Dr James Kootoor
Man proposes, God disposes! Triumph of Donald Trump, 70 years young, but oldest ever to become US president, is proof you can never trust people’s judgments starting with your own. CCV was terribly upset and disappointed already, when Bernie Sanders was sidelined for Clinton to lead the Democratic party. So as in India, there was no candidate to choose from. In fact people were thirsting for change, tired of a two time rule of many unfulfilled promises by Democrats.
But when Obama himself, the ruling president and Michel Obama the first lady put their necks on the block as if for their own election victory – something US presidents never do — we reluctantly thought she might manage to pull through, but failed miserably. The election day itself was memorable, called Super Tuesday and 9/11.
The underdog, Trump called the most divisive, inexperienced in politics seems to have surprised everyone the world over, with his brief-bright-begone victory speech. To the cheering crowd his unexpected words were: “It is time for us to come together as one united people. Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division.” To the “white Americans” WASP(White American anglo-saxon protestant), to revive old memories, he said: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” And he added: “To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans.” He repeated over and over again: “I will never ever let you down!”
Office Makes the Man
“Office makes the man”, it is said. If the weight of the office of presidency made him rethink globally, it augers well for US and for the whole world. For this we wish him well and extend our sincere congrats for rising up to the demands of his office as President, not just a controversial billionaire with whom the Republicans themselves are not in full agreement. Fact is he wants to make America Great again.
On relations with other countries his comment was: “We will seek common ground, not hostility. Partnership, not conflict.” As for India and Indians, he has professed himself to be a “friend of Hindus” and he was all praise for Indians whom he labelled as brainy and smart. What he wanted of Indians is to stay in US and build America, not to go back after earning degrees there. Already there are five Indians in the US Congress.
What is more his words on Hillary conceding defeat was very gracious: “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for service to the country, I mean that very sincerely.” During the campaign he had called her a liar who should be locked up and other unprintable names. In short the triumph of Trump was a literal repeat of “Brexit”, an explosion of the pent up frustration with the status quo of White people in UK and USA, jobless and slipping out of better possibility and visibility.
What surprised us most and the whole world was the hollowness of the whole election campaign debate which was focussed totally on trivialities, name-calling and vilifying the contestants, instead of discussing burning issues bothering the majority of middle class Americans like domestic insecurity, terrorism, influx of Muslims with radical vision of Islam, racial conflict killing blacks most of the time, job-loss to Mexicans ready to work for $5/- per hour, minimum wage, influx of illegal immigrants, education, and health (threat to scrap Obama care), building walls of division instead of opening boarders, outsourcing, Chinese debt and goods suffocating US, foreign policy and diminishing military might of the country, in short the election promises and platforms for the forthcoming four year period. Usually parties contesting elections publish in advance their policies and promises. Of course these platforms are to run on and not to stay on (stay on and fulfil).
What is worse American media known for its excellence seemed to have chosen play ball with (especially with Hillary) the candidates to please as bedfellows, not critics. The media went the whole hog, to live up to their present de-facto practice of “embedded journalism”. Not only the American media, but print and visual TV and electornic channels seem to have got fooled totally. All predicted a Clinton Victory and wrote off Trump from the realm even of possibility. Some even prepared in advance their cover page for Clinton. She on her part, for comfort, reportedly emerged as the winner of top popular vote catcher. As for electoral votes she could garner only 232 compared to 306 (only 270 needed to win) in a total of 538 electoral votes. Why? Because both the American and World press were totally focussed only on the positive side of Clinton and the negative side of Trump. The fifth estate, supposed to be the watchman, critique of ground realities and predictor of danger signals appearing on the horizon failed miserably in this US elections. (Qui custodiet ipse custodies)Who will guard the guards themselves!
Urgent Need: Change
The need of the day, any day, is not continuity but change for the better. To stay still or to tread beaten track is to slide down, not to go up or make progress. This was immortalized by the famous Ottaviani(cardinal) motto: “Semper Idem”, do the same, never change, which was and still is to some extent, the practice of the Catholic Church which was shell-shocked out of its practice of stagnation by Pope John XXII with his call for aggiornomento (updating) by letting open the closed doors and windows to light and breeze form the outside.
It was this principle that Cardinal Newman hammered in years ago when he said: “It may be different in a higher world! But here below, to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed more often.” That is why a fixed term – 4 year rule – is assigned for US presidency and similar rule for any public office in secular democratic governments. This must also become the thumb rule in the Catholic Church for office bearers – priests and bishops — through constant transfers or retirement, since the proclaimed principle is “Ecclesia simper reformanda” (Church is to be constantly reformed). CCV has to assess happening around and apply them for its own better functioning, so this comment.
The church preaches ad nauseam for change for the better, constant, reform, dialogue, discussion and consensus of the people of God, collegiality, co-responsibility, subsidiarity, in short, all best modern practices of secular institutions, but practices hardly any of them. To start with bishops, they hardly ever consult the laity, never respond even to their legitimate queries, never set up even mandated Parish and Financial committees at parish and diocesan councils. Bishops are elected for life, never retire even when incapacitated on their own like Pope Benedict. So they ought to forfeit their right to preach.
Hoping against Hope
To come back to the topic we started dealing with. President Trump’s elevation to US presidency, is an eye-opener for the whole world. He is a billionaire businessman and real estate Mugul, married thrice with four children, with no experience in politics except his tree failed attempts to run for it.
Recall the monkey jumping for the bitter grapes and not reaching it. But this time he succeeded and succeeded well surprising the world with additional number of votes than required. Still a green horn in politics, the world leaders are vying with one another to get into his good books. Even those who expressed worst fears are now sending best compliments in an effort to make friends and influence people.
Well begun is half done, they say. One who has been notorious for off-the-cup dirty language has started on a very civilized and polite speech of camaraderie, collaboration, cooperation and conflict (enmity) with none, augers well for the defeated candidate Hillary and critiques in US and the all over the world. It is said we all have to live in hope even if we have to die in despair. So may better light lead American democracy the oldest, Indian democracy the largest and all democracies around the world for a better world order building bridges, not walls of separation. God bless Donald Trump, God bless America and God bless the comity of nations working in harmony!
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