude and creative leadership. They may stay the course with focused integrity to build a cohesive America or get tangled up in reactionary governance that blinds them to a safe course to sail the people’s ship, USS America, to a safe port.
Will the Democrats rebuild American democracy? Cautious to hope, I’ll watch and wait. At least I have that luxury.
Special thanks to my big sister-in-chief, Sis JoMarie, for inspiring these reflections. I love the synergy :-)
P.S. Written from the perspective of a third world child still mourning America, my tarnished golden calf :/ Published on my personal blog on the 13th of December.