Ugandan Diaspora | Editorial | January 2017 | Lets Buckle-Up For The Era of Trump and What Could Be The Rise of Fascism in America?
Greetings and a Happy New Year. President Donald J. Trump assumed the Presidency of America as its 45th Commander in Chief in a country bitterly divided by race and politics. In what some viewed as a repudiation of President Obama’s policies Republicans turned out en masse to elect their man who has refused to make his tax returns public and has never held public office.. But the Dems are now regrouping and Saturday’s march of several million women in Washington and other cities may mark the beginning of a series of moves by the Dems to reorganize at the grass roots levels. Critics have been quick to ask why these crowds did not turn out in similar numbers last November to vote for Hillary Clinton, but they probably did, since Clinton won the popular vote by a considerable margin. Trump has already signed orders defunding Planned Parenthood and barring international non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding. Next will be an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare and his promise to build the wall and restrict immigration to the US.
For those watching Trump’s inauguration it became apparent that he, together with his movement were going to follow the Bush doctrine of you are either with us or against us. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, spoke about crowd size, one of his bosses’ favorite topics during the campaign. In his first White House briefing, Spicer stated that Trump had attracted the biggest crowd of any inauguration (but video and panoramic images of the crowds seem to disprove this). For a man whose show ‘The Apprentice’ enjoyed good ratings for over ten years it will take alot to deflate Trump now that he has defied the Washington establishment and his own party political elite.
There is already talk that Trump’s presidency represents the rise of modern-day fascism, recalling Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, who rose to power riding a wave of populist views that shut out dissenters. With Trump and his angry supporters, who questioned Obama’s birthplace, claiming that he was not eligible to serve as president, we need to buckle up for a bumpy ride ahead. After witnessing first hand how Bush 43 dragged America into two senseless wars, depleting the budget surplus left by his predecessor, we need to pray that a Trump presidency will indeed “make America great again” and not result in a third world war or the apocalypse!
After 8 years in the White House Obama and his administration can be credited with departing scandal-free, even though some of his policies on same-sex marriage and the LGBT movement divided America. Trump is now under increasing scrutiny when it comes to his taxes or business practices. Even after the groping scandals were made public, many did not question whether Trump was morally fit to lead the world’s superpower nation. Trump’s inaugural speech was regarded by most as a radical departure from those made in the past as it did not inspire and rally a nation to unify under new leadership during major crises. His call of putting ‘America First’, is a departure from some of his predecessors and an answer to Globalization!
In my view, the Dems handed Trump this presidency when they blocked Bernie Sanders. The scandals at the Democratic National Committee showed what was wrong with the establishment and Democratic Party as a whole. Wikileaks later exposed these underhand methods that have largely been blamed on Russian hackers. Coupled with all this came talk that Hillary lost in states like Wisconsin that are traditionally democratic because she overlooked the electorate and never bothered to engage the electorate or visit these key democratic constituencies. These blunders would come back to bite Hillary and the Dems resulting in a shellacking at the electoral college though she would win the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes. Hillary won big in California and New York, both heavily populated liberal states, but Trump held his own in rural America, mostly conservative states, allowing Trump to lock in the magic number of electoral votes way ahead of Hillary in the country as a whole. Trump owed his victory of 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227, to wins in the swing states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Trump would do well to realize that he is also President for those who did not vote for him. America is a divided nation and after losing the popular vote by almost 2.9 million votes he needs to build bridges, not walls, if he is to succeed. Others fear that his trigger-happy twitter politics and war with the media might cause his impeachment, given his continued blunders and alignment with extreme right-wing groups. The obsession to repeal Obamacare, overturn NAFTA, get rid of section 8 and make changes to the tax code might be greeted with disdain and result in a loss for the Republicans during mid-term elections. He will need to let his press secretary do the talking instead of relying on his Twitter feed that many have described as an accident waiting to happen. And so we wait to see if, just like his rise to the presidency, Trump will prove us wrong by becoming a great leader for these entire United States!
As we start the new year the story of the defeat of Yahya Jammeh the Gambian leader who was forced out after losing an election and refusing to step down, should put African despots on notice. The resolve of regional institutions like ECOWAS and the UN that have come out to defend emerging democracies is a sign of hope for Africa that has seen leaders overstay their welcome and manipulate electoral processes to keep themselves in power indefinitely. More recently, it was Kabila of the DR Congo who called off elections, deciding to stay on but Jammeh’s unceremonious departure should be a wake up call to those African leaders entertaining the thought of lifting term limits or changing constitutional laws to perpetuate their stay… Why some will prefer to be smoked out of power, as happened to Laurent Gbabo of Ivory Coast is beyond understanding– indeed power corrupts and some of these leaders become so consumed with their egos that nothing they hear or see moves them.
Finally Uganda Cranes needs to be applauded for putting up a good fight. Although we were the first team to be disqualified at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon our boys did try against all odds. After nearly 30 years of international drought Uganda made it and this time put on impressive performances against Ghana and Egypt. If only our leaders devoted more resources to the sport we would be back to the top where we belong enjoying the same level of success that saw the Cranes reach the 1978 Africa Cup finals that they lost against Ghana in Accra. But we are still happy that Dennis Onyango, Uganda’s goalkeeper, at least scooped the African footballer of the year award for players based on the continent.
Now that Uganda is out of the Africa Cup it’s time to refocus on the presidential handshake that has many divided over the ethics of rewarding a few public civil servants who are paid hefty salaries while teachers go unpaid for months and healthcare facilities are collapsing. Some are willing to defend such payment in public institutions, comparing them to private companies where CEOs are rewarded with bonuses for good performance.
This is one of the things that is wrong with Uganda,. When some defend such actions and justify wanton corruption and the failure of government to build institutions and follow proper procurement procedures it points to the politics of Animal Farm. I cannot wait to see the complete list (including the ghosts) of the 46 civil servants that were the beneficiaries of this $1.6 million dollar handshake when its finally made public. If I were among the civil servants named I would return this money to avoid the semblance of any wrongdoing and to avoid being judged by our history.
The talk of reviving our national carrier is also back for debate in Parliament. The problem however is during a recent committee probe the Works State Minister alluded to the fact that after liquidating the Airline, the name Uganda Airlines had been sold off and Air Uganda is not available. So what will the new airline be called? Hopefully the airline routes were not divested the same way the ground handling services – the airline cash-cow was sold off to ENHAS! Strangely with more revenue streams and traffic out of the Entebbe International Airport we have witnessed a further drop in service delivery including delays and bad customer experiences at the departure lounge. If we are to jump-start our Tourism Industry we need better presentation and serious reform in these key visible service sectors!
Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man — Benjamin Franklin
Happy New Year!
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