Published On: October 22, 2020 07:00 AM NPT By: Babu Ram Neupane
I lost my democracy and freedom to speak the truth the very day I lost my brother. A compassionate and empathic Biden can never be likened with ruthless communists on any counts and measures.
Democracy is personal to me. That’s why I vote and always vote for democracy.
As I grew eligible to vote in the general elections in the aftermath of restoration of democracy (in 1990) in Nepal, communists outnumbered democrats in our village in Lamjung district. Fortunately democrats used to prevail in the district wide and parliamentary elections. Then the Maoist came on the scene and I did not have to go to the village to vote because they would do that for me for the candidates of their liking. Then I registered myself in Kathmandu and voted in the second Constituent Assembly elections held in November in 2013 for a candidate (who also won) of a so-called democratic party, which is currently in a total disarray and on the verge of extinction.
Race for White House
Now I find myself in the opposite side of the globe trying to make sense of general elections in the state of North Carolina (where I live) in Americas, one of the battleground states considered crucial to paving the way to the White House for Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden. They are fighting tooth and nail to earn NC’s 15 Electoral College votes to add to their column to cross the magic figure of 270 Electoral College votes that elevates one to the White House. The final stretch of election to be held on November 3 is so intense that we are besieged by political advertisements on all platforms we turn to.
I eschew social media but I can’t avoid being inundated with the campaign ads that are broadcast round the clock on television channels but it gets bizarre around the prime time. Apart from the presidential campaign ads from Trump or Biden, US Senate and US House campaigns compete to persuade us to cast our votes in their favor. Watching TVs these days is tantamount to watching campaign ads. Even the news is dominated by the polls, political analysis and campaign news.
The only way to stay sane is to switch off the TVs and dash out of home to experience the fresh aroma of the wonderful fall season. The colorful leaves fall gently from the trees while the birds look on and wonder about nature’s wonders. It is as exhilarating as watching excited young bucolic lads and lasses belonging to peasant families briskly reaping grass and fantasizing about new dresses for Dashain. Alas, how blessed and happy they are!
Trump’s ad wants me to believe that Joe Biden is a puppet of ‘radical left’ or communist, who will take my freedom away. It does not make any sense at all. To me, the radical leftists are the heartless and savage Maoists of Nepal, who murdered my eldest brother who was a beloved high school teacher back in the village eighteen years ago. He was more of a best friend than a brother although we had our own eternal fights. He stood firm in favor of democracy.
I lost my democracy and freedom to speak my heart out and truth the very day I lost him. A compassionate and empathic Biden can never be likened with ruthless communists on any counts and measures. He may be a flawed and gaffe prone politician but he is as vulnerable as an average human being and thus making him humane and likable unlike Trump.
Here it’s relevant to note that I have found immigrants of Cuban and Venezuelan origin to be the weirdest sub-segment of voters in America, who overwhelmingly support Trump as they deem him to be anti-communist because he claims to be so for the sole reason of his political gain because he knows Americans loathe communists. But what Americans fail to notice is the fact that Trump has always romanticized his relationship with Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s ruthless dictator, declares that he has fallen in love with him, gets along with him very well and has received several ‘beautiful love letters’ from the dictator.
Behavior speaks louder than words. I find Trump’s hobnobbing with dictators troubling and so do many Americans. But it seems lost on some Americans of Latin American origin. Amassing unconditional support from such naïve voters through hollow denunciation of tyrants is another success of Donald Trump. If you hate Cuba’s Fidel Castro, you can’t love North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and the people who befriend and love them. It’s plain and simple: In politics, the friend of your enemy is your enemy too.
But Trump is made of different clay. He defies all conventional political norms and traditions. He projects a macho image even in the worst of circumstances. He was knocked down by the coronavirus compelling him to spend three nights at a military hospital, where he received the best medical care and treatment that comprised of a powerful steroid, a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies and Remdesivir, an antiviral drug. Both of the latter drugs are reported to contain tissues derived from aborted fetuses according to The New York Times.
Ironically, he is the darling of the anti-abortion movement which comprises of a large swathe of voters with Republican bent of mind and impeccably conservative credentials. American politics abounds in absurdity and verges on ambiguity. Trump recuperated and flew back to the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One (presidential chopper), “disembarked after a few moments and walked to the building, pausing repeatedly to offer a thumbs-up or a half-fist-punch for the cameras. Then he climbed the curved staircase, reached the balcony, and removed his mask in what appeared to be a gesture of defiance,” as noted by Jack Holmes. Apparently, he seemed struggling to breathe in front of the whole world.
Trump is obsessed with masculinity at all times. “What Trump most fears and denies is weakness…I am not a sick person, ever’ is how he sees himself…He has always defined every outcome as a victory even when it wasn’t…Trump’s advantage in promoting himself is that a victory is a victory, but he also declares victory in defeat,” according to Tony Schwartz, as quoted in politico.com.
Trump hates losing to the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, (whom he often mocks calling “Sleepy Joe” and “the worst candidate in the history of politics”). He recently thought aloud while addressing a Make America Great Again rally: “I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.” The monologue of self-exile is nothing more than a vote extracting ruse from the MAGA universe that gets carried away by the façade of Trump’s circus nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment. Last week, he even beseeched with the suburban women of America to like him as the polls are depicting an enormous erosion of support from him among this group.
Trump is an inveterate entertainer who goes to any extent to please the crowd (read MAGA universe) he loves and adores, and vice versa. He is suffused with so much superfluous energy that he recently declared at a rally: "I feel so powerful I'll walk into that audience. I'll walk in there. I'll kiss everyone in that audience. I'll kiss the guys and the beautiful woman- I'll just give you a big fat kiss" according to a CNN article. Let’s not forget that he was down with the dangerous virus less than two weeks ago.
Most Americans are conversant with Trump’s pugilistic and aberrant behavior which is unbecoming of a president. As of this writing, he has only 12 percent chance of being reelected to the president based on the latest presidential polls averages according to FiveThirtyEight, which is one of the premier election forecast sites in America. Still, Trump has not relinquished his hopes and keeps fighting to salvage his campaign. He is known for coming from behind strategies and eking out an improbable victory as he did against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
He deserves to be recognized and appreciated for his unparalleled fighting spirit. This is one of the brightest spots in his otherwise oft maligned character. In addition, he rubs his nose against the mainstream American media (which is largely liberal with its Democratic proclivities) with steely determination and remains unfazed. His aversion to the coastal elites and the scientists is the reason behind the gravitational pull of his MAGA supporters some of whom love to live in an alternative world of conspiracy theories.
Trump has cultivated a huge fan following comparable to a cult leader. A New York Times news story stands testimony to it that happened in a southern Indian state of Telangana in which a man is reported to have built a Trump statue and worshipped it. He died upon hearing the news of Trump’s infection with Covid-19 in the safest of all the places in the world: the White House, which has turned out to be one of the unlikeliest Covid-19 hotspots to the chagrin of most Americans who now feel let down by Trump for his reckless behavior and utter failure to handle the public health crisis during a pandemic.
Trump loves to be an iconoclastic politician and a perpetual Washington outsider. He has proven to be a nightmare to the pollsters and the Democrats who are suffering from an elevated level of post traumatic stress disorder owing to the unexpected loss of Hillary Clinton in 2016. The pollsters had predicted a narrow win for Clinton and the Democrats were overconfident about their triumph.
Once bitten twice shy. PTSD has gripped the Democrats so much that they are scared to death of a repeated doomsday scenario on November 3, Election Day, despite a difference to Clinton’s single digit lead of 3-percentage points (within the margin of error) at this time in 2016 with Biden’s yawning double digit lead. The element of uncertainty adds to the beauty of a democratic process.
One can see a disproportionate number of MAGA yard signs when one ventures deeper into rural America where confidence meets excitement. The silent majority of Trump supporters in 2016 have evolved as the most raucous group. It is the Biden supporters who seem to have fallen silent this time. One can see motley of political signs around traffic stops and crossings along the urban and suburban streets where doubt permeates knowledge and uncertainly still looms large. Nobody knows who wins for sure.
The mail-in ballot arrived in my mailbox. I started filling the circles before the candidates’ names with black ink from the safety of my couch. It was time consuming to vote for thirty five candidates from president to the district education board. I voted carefully because I know my freedom depends on it. And dropped the ballot in the mailbox and tracked it until it was accepted.
Democracy is personal to me because my eldest brother who was also my best friend sacrificed his life for it. That is why I voted and voted for democracy in America. Come November 3, I am pretty confident my vote will be counted and democracy will win.
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